News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 18th November 2009

Commencing

The Staffordshire Hoard is an unparalleled treasure find, dating from Anglo-Saxon times, discovered in July this year by a metal detector in south Staffordshire, and subsequently excavated by Birmingham University Archaeology Unit. The Hoard comprises in excess 1,500 individual items, and both the quality and quantity of this unique treasure are remarkable. The quality of the craftsmanship displayed on many items is supreme, indicating possible royal ownership. Stylistically most items appear to date from the 7th century. The find included sword fittings, part of a helmet and three gold Christian crosses. Most of the complete objects are made of gold, others are of silver. Some are decorated with pieces of garnet, a deep red semi-precious stone, others with fine filigree work or patterns made up of animals with interlaced bodies. The entire find contained 5kg of gold and 1.3kg of silver. It is remarkable for the extraordinary quantity of 87 pommel caps and 71 hilt plates, the highly decorated items that adorned a sword or a seax (a short sword/knife). To find so many together is absolutely unprecedented. This Hoard is perhaps the most important collection of Anglo-Saxon objects ever found in England. It compares and possibly exceeds those objects found at Sutton Hoo in 1939. 18 objects from the Hoard are now on display in this exhibition, while research and interpretation on the other pieces continues. British Museum, continuing.

Nottingham Contemporary is a new £19.4m gallery, designed by the architects Caruso St John, inspired by the surrounding Lace Market, the warehouses that serviced the city's world famous trade in the 19th century. The exterior is fluted concrete in pale green and gold, imprinted with a pattern of lace. It comprises four galleries, lit by 132 skylights, a performance and film space, a learning room, a study, a shop and a cafe/bar.

David Hockney 1960 - 1968: A Marriage Of Styles, the opening exhibition made up of over 60 pieces, offers an opportunity to re-examine David Hockney's work produced in his early years in London and Los Angeles. It is the first that time these paintings, employing a multitude of styles, finishing with the iconic Californian painting 'A Bigger Splash' - possibly his best known work - have been brought together for almost 40 years.

Frances Stark: But what of Frances Stark, standing by itself, a naked name, bare as a ghost to whom one would like to lend a sheet?, the accompanying exhibition, features new and recent work by Frances Stark, one of the artists to have emerged from Los Angeles's art scene in the past 15 years. Stark works in collage, often using text, lifted from a wide range of literary sources, with the American poet Emily Dickinson a particular favourite.

Nottingham Contemporary until 24th January.

Drawing Attention: Tiepolo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Picasso And More is a selection from the collection of some 5,000 master drawing put together over the last couple of decades by the Art Gallery of Ontario. This group of 100 of the best works ranges from Renaissance Italy to 18th century France, from English watercolours to masterpieces by Picasso and Matisse, from German Expressionism to Canada's own Group of Seven and David Milne. The show is a feast of drawings, featuring some of the greatest draftsmen who ever lived, including Carracci, Boucher, Gainsborough, Ingres, Gaugin, Fuseli, Romney, Rowlandson, Samuel Palmer, Burne Jones, Mondrian, Kandinski, Dufy, Turner, Leger, De Kooning, Vanessa Bell, Stanley Spencer, Henry Moore, Jackson Pollock and Canadian Emily Carr. Highlights include Fragonard's 'Charlemagne Leads Angelica Away From Roland', Guercino's 'A Witch, Two Bats, and a Demon in Fligh', Degas's 'Danseuse Vue de Dos, Grande Battement a la Seconde', Delacroix's 'La Fiancee de Lammermoor', Van Gogh's 'The Vicarage at Neunen' and Schiele's 'Portrait of a Girl'. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 27th January.

Continuing

Ed Ruscha: 50 Years Of Painting is the first major British retrospective to focus on the paintings of one of the most influential and pioneering American artists of the past half century. Spanning Ed Ruscha's entire career, the exhibition features 78 paintings, many on public display for the first time, and reveals Ruscha as a painter whose interests in printed matter, graphic design, cinema, photography, driving, roadside signs, the flat and featureless landscapes of the American West, the city filled with constant visual noise and the phenomenon of human communication, make his elegant and provocative work both playful and subversive. From the start of his career Ruscha began to make paintings in which text and imagery from everyday life converged. By the early 1960s, he was perceived to have to have created a new form of visual landscape, combining typography with commonplace objects. Ruscha is the essential Los Angeles artist, reflecting its sprawling sign filled streets and constant hubbub, with his huge paintings matching its larger than life reputation. He did for gas stations what Warhol did for soup cans. The exhibition reveals the depth and breadth of Ruscha's achievement as a painter, and highlights the conceptual underpinnings of his approach to painting. It also focuses on the incisive portrait of American culture that is presented through his imagery. Over the past half century, Ruscha's art has evolved in unpredictable ways, but the things that first fired his imagination remain the basis for his art. Hayward Gallery until 10th January.

Can Art Save Us? takes as its starting point, the ideas and insights of critic, author, artist and scholar John Ruskin, about art as a force for social change, and asks whether these beliefs hold any relevance in the 21st century. The exhibition includes paintings, sculpture, installations and mixed media work from Ruskin and his 19th century artist contemporaries, such as JMW Turner, through to a series of new commissions inspired by his philosophy, especially his interest in sustainability and his social conscience. The exhibition is at its best in juxtapositions of Ruskin's words, his collection and the contemporary artworks, such as Dutch artist Roos van Soest's brooches made of sunken sky scrapers, Ruskin's extensive collection of sketches of the sinking city of Venice, and Beat Klein and Hendrijke Kuhne's model village, constructed of Dublin newspaper property supplements, representing a market now also on a downward trajectory. Similarly, hybrids of art and science can be seen in the intricate lace patterns modeled on haemoglobin cells and presented as part of the Festival of Britain of 1951, and the jellyfish that glints next to a white marble Barbara Hepworth sculpture, as if they were of the same species. Millennium Galleries, Sheffield, until 31st January.

David Chipperfield: Form Matters examines the work of one of Britain's leading contemporary architects, spanning his entire career to date, through new and archive models, sketches, drawings, photographs and film. With a style that is restrained, quiet and thoughtful, David Chipperfield has built a huge international reputation, and completed buildings in China, Japan, Italy, Mexico, USA, Spain and Germany. Chipperfield produces subtle and sophisticated buildings, from museums to homes, with an acute sensitivity for materials, and a powerful awareness of their environment. This comprehensive overview looks at key moments in his development, through 15 major projects, including the River and Rowing Museum at Henley on Thames; the award winning Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach, Germany; the America's Cup Building in Valencia, Spain; the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery; and the recently completed 10 year reconstruction of the Neues Museum in Berlin, bombed during the Second World War and subject to decades of neglect. Design Museum, Shad Thames, London, until 10th January.

The Conversation Piece: Scenes Of Fashionable Life explores the tradition of Conversation Piece paintings - group portraits of high society sitters in strikingly informal situations or going about their daily lives. While a portrait primarily records the sitter's appearance, the Conversation Piece depicts their way of life, often conveying the impression that the subject has been caught off-guard. Typically a work shows a family group or a gathering of friends participating in informal activities. Thus the exhibition offers an insight into high society fashions, interiors and manners from the time of Charles I to the reign of Queen Victoria. With its roots in 17th century Dutch painting, through the work of artists such as Pieter de Hooch and Godfried Schalcken, the genre is best known through the work of the English artists, Thomas Gainsborough, William Hogarth and George Stubbs in the 18th century, and Edwin Landseer in the 19th century. This exhibition brings together outstanding paintings by the greatest exponents of the Conversation Piece, commissioned or acquired by members of the royal family over the past four centuries. The greatest exponent of the genre was Johan Zoffany, and the centrepiece of the display is his masterpiece 'The Tribuna of the Uffizi', which depicts the artist himself and 21 other visitors, examining some two dozen old masters in a gallery at the palace in Florence, painted for his royal patron George III. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 14th February.

The Ashmolean, which, dating from 1683, has a claim to be oldest 'collection of curiosities', in the world, is reopening following a major £61m redevelopment designed by Rick Mather Architects, which doubles the amount of display space. Located to the north of Charles Cockerell's original Museum built in 1845, it comprises 39 new galleries, including 4 temporary exhibition spaces, an education centre, state of the art conservation studios, and the city's first rooftop restaurant. The old and new buildings are linked by a spectacular glass sided staircase in a 7 storey atrium and glass sided bridges. A new approach to displaying the collections, Crossing Cultures Crossing Time, spans the civilisations of east and west, charting the aspirations of mankind from the Neolithic era to the present day. Each object's story is traced as a journey of ideas and influences across time and continents, revealing how civilisations developed as part of an interrelated world culture. Themed galleries explore the connections between objects and activities common to different cultures, such as money, reading and writing, and the representation of the human image. Entire floors of galleries are arranged chronologically, charting the development of the ancient and modern worlds. Among the treasures are the world's largest group of Raphael drawings, the most substantial collection of pre-Dynastic Egyptian material in Europe, the only significant Minoan collection in Britain, and the foremost collection of modern Chinese art in the Western world. The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, continuing.

Suburbia looks at how public transport helped to create the myths and identity of suburbia, and how it has featured in the cultural fabric of London over the last 100 years. The exhibition examines how transport shaped the suburbs, and celebrates suburban lifestyle, architecture, design and popular culture. Previously unseen posters, photographs, early publicity material, signs and maps give a historic context, supported by film and interviews with suburbanites past and present. This display complements the permanent gallery that tells the story of the early 20th century Suburban Dream. The look of the suburbs is explored through images of domestic and commercial architecture and gardens, shown alongside pictures of the railway and Underground stations built to serve them. The show charts the changing building styles that define the suburban experience - along with film, drawings, plans, 'before and after' photographs, and recently acquired toys and games. It also reveals how many Tube stations got their names. The tricks of the trade of estates are highlighted in a section focused on property advertising, together with responses by cartoonists of the day to these early marketing techniques. A suburban lifestyle section looks at defining influences such as fashion, West End shopping, interior design, pastimes, hobbies, music, television and film. London Transport Museum until 31st March.

Concluding

High Art: Reynolds And History Painting 1780 - 1815 examines the period when History painting was regarded as the pinnacle of High Art, and was strongly promoted by Sir Joshua Reynolds above other genres, such as portraiture, landscape and still life. This exhibition includes historical and biblical subjects by Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley, John Francis Rigaud, and Henry Fuseli. Seminal self portraits by Reynolds and West allude to the knowledge and learning required to pursue history painting, with casts of antique statues, a bust of Michelangelo and books on history included as props to enhance the image of the artist. Similarly, Henry Singleton's 'The Royal Academicians in General Assembly' depicts the Academicians in their grand rooms at Somerset House, surrounded by antique casts and some of the paintings included in this display.

High Life: Celebrating The Loan Of W P Frith's 'Private View at the Royal Academy 1881', which was Frith's last major panoramic painting, shows the Victorian elite seeing and being seen at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 1881. Frith includes a host of notable figures from Oscar Wilde and Lily Langtry to the Prime Minister, William Gladstone, and from the actress Ellen Terry to the illustrator John Tenniel. Hung alongside this picture are subject paintings by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Briton Riviere, a portrait of Lord Leighton by G F Watts, and H H Armstead's marble relief of 'The Ever Reigning Queen', which was first seen by the public in the exhibition that Frith depicts.

Royal Academy of Arts until 29th November.

Waste Not Want Not revisits earlier hard times, during the Second World War, when Britain had to economise on raw materials, save on energy and salvage scarce commodities, encouraged by a powerful propaganda machine. Sound familiar? Whether the message was to grow your own vegetables, make do and mend, or recycle paper, uppermost in everyone's mind was the need to be sparing in the use of meager resources. This exhibition of over 300 items reveals what sparsely furnished grocer's shelves looked like during the time of rationing, with recycled cardboard packaging printed solely in black replacing tins with multicoloured labels; the advertisements that promoted them; and the government's exhortations to do it yourself, use again or do without, such as 'Dig For Victory', and 'Switch Off That Light - Less Light More Planes'.

Packaging: A Sustainable Future looks at the current demonisation of packaging, and how, from being an apparently innocuous and functional part of a product, it has been transformed into a controversial component of the marketing process - one which is increasingly required to justify its existence. The exhibition explains the importance of packaging, how it has developed over the years, and how manufacturers, retailers and designers are now rethinking and revolutionising the way products are presented, adopting a more environmentally friendly approach.

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, 2 Colville Mews, Lonsdale Road, Notting Hill, London W11, until 29th November.

The Power Of Dogu provides an opportunity to view Japanese Dogu - abstract clay figures with recognisably human or animal features - the first time that such a wide range of the finest Dogu have been brought together in a single exhibition. These enigmatic figures, which have long captured the imagination of antiquarians and archaeologists, provide a tantalising link to the mysterious Jomon period, from about 12,500BC to 300BC. The exhibition features 67 of these extraordinary objects, including the so-called 'Venus' and 'Dogu with palms pressed together', both designated National Treasures of Japan. Dogu evolved within the earliest dated continuous tradition of pottery manufacture in the world. They are made from high quality pottery, and come in a variety of shapes featuring elaborate decoration and geometric designs. The techniques include modelling, clay applique, marking with twisted plant fibres and burnishing, with some painted or covered in lacquer. Dogu take intriguing forms, with heart shaped faces or triangular pointed heads. Some squat, perhaps in childbirth, others appear to be praying, still others apparently wear masks, such as the magnificent 'Hollow masked Dogu'. British Museum until 22nd November.