News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 18th April 2007

Commencing

London's Burning: The Great Fire Of London 1666 takes the most famous disaster in London's history and tells its story through the voices of those who lived through it. Focusing on eye witness accounts, it reveals the personal side of the tragedy: Samuel Pepys rescuing his bags of gold at 4am in his nightshirt; Elizabeth Peacock and her three children being left with 'not so much as a stool to sit upon', and the boys of Westminster School helping to fight the fire. The exhibition also explores why a fire that claimed less than 10 lives, scarred London as surely as the Great Plague the year before, which claimed 100,000. A video installation allows visitors to experience how a bustling city, full of merchants, traders and craft workers, collapsed into ruins, and hear from Londoners left to pick through the debris of their lives. A wide range of contemporary objects bear testimony to the strength of the fire, and the desperate and futile efforts made to quell the blaze, such as an oven matching the likely culprit for the fire's origin in Pudding Lane, the hopelessly ineffectual fire fighting equipment of the day, and archaeological finds from a building which stood two doors from the origin of the fire. The exhibition also shows how London responded to the fire and rebuilt itself, including the recriminations, scapegoating and summary justices, the plans for new beginnings, designed by Christopher Wren and others (many cast aside by financial imperatives), the artistic responses to the Great Fire, and the legislative procedures that were its legacy. Museum of London continuing.

Andy Goldsworthy, brings together an unprecedented range of work by the 'ecological sculptor', from hand held and works on paper, to site specific outdoor pieces. Revealing the breadth and direction of Goldsworthy's most recent work, the exhibition features new permanent outdoor commissions, and new indoor stone, tree and clay installations, together with sheep paintings and blood drawings. The works are given context by photographic archive material, sketchbooks and key works from his career. By charting significant and developing themes, the exhibition provides an opportunity to reassess Goldsworthy's range, and the scale and complexity of his work. These themes encompass holes and portals, walking and journeying, documentation, the manipulation of nature and time, agricultural structuring and layering of the landscape, and the performance of the body. Among the new pieces are 'Leaf Stalk Room', comprised of horse chestnut leaf stalks collected from the park; 'Hidden Trees', dry-stone walls in a ha-ha pierced by tree trunks; 'Stone Room' made from Yorkshire sandstone; and 'Stacked Oak', made from interlocking branches of trees felled locally. The unique gallery, with both indoor and outdoor spaces, provides a journey of discovery that suggests ideas fundimental and central to Goldsworthy's artistic quest. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, until 6th January.

The Art Of Italy In The Royal Collection: Renaissance And Baroque is the first exhibition of Italian art from royal palaces and residences across Britain for over 40 years. It brings together 90 paintings and 85 drawings, most of them masterpieces, and many on public view for the first time. The exhibition celebrates the artistic legacy of Charles I and Charles II, whose taste so profoundly influenced the character of the Royal Collection. Described by the painter Peter Paul Rubens as 'the greatest amateur of paintings among the princes of the world', Charles I built up a collection of Italian masters to rival that of any European court of the period. Although the collection was sold during the Commonwealth, a significant number of paintings were reclaimed or bought back by Charles II after the Restoration. Research for this exhibition has resulted in a number of important re-attributions. Among these, two paintings previously thought to be versions of lost works by Caravaggio, 'The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew' and 'A Boy Peeling Fruit', are now generally recognised by experts as the original works. Among the other highlights are Bronzino's 'Portrait of a Lady in Green', Tintoretto's 'Esther Before Ahasuerus' and 'The Muses', Bellini's 'Portrait of a Young Man', Fetti's 'David with the Head of Goliath', Romano's 'Portrait of Margherita Palaeologa', Garofalo's 'Holy Family', and Lotto's 'Portrait of Andrea Odoni'. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace until 20th January.

Continuing

A New World: England's First View Of America features the only surviving original visual records of 16th century America, over 70 drawings, on display together for the first time in 40 years. John White, a gentleman and artist, sailed with the earliest expeditions to Virginia, and produced a series of watercolours that precisely documented the lives and culture of the North Carolina Algonquian Indians, how they farmed and hunted, and the local flora and fauna. White was sent to produce visual records and maps of what Walter Raleigh found on his voyages of exploration, in order to encourage further investment, and colonist settlers, for a permanent English 'plantation' in the New World. His drawings were vitally important in forming the way that Europe viewed America and its inhabitants. They now provide a glimpse of the land and indigenous people as they encountered Europeans for the first time. The exhibition considers the lasting impact John White's watercolours had on the Old World's impression of America. His legacy continued for over 250 years after his death, thanks to the reproduction and adaptation of his work by later artists, a selection of which are included. The exhibition also features Elizabethan portraits, and maritime and scientific instruments, alongside historic maps, books, prints and other objects that relate to Elizabethan navigation, and help to capture the sense of the golden age of exploration. British Museum until 17th June.

Poets In The Landscape: The Romantic Spirit In British Art, celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Blake by exploring the creative links between poetry, the pastoral vision and British art, from the 1770s to the 1950s. The exhibition opens with George Romney's portrait of William Hayley, patron and friend to Romantic artists and poets, including Blake (who began his illustrated book 'Milton: A Poem' while working for Hayley), William Cowper, John Flaxman, George Romney, Charlotte Smith and Joseph Wright of Derby. Blake's influence on the pastoral imagery of Samuel Palmer during the 1820s is uncovered in the second part of the exhibition. Blake and Palmer's legacy is then reflected in the 1920s 'Etching Revival' period, when artists Paul Drury, F L Griggs, Robin Tanner and Graham Sutherland created poetic and nostalgic images of the English countryside in response to the horrors of the First World War. The final part of the exhibition moves to the 1940s, when artists John Piper, John Craxton, John Minton, Ceri Richards, Julian Trevelyan and Keith Vaughan found refuge from a war torn England in poetry and in a rural and idealised British landscape. Their search for a 'paradise lost' was epitomised by Palmeresque depictions of sleeping poets in bucolic landscapes, and the melancholy images included in the literary publications Penguin New Writing, Horizon and Poetry London, became a platform for the art and poetry of the period. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 10th June.

James 'Athenian' Stuart is the first comprehensive retrospective of the the work of the pioneer of Neo-Classicism, best known for designing Spencer House in St James's Park, and the Royal Hospital Greenwich. It reveals Stuart as an architect, artist and taste maker, and sets his work in the context of 18th century design culture. The creation of the 'Greek Style' and its impact on British design in the late 18th century is largely due to Stuart's landmark publication Antiquities of Athens. This influential book was the first accurate record of Classical Greek architecture, and served as a principal source book for architects and designers well into the 19th century. The exhibition displays Stuart's talents across the visual arts, from paintings to garden monuments, and from interior decorative schemes to medals. Over 200 items on view include rarely seen sketchbooks, paintings, ornamental objects, furniture, architectural designs and specially commissioned photographs of his interiors. Among the highlights are a copy of the book Antiquities of Athens; the Wentworth Woodhouse tripod perfume burner, the first made in metal since ancient times, which became a standard part of the Neo-Classical repertoire; a plate warmer for Kedleston Hall, one of the most ambitious gilt-metal objects of its time; the setee with a curved back, designed specifically to fit into the curved apse of the Painted Room at Spencer House; designs for the decoration of the end walls in a state room at Kedleston Hall; and a portrait medallion of James Stuart made by Josiah Wedgewood. Victoria & Albert Musreum until 24th June.

Luigi Colani: Translating Nature reviews the work of the maverick of 20th century design, who placed organic design on the contemporary agenda. In a career spanning six decades, Colani produced biodynamic designs for cars, boats, planes and consumer goods, as well as creating altenative futuristic concepts for the design of transport and architecture. Indeed, Colani describes himself not as a designer, but as an 'evolutionary biologist'. He emphasised the importance and evolutionary potential of design at an early date, often pre-empting major trends by decades. Colani began his career in the car industry, producing the first all plastic body for Simca. He treated car (and truck, boat and plane) designs as sculptures, not only creating spectacular biomorphic shapes, but enhancing performance through a knowledge of aerodynamics. Setting up his own studio, he applied the concept of sculptural foms, often inspired by nature, and executed in the new medium of molded plastic, to a wide range of objects, from the domestic, including furniture, to the industrial. Large scale projects, some of which have been realised, and some of which remain concepts, have included racing cars, a transatlantic glider, and a 'Judge Dredd' style streamlined truck. Perhaps Colani's best known design is the Canon T90 camera, which spread his biomorphic ideas across the world. The exhibition brings together a collection large scale prototypes, including trucks, aircraft and cars. Design Museum, London until 17th June.

Lynette Wallworth is the first solo show in Britain of works by the Australian artist who creates immersive installations. These rely on activation or participation from the visitor, creating an interplay between image, sound and space, by combining light and transparency with interactive technology. The exhibition brings together three works that employ glass as both an interface for interaction, and a surface for projected video, still photographic and film imagery. Wallworth describes her intention as 'bringing together technological advances and ancient understandings, new media and old practices, electronics and the electricity of human touch'. 'Damavand Mountain' is a video installation based on imagery filmed by Wallworth in Iran, an exploration of the global and governmental forces that shape the lives of the people there. 'Hold: Vessel 1' is comprised of synchronised light and sound, in which the visitor carries a glass bowl across a dark space, and has to 'catch' projected images of underwater life, intended to celebrate the microscopic forms of life. 'Invisible by Night' is a video installation that responds to touch, presenting a projection of a life sized grief stricken woman, whose eternal pacing can be quietly interrupted by the visitor, which Wallworth created in response to the layered history of the site of Melbourne's first morgue. The National Glass Centre, Sunderland, until 17th June.

A Slap In The Face!: Futurists In Russia is a comprehensive examination of the Futurist movement in Russia, exploring the energetic, creative and occasionally violent encounter of East and West in the arena of avant-garde art, comparing and contrasting the Russian protagonists with their Italian contemporaries. The exhibition's title refers to the Russian Futurist's sackcloth-bound manifesto 'A Slap in the Face of Public Taste' published in 1912, which established their movement as something very different from their elitist Italian contemporaries. When Marinetti, the founder of Futurism, visited Russia in 1914, his revolutionary zeal was admired by some, but artist Mikhail Larionov suggested he be pelted with rotten eggs. There were many qualities the two movements shared - the enthusiasm for war, the love of technology, the obsession with finding ways to depict rapid motion - but Russian artists like Chagall and Popova also found revolutionary qualities in the simple, the childish and the innocent. The exhibition includes Goncharova's 'Cyclist', 'The Forest' and 'Mystical Images', Kruchenykh's 'Universal War', and Larinov's 'Blue Rayism', together with works full of colour, wit and life by Chagall, El Lissitsky, Malevich, Popova and Rosanova, alongside some of the frenzied creations of Italian Futurists Balla, Boccioni and Severini. Estorick Collection, London, until 10th June.

Concluding

Good Impressions: Image And Authority In Medieval Seals looks at medieval life and identity through the images used on seals. Sealing documents was an ancient practice that came to the medieval world through the mediation of Byzantium. The golden period of sealing dates from the 12th to the 14th century, when even the peasant classes used lead seals decorated with simple flowers, stars and crosses. By the 16th century the signature was replacing the seal and the practice fell out of favour apart from at the highest civic levels. Seals were used customarily in financial transactions and abuses were common. An example is the 12th century forgery of Henry II's Great Seal, which is made of lead, whereas the genuine - now lost - seal would have been silver. The lead seal is on display since it remains an accurate representation of how English rulers wanted to be seen from the time of the Norman Conquest until today. Silver examples are shown alongside it, such as that buried with Isabella of Hainault in 1190 and that of Robert Fitzwalter, opponent to King John and proponent of Magna Carta. Fear over the validity of documents meant that many were countersealed. Kings, bishops, nobles and their ladies in the 13th and early 14th century were avid collectors of Classical gems and often used Roman intaglios to counterseal their documents. The recent find of a 13th century seal-die from Swanley in Kent incorporates a high quality representation of the Emperor Antoninus Pius. British Museum until 1st May.

Hogarth celebrates the great British 18th century artist whose work defined a period of British history more powerfully and enduringly than any other, with the most comprehensive exhibition in a generation. The display includes over 200 works, and showcases every aspect of Hogarth's career: paintings, ranging from elegant conversation pieces to salacious brothel scenes; drawings and sketches; and the numerous engraved works for which he is best known today. Highlights include the portraits 'David Garrick as Richard III', 'The Shrimp Girl', 'The Graham Children', 'Captain Thomas Coram', 'The Painter and his Pug' and 'Heads of Six of Hogarth's Servants'; the series 'A Rake's Progress', 'A Harlot's Progress', 'The Four Times of Day', 'Election', 'Marriage A-la-Mode', and 'Before' and 'After'; and the scenes 'Industry and Idleness', 'Gin Lane', 'Beer Street', 'The Stages of Cruelty', 'The March to Finchley' and 'O, the Roast Beef of Old England (The Gate of Calais)'. The exhibition examines Hogarth's life and work from his beginnings as a young engraver in the 1720s, through his rise to fame and fortune in the 1730s and 1740s, and on to the controversial years of the 1750s and early 1760s. It reveals that Hogarth's subjects and themes - the city, sexuality and behaviour, social integration, crime, political corruption, charity and patriotism, while being wholly Georgian, are entirely contemporary. Tate Britain until 29th April.

Visions Of World Architecture: John Soane's Royal Academy Lecture Illustrations showcases 64 of the drawings produced by Soane to illustrate his lectures between 1809 and 1820. These were intended to form the taste of the students, and to elucidate his theoretical points, Soane commissioned over 1,000 spectacular watercolours. These drawings, rendered by pupils from his architectural practice, presented a unique record of world architecture, ranging from pre-history to the latest buildings of Regency London, and were admired as fine works of art in their own right. The drawings are in three groups: those based on engravings from architectural folios on Soane's shelves, notably Piranesi; those drawn by pupils on site visits in London; and those based on Soane's designs and on drawings by earlier architects in his collection.

Soane And Turner: Illuminating A Friendship is a display marking the relationship between John Soane and J M W Turner. It provides a unique opportunity to see Turner's large 'Forum Romanum for Mr Soane's Museum', in the building for which it was intended. Other works by Turner include 'Ancient Rome: Agrippina landing with the Ashes of Germanicus', incorporating a bridge like Soane's fantasy 'Triumphal Bridge', and 'Temple of Neptune at Paestum' possibly inspired by Soane's Piranesi drawings of the temples, together with a watercolour study of two tench, a trout and a perch, recalling how Soane and Turner often fished together on Soane's estate at Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing.

Sir John Soane Museum, London until 28th April.