Private View held by Richard Andrews
Le Corbusier: The Art Of Architecture is the first major survey in London of the work of the man who is widely acclaimed as the most influential architect of the 20th century. Le Corbusier was also a celebrated thinker, writer and artist, and his architecture and radical ideas for reinventing modern living, from private villas to large scale social housing to utopian urban plans, still resonate today. The exhibition contains a wealth of original architectural models, interior reconstructions, drawings, furniture, vintage photographs, films, tapestries, paintings, sculpture and books. It charts how Le Corbusier's work changed dramatically over the years, from his early houses inspired by the regional vernacular of his native Switzerland, through the iconic Purist architecture and interiors for which he is best known, his master plan for Paris in the 1920s, and the shift to organic forms in the 1930s, to the dynamic synthesis achieved between his art and architecture as exemplified by his buildings in the 1950s. Highlights include a monumental mural painting 'Femme et coquillage IV'; a reconstruction of his Plan Voisin for Paris; a complete original kitchen designed with Charlotte Perriand from his Unite d'habitation, Marseille; original models of the chapel at Ronchamp, Unite d'habitation, and Parliament Building Chandigarh; and the film version of Le Corbusier and Edgard Varese's 'Poeme Electronique'. The exhibition also offers an opportunity to see the influence of Le Corbusier's architecture and ideas on the Barbican complex itself, designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bonn in the late 1950s. Barbican Art Gallery, London until 24th May.
The Taxidermy Gallery has reopened following major renovation work, so that the largest museum collection of domestic dogs in Britain is back on view. The historical look and feel of displays has been retained, but the lighting, colour scheme and signage have all been updated, to bring new life to the presentation and information about these outstanding examples of 19th century taxidermy. In addition, the 837 specimens have been painstakingly cleaned and restored. As well as the 88 domestic British dogs, there are more exotic specimens from all over the world, such as giant tortoises, a komodo dragon, an ostrich, a Tasmanian devil, koala, anteaters, sloths, pangolins and otters, together with an extinct Tasmanian wolf, and a model of the 3 metre high flightless New Zealand bird called the moa, also extinct. The century old dogs on view reveal the differences between today's breeds and their not so distant ancestors, such as changes in the relative leg length and lower jaw of bulldogs. There is also an interactive touch screen display, with a video showing how taxidermists prepare an animal for display. A new section in the gallery focuses on the work of Walter Rothschild, with images of the man and the mansion where he lived surrounded by exotic animals, telling how he became a collector and zoologist, and founded the museum. Walter Rothschild Collection at the Natural History Museum, Tring, continuing.
A Peep Into Clubland: Cartoons From Private London Clubs, provides a rare chance to enjoy the wit and humour of the rich and varied holdings of cartoons, caricatures and prints from the collections of London's Private Clubs. These collections cover a wide range of subjects, from portraits to political and social satires, which delight and amuse their members, but which are normally inaccessible to ordinary members of the public. Pictures on show include works from the Chelsea Arts Club, the Garrick, the Sketch Club, the Athenaeum, the MCC, the Savage Club, Annabel's, Harry's Bar, Mark's Club and many others. The display of over 100 items embraces works by H M Bateman, James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, Pont, Heath Robinson, Peter Arno and Phil May amongst others. The Cartoon Museum, London, until 3rd May.
Rodchenko And Popova: Defining Constructivism examines the works of Aleksandr Rodchenko and Liubov Popova, arguably two of the Russian avant-garde's most influential and important artists. Constructivism embraced the vision of the Russian Revolution, and sought to create new forms of art that would help to bring a new society into being. Rodchenko And Popova were integral to the stylistic and theoretical underpinning of Russian Constructivism, rejecting the idea of 'art for art's sake' in favour of art as a practice directed towards social objectives. With the growth of industry, its practitioners were also influenced by, and used materials from, modern machinery and technology. Constructivists looked upon themselves as engineers and not necessarily artists: they believed they were the engineers of vision. The display of Rodchenko's and Popova's utilitarian works demonstrate the degree to which both artists influenced 20th century fashion, media, theatre, cinema and graphic design. It includes Rodchenko's iconic posters for the cinema, ranging from Eisenstein's renowned Battleship Potemkin to Vertov's iconic One-Sixth Part Of The World. Works from Popova's series of Painterly Architectonics and Spatial-Force Constructions lead up to a room dedicated to the 1921 exhibition entitled 5x5=25, organised by Popova and Rodchenko with their colleagues Aleksandra Ekster, Aleksandr Vesnin and Varvara Stepanova. This features Rodchenko's group of monochromatic canvases, 'Pure Red Colour 1921', 'Pure Yellow Colour 1921', and 'Pure Blue Colour 1921'. Tate Modern until 17th May.
Out Of The Ordinary: Japanese Contemporary Photography features works by 11 young photographers, most of whom are unknown outside of Japan, which challenge conventional Western assumptions about Japanese aesthetics and culture. Michiko Kasahara, one of Japan's leading curators of contemporary art, has chosen artists whose photographic vision probes the many layers of social and moral anxiety that underlie a surface of prosperity and wellbeing. Images include 'pregnant' men posing in a fertility clinic; strangers photographed from outside the windows of their homes; a young woman dressed up in various costumes of Tokyo teenagers, exploring consumer oriented youth; starkly monochrome silhouettes of artists with the tools of their trade; collages of faceless Japanese stiffly posing in traditional groups: nuclear family, school unit and graduation class; and black and white photos of urban neighbourhoods with minor happenings, gatherings of young people, or eccentric individuals expressing themselves. Gallery Oldham until 28th March.
Love And Marriage In Renaissance Florence: The Courtauld Wedding Chests explores one of the most important and historically neglected art forms of Renaissance Florence: pairs of great chests, lavishly decorated with precious metals and elaborate paintings. Marriage in 15th century Florence was primarily a dynastic alliance between powerful families, and to celebrate these unions, pairs of ornately decorated chests were commissioned. These items, now called cassoni, were often just part of a whole suite of decorative objects commissioned to celebrate marriage alliances. They were displayed in Florentine palaces and used to store precious items such as clothes and textiles. The painted panels set into the wedding chests tell tales from ancient Greece, Rome and Palestine, as well as from Florentine literature and more recent history. This exhibition is focused around a pair of chests ordered in 1472 by the Florentine Lorenzo Morelli to celebrate his marriage with Vaggia Nerli. These are the only pair of cassoni that can be seen with their painted backboards, and that retain their commissioning documents. They are displayed alongside other examples of chests and panels of the period.
Design Drawings From High Renaissance Italy presents rarely seen Italian 16th century design drawings for furniture, household objects and architectural ornaments. These drawings illustrate the increasing use of classical motifs in High Renaissance designs. They also testify to the increasing professionalism of design in the High Renaissance, when the artist who was commissioned to design an object was often a different person from the craftsman who executed the design.
The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London, until 17th May.
Treasures From Shanghai: Ancient Chinese Bronzes And Jades features objects awarded to nobles for exceptional service, together with others used for ritual and burial, from the collection of Shanghai Museum. The exhibition comprises some 60 ancient Chinese jades and bronzes, plus a few Neolithic ceramics, from the area around Shanghai. It explores their role in ancient China as ritual objects, and demonstrates their legacy for later generations. This is illustrated on two silk scrolls that show the collection of the major official and diplomat Wu Dacheng, seen for the first time outside China. Jade has been central to China's culture from the Neolithic period, worked into mysterious ritual implements, used as emblems of power, and as messengers to the spirit world. The Neolithic jades on display feature fine line designs of strange human-like figures, birds and monsters with large teeth. The highpoint of bronze casting came during the Shang and Zhou dynasties, whose rulers believed that if they properly venerated, their ancestors these would intercede in the spirit world on their behalf, and assist in resolving their worldly difficulties and ensure prosperity. The act of making food and wine offerings in spectacular bronze containers was a major part of respect for the ancestors. The bronzes on view from that period are made in elaborate shapes with intriguing ornament. In later eras, bronze was highly valued for many other purposes, including incense burners, lamps and highly decorated belt ornaments and weapons. British Museum until 27th March.
Stanley Spencer: 50 Years On marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the painter whose unique and eccentric vision made him one of the most notable British artists of the 20th century. This exhibition brings together a wide selection of works from different stages of Stanley Spencer's life, including oils, watercolours and intimate sketches, as well as his last self portrait, painted shortly before he died. Cookham and its surrounding area in Surrey was a source of inspiration throughout Spencer's life, and formed the setting for numerous idiosyncratic biblical and figure paintings, as well as landscapes. Highlight include 'The Deposition and Rolling Away of the Stone', 'St Francis and the Birds', 'Woman Feeding a Calf', 'Rickett's Farm, Cookham Dene', Swan Upping at Cookham', 'The Double Nude Portrait: The Artist and his Second Wife' and self portraits from 1913 and 1959. York Art Gallery until 19th April.
Designer Style: Home Decorating In The 1950s reflects the transformation of domestic interiors in the years after the Second World War, as Britain experienced a new sense of optimism about the future. Following the Festival of Britain, there was an emphasis on good design for all aspects of home furnishing. Manufacturers increasingly employed artists to design textiles and wallpapers, and used their names as a selling point. Consumers welcomed the new brighter colours and fresh approach to pattern. In addition, this period saw the birth of the Do It Yourself movement, with articles in women's magazines about how to decorate in the 'contemporary' style, and the launch of publications such as Practical Householder, which encouraged home owners to tackle improvement projects themselves. The exhibition features a wide range of wallpapers and textiles from the 1950s, including work by well known artists and designers such as Lucienne Day, Graham Sutherland, Cawthra Mulock and Jacqueline Groag. These designers exploited the potential of new screen printing techniques to create wallpapers and textiles that were more fluid, abstract and painterly than had been previously possible. Their bright colours and abstract shapes demonstrate a new optimistic approach to home decorating, after the dreary years of war and rationing. Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, Middlesex University, Cat Hill, Barnet, until 6th September.
Taking Liberties provides a rare opportunity to view actual documents that played key roles in the nation's struggle for freedoms and rights, charting the roots of British democracy over a period of more than 900 years. Among the iconic documents on display that paved the way for liberty and democracy are: on the Rule of Law, Magna Carta, in which King John acknowledged laws, rights and freedoms which eventually became a model for liberty throughout the world; Habeas Corpus, which guaranteed that no one could be imprisoned unlawfully; on the Right to Vote, 1832 Reform Act, which abolished the rotten and pocket boroughs, and redistributed seats to enfranchise large towns and populations previously not covered, and Olive Wharry's prison scrapbook, detailing the Suffragette's time in jail; on Human Rights, Thomas Paine's Rights Of Man, championing both natural and civil rights, and William Blake's notebook, containing a draft of The Tyger and material used in other poems, essays, lyrics and epigrams; on the Monarchy and the People, King Charles I's death warrant, following Cromwell's victory in the Civil War, and the Bill of Rights (the closest Britain has to a constitution) passed at the time of the restoration of the monarchy; on Freedom from Want, Charles Booth's 1891 Poverty Map of London, revealing the bleak living conditions of the capital's poor, and the Beveridge Report, which was the blueprint for the welfare state set up after the Second World War. British Library until 1st March.
From Kabul To Kandahar 1833-1933 reveals the unique and largely undocumented history of Afghanistan, and the British presence there, through rare documentary materials. The exhibition covers the period of the three Anglo-Afghan wars, putting this troubled country's current events in a historical context. Afghanistan is brought to life by the photographs, prints and journals of three men - Ernest Thornton, John Alfred Gray and James Atkinson - who spent time in Afghanistan, as either military personnel or within the expat community, together with photographs and diaries of 19th century British travellers. All together these tell how repeated attempts to invade this fiercely independent and mountainous region have failed, and describe the authors impressions of the Islamic land. Drawings, maps, photographs and lithographs show ancient religious sites, ornamental gardens, everyday market scenes, women, royalty and warriors, portraying an incredibly rich and diverse landscape, culture and people. Early photographs of Kandahar and Kabul from the 1880s show the ravages of war on Afghanistan's architectural monuments. These include the famous 'Bamiyan buddhas', built in the 6th century, and destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, which are now the focus of an international restoration campaign. Royal Geographical Society, London, until 26th February.
Titanic Honour And Glory features many rare and previously unseen artefacts from both passengers and crew who travelled on the fateful maiden voyage of the White Star liner in April 1912. The exhibition brings to life some of their stories and the sights that they encountered, contrasting the ultimate luxury planned for their time on board the new ship, and the horror of what they encountered. It has been put together from the collection of Sean Szmalc and Margot Corson, who have collected artefacts from R.M.S Titanic for the past 20 years. Among the items featured are china dinner plates and a silver sugar dish from the First Class dining room; a Steiff bear that belonged to William Moyes, senior sixth engineer, as a good luck charm; a pocket watch that stopped as it entered the freezing water at 2.28am 96 years ago; and a solid silver cup, presented to the Captain, Edward John Smith, marking 25 years service to the White Star Line, together with plans, brochures, photographs and drawings of its cabins and public rooms. The exhibition also includes rare materials and ephemera from the Titanic's often forgotten sister ships, Olympic and Britannic, including oak paneling, china, glassware, cutlery and silverware. Accompanying the genuine artefacts are props and costumes used in the film Titanic, including the 'Heart of the Ocean' necklace. Milestones Museum, Churchill Way West, Basingstoke, Hampshire, until 25th February.