Private View held by Richard Andrews
Dan Flavin: A Retrospective is the first comprehensive exhibition of the work of one of the most innovative figures in 20th century art, who made pieces using fluorescent light, becoming a key exponent of minimalism. The exhibition brings together over 60 light works from the 1960s to the 1990s, more than half of which are being shown in Britain for the first time. At the heart of Flavin's artistic project was the transformation of mass produced, commercially available fluorescent light tubes into works of surprising intensity and beauty. Using what appear to be very limited materials - standard two/four/six/eight foot strip lights, in less than a dozen basic colours - Flavin created an extraordinarily diverse body of work, each piece possessing its own subtle, expressive power. A pioneer of installation or 'situational' art, as he called it, Flavin described these light sculptures as 'structural proposals', relating their forms, colours and textures to the particular surroundings in which he placed them. This exhibition charts the development of Flavin's practice over his thirty year career, beginning with his 1961 experiments with electric light and painted constructions, known as the 'icons', and his first work in fluorescent light alone, the diagonal of May 25, 1963, with diverse works including corner pieces, corridors, barriers and room size installations. There are also are a selection of rare sketches, drawings, and early collage constructions in which Flavin explored his ideas. Hayward Gallery until 2nd April.
Visions Of The Low Countries: A Golden Age Of Dutch And Flemish Art brings together rarely seen works by some of the most highly skilled (but less well known) artists of the 16th and 17th centuries, including Jan Van Goyen, Joos de Momper II, Aert van der Neer and David Teniers the Younger. The exhibition focuses on naturalistic landscapes and seascapes, with moody highly dramatic weather effects, and scenes depicting the everyday lives of Dutch and Flemish people. These beautiful and intricately detailed paintings reflect the flourishing cultural scene in the Low Countries, fuelled by an expansion of trade and the resulting boom in the art market, as the new middle class became patrons. The period marked a major cultural shift away from mythological and religious subjects and towards a concentration on mankind's place within the natural, material and social environment.
Another Land is a contrasting and complementary display of photo-works by Nicky Coutts, inspired by the medieval Flemish painter Hieronymus Bosch. Coutts has digitally removed all the blessed and damned protagonists from three of Bosch's best known paintings, 'The Garden of Earthly Delights', 'The Temptation of St Anthony' and 'The Last Judgement', leaving only the background, thus turning them into landscapes, littered with abandoned belongings.
Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield until 1st April.
Wild Life Photographer Of The Year reveals the splendour, drama and variety of life on earth, as captured by entrants in the largest and most prestigious wildlife photography competition in the world. It showcases winning and highly commended submissions to the 22nd annual event, which aims to find the best wildlife and nature pictures taken by photographers worldwide of all ages, both proferssional and amateur. The 84 images on display were chosen as the most expressive and creative from almost 17,000 entries from over 55 countries. Highlights include the almost abstract shot of a swirling flock of starlings evading a predatory peregrine falcon, by Overall Winner Manuel Presti from Italy; the Young Winner's picture, capturing an inquisitive jay perched on a snowy pine branch, by Jesse Ritonen from Finland; the Innovation Award Winner, a reflection of trees and the rays of summer sun in a tranquil river, by Michel Loup from France; the view from a snow capped mountain ridge to the fire scarred valley below hit by the last rays of the setting sun, by Adam Gibbs from Canada; and a volcano spewing out a river of orange lava against the night sky in Tanzania's Rift valley, by Oliver Grunewaldt from France. Photographic enthusiasts will find all the technical details of the camera, lens, shutter speed and film used alongside the images. Natural History Museum until 23rd April.
Watercolours By David Hockney - Midsummer: East Yorkshire 2004 comprises a series of 36 watercolours presented as a single work, painted in one creative burst during July and August 2004, around the time of his 67th birthday. For Hockney, they are a return to his roots, capturing the countryside that he first got to know intimately in his childhood and in his teenage years, and are tinged with nostalgia and memories of family and friends no longer living. Painted both plein-air and from the front seat of his car, they celebrate summer through roadside scenes, harvested fields, moorland views, townscapes such as seaside Bridlington, and the jungle garden at Burton Agnes. Their styles vary dramatically - some are executed in minute detail, while others are little more than sketches. From March 2002 through to early 2005 Hockney concentrated almost exclusively on watercolour, a currently unfashionable medium, and one with which he had previously only briefly experimented. However, Hockney determined to explore its possibilities with the same enthusiasm with which he had previously launched into other media. The resulting paintings are hung together on one wall, in six rows of six sheets each, so that the whole series can be apprehended in a 'sweep of vision' as a single work, offering spectators multiple views of a whole, rather than a series of individual subjects. The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House until 19th February.
A Gardener's Labyrinth: Portraits Of People, Plants And Places displays recent photographs by Tessa Traeger and Patrick Kinmonth of over 50 British horticulturalists and their work. The Garden Proposed examines the attitudes and inspirations that inform contemporary garden design, from the gardens of Dan Pearson and Penelope Hobhouse to the new developments in British land art and the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay and Andy Goldsworthy. The Garden Described features leading garden historians and writers, including Anna Pavord, Robin Lane Fox and Roy Strong. The Garden Planted explores the different worlds of plant husbandry, from nurserymen to specialist rose growers, the Chelsea Flower Show expert and the organic gardener including Beth Chatto, Valerie Finnis, Bob Flowerdew and Christopher Lloyd. The Garden Preserved reveals the living heritage of great gardens such as Cawdor Castle (Angelika Cawdor) and Stourhead (John Sales) charting grand restorations and dramatic transformations. The Garden Explored deals with plant scholarship, expedition and exploration, with Christopher Brickell of the Royal Horticultural Society and Tim Smit of the Eden Project. Alongside each portrait is a photograph of the garden most closely associated with the sitter, including Ghillean Prance (Kew Gardens), Charles Jencks (The Garden of Cosmic Speculation), Arabella Lennox-Boyd (Gresgarth Hall), Ann Scott-James (Sissinghurst), Beth Rothschild (Waddesdon Manor) and Graham Stuart Thomas (Mottisfont Rose Garden). The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle until 19th February.
Turner: The Sea brings together JMW Turner's major maritime paintings with a range of rarely seen studies. Although regarded primarily as a painter of landscapes, nearly a third of Turner's works represent the sea, and he recorded the variety and beauty of the coastline, and celebrated the Britain's maritime industries and naval heritage throughout his life, in oils, watercolours and prints. Some of his most evocative images of the sea were rapidly-executed studies in watercolour, representing a direct and personal creative response to nature, which were not considered sufficiently finished for exhibition or sale. When making oils, it was not unknown for him to use his thumb in applying the paint, to create the energy of waves. In these works Turner uses the junction between sea and sky as a motif through which to experiment with the expressive use of colour and the technical possibilities of watercolour. He often omits distinguishing landmarks and focuses on the uninterrupted line of the horizon. The simplicity of the composition enables him to try different ways of depicting weather and water, using unorthodox techniques to achieve a variety of effects. The exhibition also includes a number of preparitory pencil sketches of clouds, boats and waves. Among Turner's best known works on display are 'The Prince of Orange, William III, Embarked from Holland, and Landed at Torbay, November 4th, 1688, after a Stormy Passage', 'Spithead: Two Captured Danish Ships Entering Portsmouth Harbour', and 'Venice Quay, Ducal Palace'. Tate Liverpool until 23rd April.
Medieval London is a new gallery that tells the story of London from the end of Roman rule in AD410 to the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558, a period when London survived near extinction to become England's capital, and one of the most prosperous cities in Europe. Taking the theme of 'people haven't changed much in a thousand years', it offers a display of over 1,200 artefacts from the period, many recently discovered, designed to capture a sense of people's ordinary lives and daily experiences - promoted with the strapline 'glamour, grandeur, sleaze and disease'. Among the finds are an Anglo Saxon brooch; a section of the Thames riverfront and the remains of a priory window destroyed during the Reformation; leather and textiles, including a man's woollen codpiece, a child's mitten, and a pair of pigeon-toed boots; weapons from the Viking invasions; a silver King Alfred penny; keys from the lockers of patients in St Mary Spital hospital; Pilgrim 'souvenir' badges; children's toys; and a set of loaded dice. Accompanying the relics is an audio visual display on the Black Death, using the words of people who experienced the horrors of the disease that wiped out half the city's population in 18 months, between 1348 and 1350. The gallery also bristles with surprising facts and figures, such as that medieval London had 108 parish churches, but 1334 alehouses (one for every 50 people), that among the goods that arrived in London on a ship in 1500 were tennis balls, liquorice and thimbles; and that the dialect of medieval London became the 'Standard English' language. Museum of London continuing.
Cut And Dried: The Silhouettes Of Augustin Edouart And Watercolours Of Harry More Gordon presents two complementary displays, featuring the work of 19th century French artist Augustin Edouart, and 20th century Scottish watercolourist Harry More Gordon. Edouart, one of the most able cut paper silhouettists of all time, visited Scotland in the early 1830s and made portraits in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth that are a record of the time, while More Gordon's watercolour portraits, showing an acute eye for detail, provide an observation of modern life and manners. During his career Edouart travelled throughout the United Kingdom and America, creating over 100,000 cut paper portraits. This exhibition features over 30 likenesses in profile made by cutting black paper with scissors, while he lived in Edinburgh from 1829 to 1832. His sitters included the exiled French Royal family of Charles X, and many of the leading figures of Scottish society, including writer Sir Walter Scott, artist William Dyce, social reformer Rev Thomas Chalmers, and anatomist Robert Knox. Harry More Gordon began as a graphic artist and illustrator before taking up watercolour portraiture. His pictures, usually informal works, painted in domestic rather than official settings, are always filled with closely observed still life details, which turn them into a form of social commentary. The display features 20 large works, including politician Sir Menzies Campbell, artist Gian Carlo Menotti, gallery director Sir Timothy Clifford, and a celebrated group portrait 'The Secretaries of State for Scotland', completed in 1999, showing all 8 men who had occupied the position over a period of 30 years. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh until 26th March.
Lawrence Of Arabia: The Life, The Legend is a biographical exhibition marking the 70th anniversary of the death of T E Lawrence, exploring the life of the writer, adventurer, archaeologist, intelligence officer, diplomat and serviceman, who was one of the British icons of the 20th century. It covers his early years, wartime experiences in the Middle East and the role he played in the Arab Revolt, his growing fame after the war, the writing of 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom', his 'disappearance' into the services and his untimely death following a motorcycle accident in 1935. A further section of the show examines the creation of the Lawrence legend, propagated by the illustrated travelogues of Lowell Thomas, and how this has been sustained in books, films and the media. The exhibition features a wide range of original materials, many never publicly displayed before, illustrating aspects of Lawrence's life, including his letters, diaries, Arab robes, photographs, film, paintings, personal effects and memorabilia. Highlights are a recently discovered map outlining Lawrence's proposals for the reconstruction of the Middle East after the First World War (showing that he opposed the creation of a single state of Iraq); the Arab Revolt flag raised at the capture of Akaba in 1917; a gilt bronze wreath that Lawrence found on Saladin's tomb in Damascus; and the Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle that Lawrence was riding at the time of his fatal accident. Imperial War Museum London until 17th April.
Henri Rousseau: Jungles In Paris is the first exhibition to be held in the UK for 80 years of work by an artist who created some of the most popular and memorable paintings of the modern era. Rousseau is celebrated for his visionary jungle paintings that captivate the viewer with the lushness of their plant and animal life, painted with incredible detail and precision. Extraordinarily he never saw the tropical scenes he brought so much to life, as he never left France. Rousseau's exotic jungle paintings are the fantasies of a city dweller, constructed from visits to the zoo and botanical gardens in Paris, from postcards, books and from his imagination. These jungles offered him a dream of escape from humdrum reality to a savage and yet enchanting realm. Rousseau's unique vision was celebrated by his modernist contemporaries like Pablo Picasso and the surrealists Rene Magritte and Max Ernst, who saw his work as opening up new realms of artistic possibility. They were fascinated by his bold, primitive style and the dream like nature of his paintings. For a customs official who was self taught and only took up painting full time in retirement, this was an extraordinary accomplishment. The exhibition features 50 works, including an extensive group of jungle paintings, and draws comparisons between these and Rousseau's other main areas of artistic interest: Parisian landscapes, portraits and allegorical paintings. Also on display is a comprehensive survey of Rousseau's source materials, offering an insight into his working methods and the Paris of his time. Tate Modern until 5th February.
Dancing To The Music Of Time: The Life And Work Of Anthony Powell explores the world of one of the most important English novelists of the 20th century. Powell was a key member of a group of writers, among them Cyril Connelly, George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh, who came to prominence in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He is best known for his twelve novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time, about London society in the first half of the 20th century, taking its title from the Nicolas Poussin painting, which is featured here. The exhibition focuses on Powell's life, his friends and contemporaries, and his career as a novelist and art collector. Among the objects on display are portraits of Powell and his friends, and many original manuscripts and illustrations relating to his opus. These include typescripts of the novels, his manuscript notebook, drawings for book covers by Misha Black, Osbert Lancaster and Mark Boxer and promotional posters. Powell's acute sense of humour is evident in his scrapbooks and a photo album documenting a spoof detective mystery 'The Tranby-Croft Case' acted out by Powell and his wife, together with Francis Watson and Gerald Reitlinger during a weekend in 1937. Works of art from Powell's own collection include drawings and paintings by J F Lewis, Sickert, Vuillard and Picasso. These are seen together with letters, post cards, documents, photographs, books, furniture and other objects from his idiosyncratic Somerset home The Chantry. The Wallace Collection until 5th February.
Self Portrait: Renaissance To Contemporary is the first large scale exhibition to bring artists' own images together across periods and places within the tradition of western painting, from 1433 to the present day. It explores the diversity of the image with which the artist is represented through painted self portraits by 56 of the world's greatest artists, from Jan van Eyck to Chuck Close. Works by artists renowned for their self portraits, such as Rembrandt, van Gogh, Kahlo and Bacon, are included alongside less well known artists, such as Pieter van Laer, Johannes Gumpp and Hans Thoma. The international range of artists represented includes Carracci, Degas, Velazquez, Hogarth, Kauffmann, Corinth, Reynolds, Zoffany, Courbet, Nolan, Warhol, Hopper, and Freud. Focusing on the self portrait through oils, the exhibition traces continuity and change in the genre, and the particular importance of the medium of oil paint to its development. It is especially concerned with the ways in which portrait likenesses can express the creativity and inventiveness of the artist. By showing the different ways in which artists have chosen to paint their own image, the exhibition opens up questions of consciousness, process and identity. The exhibition includes seven early works from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, where the collection of self-portraits begun by the Medici - now displayed in the 'Vasari corridor'- is the most important and famous group of self portraits in the world. National Portrait Gallery until 29th January.