News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 19th July 2006


The Jameel Gallery Of Islamic Art, is a £5.4m renovation and re-design by architects Softroom, which houses over 400 objects, including ceramics, textiles, carpets, metalwork, glass and woodwork, dating from the great days of the Islamic caliphate of the 8th and 9th centuries to the years preceding the First World War. The area covered stretches from Spain in the west to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan in the east, taking in important centres of artistic production in the Arab lands, Turkey and Iran. The star attraction of the display is the Ardabil carpet, the oldest dated, and one of the largest, most beautiful and historically important carpets in the world. Made in Iran in 1539, and an impressive 10.5m x 5m, it is displayed horizontally at floor level, as it would originally have been, for the first time since 1892. Among the other highlights are: Sultan Qa'itbay's richly decorated wooden minbar (or pulpit) over 6m high, from a mosque in Cairo, made in the late 15th century; the sword of Shah Tahmasp, inscribed with a long elegant inscription from the Qur'an on the subject of 'Victory'; a lamp from the Suleymaniye mosque in Istanbul made around 1557, the earliest example of Iznik pottery, with under-glaze decoration in red; the Isfahan cope, made in Iran in the 17th century, with a design that includes Islamic elements such as scrollwork motifs as well as Christian iconography; a rock crystal ewer from 11th century Egypt, carved from a single large piece of hard transparent rock crystal; and The Seven Sleepers tilework chimney piece, made in Istanbul in 1731. Victoria & Albert Museum, continuing.

The Starry Messenger: Visions Of The Universe explores man's ultimate quest in understanding the solar system. It examines visual representations by artists, scientists and thinkers throughout the ages, and how they have used various means to understand the mysteries of the universe and man's place in it - as well as considering the artist's role as transmitter of these ideas. The starting point is Galileo, whose observations marked a major turning point in the way that we view the world, and his book, Sidereus Nuncius (the eponymous Starry Messenger), and subsequent meeting with the poet John Milton, as described in the epic poem Paradise Lost. The exhibition explores the dreams and imagination of Western culture through the paintings of William Blake, John Martin and Odilon Redon, via the utopian worlds and dilemmas posed by science fiction, to contemporary works that question man's knowledge of life on earth. It includes paintings, drawings, photography, music, sculpture, science fiction magazines and large scale video installations. Artists represented include Glenn Brown, John Cage, John Flamsteed, Graham Gussin, David A. Hardy, William Kentridge, Steve McQueen, Aleksandra Mir, Heather and Ivan Morison, John Murphy, John Russell, Bridget Smith, Wolfgang Tillmans and Fred Tomaselli, together with a specially commissioned work by Paul McDevitt and Mark Titchner. Compton Verney, Warwickshire until 10th September.

The Horniman Aquarium, the first free public aquarium in Britain, which opened in 1903, has been reborn. The unique original folksy 'home made' aquarium that flanked the staircase to the basement has been replaced by a £1.5m, super aquarium, with 15 displays in 7 distinctive zones, providing authentic habitats that support more than 150 different species of animals and plants. 'Drawn to Water' displays a typical Victorian Parlour Aquarium alongside its inspiration, a painting of Sea Anemones by Philip Henry Gosse, the Victorian naturalist who was first responsible for introducing the word aquaria into the English language in 1854. 'British Pond Life' reveals the variety of life that is found in these endangered ecosystems. 'Drifters' is a display of seawater moon jellyfish, contained in one of Europe's largest specialist tanks that simulates the current of the oceans. 3D images of sea plankton illustrate how these life forms are the basis of the marine food chain and help to regulate the Earth's climate. 'Seashores' shows marine life found along the coastlines of the British Isles, including seahorses, and a north Devon rock pool, complete with crabs, shellfish and wave surges. There is also an endangered 'Fijian Coral Reef', one of the most bio-diverse hotspots in the world, a 'Mangrove Swamp' and a 'South American Rainforest', featuring flora and fauna such as the monkey frog and leopard catfish. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill London SE23, continuing.


Modigliani And His Models is the first major exhibition of the work of sculptor and painter Amedeo Modigliani to be held in Britain since the 1960s. It comprises around 55 works, encompassing nudes and portraits, together with sculptures and paintings of caryatids, selected to show particular aspects of his work. Modigliani has always been controversial, leading a satisfyingly dissolute and suitably short life, and establishing an instantly original and recognisable style, yet criticised for pursuing it rigorously. Modigliani almost exclusively painted people, portraits and nudes, most of which were executed in the last six years of his career, between 1913 and 1919. His signature style - swan necked elongated figures and faces with almond eyes - drew on a variety of sources: Renaissance to Rococo painting, the art of Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne and Brancusi, ancient Greek, African and Asian sculpture. As the exhibition title suggests, the works featured here are mostly of a succession of women with whom he had relationships as muse, model and mistress. These include the South African born British poet and critic Beatrice Hastings, as in 'Beatrice Hastings in Front of a Door', and his last mistress, the former art student Jeanne Hebuterne, seen in 'Jeanne Hebuterne Sitting' and 'Jeanne Hebuterne, a Door in the Background', who, though nine months pregnant, threw herself out of a fifth storey window on the day after his death. Other portraits, include friends and dealers such as 'Paul Guillaume Seated', and 'Portrait of Picasso', whom he encountered in the cafes and studios of Montparnasse, a crucible in which French and foreign artists, writers, musicians and critics worked side by side to create what is now called 'Modern art'. The Royal Academy of Arts until 15th October.

Building Stories charts the progress of the £27.9m restoration of Kelvingrove, Glasgow's favourite building, and prior to its closure, the most visited museum in Britain outside London. Using archive photographs and new images alongside video footage, the exhibition shows the changes, both dramatic and subtle, which have been made to the Glasgow landmark during 3 years of building work. Apart from cleaning and restoration, the most significant work was the opening up of the basement, previously used for storage and offices, which has provided a new temporary exhibition space, a conference and lecture theatre, education rooms, a restaurant, and shop. Overall there is now an additional 35% of floor space in use, with 8,000 items on display, in comparison to 5,000 previously. Within the refurbished structure, the display of the collection has been completely rethought, integrating the museum artefacts with the gallery works of art, to provide each with a better context. Among the highlights of the display are: Spitfire LA198 from the 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, hanging from the roof of the west court; the Charles Rennie Mackintosh gallery, including the Mackintosh Tearoom, after 9 years of restoration; Sir Roger, the elephant joined by a new giraffe; the winter/summer diorama, showing animals and birds in their seasonal pelts and feathers; the Ceratosaurus, a 40ft long dinosaur (no museum is complete without one); Glasgow Boys and Scottish Colourists galleries; Dali's 'Christ of St John of The Cross'; Rembrandt's 'A Man in Armour'; and the Egyptian collection, augmented by 80 treasures loaned from the British Museum. A unique combination - part National Gallery, part V&A, part British Museum and part Tate Gallery. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow continuing.

The Battle Of The Somme marks the 90th anniversary of one of history's most controversial battles. On 1st July 1916 the British Army suffered the heaviest losses ever inflicted on it in a single day, at the beginning of a 5 month campaign that would achieve an uncertain victory at a cost many then, and since, believed too high. The battle has fuelled debate throughout the past 90 years, and has been interpreted in many different ways by historians. This exhibition explores the facts and the perceptions of the Somme, and allows visitors to decide where they stand on a battle in which over 1,200,000 soldiers became casualties. It offers multiple perspectives on the Battle of the Somme: those of the British politicians faced with substantial Allied losses, the generals, their critics, and the voices of those who fought, and who died. The political, strategic, and technological imperatives that influenced the campaign are investigated, together with the effect of the battle on the progress of the War, public opinion about it at the time, and how it has been viewed in long term popular culture. It is remarkable that at last there is an open minded reassessment of the events, instead of the usual unquestioning acceptance of the 'lions led by donkeys' line fostered by a combination of outdated class war and unthinking sentimentality. National Army Museum, Chelsea until July 2007.

Dino Jaws presents ten of the most lifelike animatronic dinosaurs ever created, in an examination of what and how the prehistoric creatures ate (including each other), based on the latest interpretation of fossil evidence. Costing £100,000 to build each, they range from the flesh eating T rex to the herbivorous Euoplocephalus, including the 9m long Baryonyx, with 96 serrated teeth and a 30cm front claw with which it scooped fish from water, an Iguanodon, which grasped plants with its flexible fifth finger, a pack of Velociraptor devouring the carcass of a baby Protoceraptops, and a Coelophysis, which ate its own young (well who hasn't wanted to do that?). In addition, there are three life sized animatronic dinosaur heads of Tyrannosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Edmontosaurus, demonstrating the difference between flesh and plant eaters. One side of each head is complete, but the other is just the bare bone in order to demonstrate how the teeth and jaws worked to tear and chew the food. 15 years on since the first moving dinosaurs were created, these are the scariest yet. The latest in animatroinics give the exhibits the most fluid movement and realistic sound since the real ones became extinct - they do everything except walk (which is probably quite comforting). As with all these kinds of exhibitions, as well as examining the food that goes in, undue attention is also given to what comes out. In addition, there is a virtual dig, which uses specialised tools to unearth fossilised teeth, claws and stomach contents, based on the actual dig that discovered the first Baryonyx in a gravel pit near Dorking in 1983. Natural History Museum until 15th April.

Modern British Art: The First 100 Years launches the £8.6m extension to Pallant House, the Grade 1 listed Queen Anne town house, which is home to the bequeathed collections of Walter Hussey, Charles Kearley, John Birch and Colin St John Wilson. The new wing, which has quadrupled the exhibition space, was designed by architects Long & Kentish in association with Colin St John Wilson. The ground floor, in keeping with the domestic scale of the house, includes a bookshop, cafe, prints and drawings room, reference library and reading room, conservation studio, education room and courtyard garden designed by Christopher Bradley-Hole. On the upper floor there are seven simple top lit gallery rooms opening off a long central galleria, one of which can house concerts and public talks. The opening exhibition is a chronological survey of the key themes of British art during the 20th century, including the influence of the European avant garde on the Vorticist movement, the impact of the World Wars and the role of the War Artists Advisory Committee, the significance of The Independent Group in the 1950s and the development of British Pop Art during the 1960s and beyond. Among the highlights are Severini's 'Danseuse No.5', Henry Moore's 'Two Sleepers', Peter Blake's 'Girls and their Hero', Richard Hamilton's 'Swingeing London' Patrick Caulfield's 'Portrait of Juan Gris' and Michael Andrew's 'The Colony Room'. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester until 24th September.

Bejewelled By Tiffany 1837 - 1987 celebrates the design and craftsmanship of the jewels and luxurious objects created by Tiffany & Co during its first 150 years. The most comprehensive exhibition of Tiffany wares ever mounted, the exhibition comprises some 180 pieces from the Tiffany archive, together with jewels loaned from private collections, many of which have never before been on public display. Starting modestly as a 'Fancy Goods' store on Broadway in New York, Tiffany quickly rose to international fame, its jewellery winning medals at the great international exhibitions of the 19th century. The exhibition is displayed chronologically, within which the pieces are arranged thematically, highlighting particular designers, sources of inspiration or the materials favoured at different times. Among the most spectacular are a gold, silver, diamond, pearl and emerald brooch adapted by Bapst from a girdle once owned by the French Empress Eugenie; a necklace with matching brooch of gold and half-pearls, similar to one bought by Abraham Lincoln for his wife to wear at his Inaugural Ball; a leaf spray brooch of gold, platinum, diamonds and amethysts by Rene Lalique; the garland style Wade Necklace of gold, platinum and diamond; an enamelled and diamond orchid by G Paulding Farnham; a 'skyscraper' necklace of platinum and diamond; a 'bird on a rock' brooch by Jean Schlumberger in gold, platinum, yellow and white diamond and ruby; and a dragon brooch by Donald Claflin of platinum, gold, turquoise, diamond, emerald and ruby. Gilbert Collection, Somerset House until 26th November.


Undercover Surrealism: Picasso, Miro, Masson And The Vision Of Georges Bataille presents a fresh view of Surrealism, set against the cultural cross currents of Paris in the late 1920s. Painting, film, sculpture, music, photography, masks, manuscripts and ritual objects are all subject to the forensic eye of writer and critic Georges Bataille. His magazine Documents, which ran from 1929 to 1930, confronted the movement, juxtaposing art, ethnography, archaeology and popular culture in such a way that conventional notions of 'primitive' and 'ideal' were overturned. Bataille described himself as Surrealism's 'enemy from within', and his dark, materialist vision of human desires and radical pessimism challenged the idealism of the surrealists with a radical questioning of Western values, of notions of the primitive, ritual, popular culture and of the whole edifice of high art. The exhibition features works by both well known and lesser known artists, including Miro, Dali, Klee, Giacometti, Brancusi, Boiffard, De Chirico, Arp, Nadar, Belmer, Meguerditchian, Bunuel and Ernst, and an entire room of Picassos. The principle of juxtaposition, and of the unexpected visual links that animated Documents, are played out throughout the exhibition, with counter positions such as that of Hollywood film and Picasso's 'Three Dancers', and Faujour's photographs of Parisian slaughterhouses and Masson's paintings, together with the rhythm of Duke Ellington. Hayward Gallery until 30th July.

The Royal Ballet At 75 marks the anniversary of the formation of Britain's national ballet company. It comprises photographs of some of the key figures who shaped the company and influenced British ballet since 1930. These include the founder Ninette de Valios and Lilian Baylis (who provided the company with its first home) by de Valios's brother Gordon Anthony, choreographer Frederick Ashton by Angus McBean, and musical director Constant Lambert by Yvonne Gregory. Dancers from the early years include Pearl Argyle, Lydia Lopokova, Harold Turner and Anton Dolin - represented in vintage prints by photographers such as Paul Tanqueray, Cecil Beaton and Cyril Arapoff. Other images include rarely seen portraits of Alicia Markova by Dorothy Wilding, Margot Fonteyn by Yousuf Karsh and Rudolf Nureyev by Beaton, together with Michael Somes and David Blair by Tanqueray and Vivienne. Among the more contemporary photographs are Peter Wright by Barry Marsden, Wayne Sleep, Irek Mukhamedov and director Monica Mason by Alan Bergman, and Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope by Jillian Edelstein. National Portrait Gallery until 23rd July.

Modernism: Designing A New World 1914 - 1939 explores the key defining movement of 20th century design, and the dreams that swept Europe, Russia and America, in the wake of the First World War, as its pioneers planned for a new and better world. The exhibition features works by key Modernist figures, including artists Piet Mondrian and Fernand Leger, architects Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, furniture designers Marcel Breuer and Alvar Aalto, fashion designer Sonia Delaunay and photographer Man Ray, with over 300 objects and more than 50 film clips. Highlights include the earliest surviving fitted kitchen, discovered recently in Frankfurt after continual use for 80 years; Miroslav Zikmund and Jiri Hanzelka's legendary silver Czech Tatra 87 car; the design for Corbusier's largest and most luxurious building, the Villa Stein De Monzie; paintings such as Leger's 'Ball Bearings', and Mondrian's 'Tableau I, Red, Black, Yellow and Blue'; examples of 'Healthy Body Culture' including X-ray machines and sun lamps and a photograph by Alexander Rodchenko of 'Sun Lovers' engaging in outdoor exercise; iconic cantilever chairs by Marcel Breuer, Mies van der Rohe and Alvar Aalto; drawings by Wassily Kandinsky, based on photographs by Charlotte Rudolph of the dancer Gret Palucca; Harry Beck's first sketch for the London Underground map; and fashions including Sonia Delaunay's knitted wool swimsuit, a suit with a bright, geometric pattern designed by Giacomo Balla, and Alexander Rodchenko's productivist outfit, designed in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. Victoria & Albert Museum until 23rd July.