News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 19th October 2011


Shaped By War: Photographs By Don McCullin is the largest ever British exhibition about the life and work of one of the world's most acclaimed photographers. For more than 50 years, Don McCullin's images have shaped the awareness of modern conflict and its consequences. His courage and integrity, as well as the exceptional quality of his work, are a continuing inspiration and influence worldwide. This exhibition contains over 250 photographs, contact sheets, objects, magazines and personal memorabilia, and shows the effect war has had on McCullin's life. It examines McCullin's uncompromising drive to be on the frontline and document events as they unfold, the influences on his work, and his impact on others. The display reveals the moral dilemmas of bearing witness to and photographing conflict. Set in the context of world events and major changes in photography and journalism which have occurred in his lifetime, items on display for the first time include his US Issue Army Helmet and boots worn in Vietnam, and a camera fractured by a sniper's bullet in Cambodia, as he was taking a photograph. Most black and white images have been handprinted by McCullin himself, and are stunning examples of his darkroom skills. Key images are also displayed via lightboxes, banners and projections - methods that have never before been used to show his work. The exhibition explores how, indirectly, conflict continues to shape Don McCullin and his work today, including cultural change in Britain, landscapes of England, still life photography, and his most recent work, documenting the former Roman Empire. Imperial War Museum, London, until 15th April.

Vermeer's Women: Secrets And Silence explores intimate scenes of Dutch 17th century women in their homes. The exhibition comprises works evoking the private realms inhabited almost exclusively by women, who are glimpsed engaged in domestic tasks, at their toilette or immersed in pleasurable pastimes. Needlework, playing music, reading, writing letters, cooking, shopping and minding children are all beautifully captured, and lend a feeling that one has stumbled upon a private moment. At the heart of the exhibition are works by Vermeer that represent the pinnacle of his mature career, 'The Lacemaker', 'A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal', 'A Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman - The Music Lesson' and 'Young Woman Seated at a Virginal'. Optical effects normally seen in photography are present in the paintings, as Vermeer created a depth of field by blurring the foreground of the pictures, while leaving the principal subject in sharp focus. This technique, rarely seen among other works of the period, gave his painting an unprecedented complexity. Joining the works by Vermeer are 28 paintings of Dutch art from the Golden Age by some of Vermeer's finest contemporaries, many of whom were more famous than Vermeer during his lifetime. These artists include Cornelis de Bisschop, Gerard ter Borch, Esaias Boursse, Quiringh van Brekelenkam, Gerrit Dou, Pieter de Hooch, Samuel van Hoogstraten, Nicolaes Maes, Cornelis de Man, Eglon van der Neer, Jacob van Ochtervelt, Godfried Schalcken, Jan Steen and Jacobus Vrel. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 15th January.

Oramics To Electronica: Revealing Histories Of Electronic Music charts the history of electronic music making technology, showing how it has moved from purpose built laboratories to a music studio the size of a laptop in 60 years. The story of Electronic Music, from the sound experiments of the 1950s through to the digital revolution of today, is one of invention and innovation. The story begins with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Electronic Music Studios (EMS), two organisations that broke musical boundaries in the postwar years. Objects on display from this era include the EMS VCS3, the first portable synthesiser; and the Oramics Machine, a revolutionary music synthesiser that was created in the Daphne Oram, founder of the Radiophonic Workshop, which could transform drawings into sound, together with archive footage of the machine working. The emerging story of Electronic Music has inspired enormous creativity, from machines like the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument that cost £20,000 in 1979, to a Speak & Spell children's toy that has been modified to create music. Other items on display include a much-used TB303 bass synthesizer, which spawned the whole Acid House genre, a WASP synthesiser, and an original stylophone, together with less high tech objects, such as an egg slicer rigged to produce sounds like a guitar. More recently, the spread of technology and the digital revolution has opened the world of Electronic Music to everyone, and it continues to break boundaries. Science Museum, London, until 1st December 2012.


Gerhard Richter: Panorama is a retrospective that brings together significant moments of the career of one of the most important artists working today. Since the 1960s, Gerhard Richter has immersed himself in a rich and varied exploration of painting. Continually challenging the relevance of the medium, his works have encompassed a diverse range of techniques and ideas. This exhibition, marking Richter's 80th birthday, encompasses his full range, with paintings based on photographs, colourful gestural abstractions such as the squeegee paintings, portraits, landscapes and history paintings, plus works over-painting his own photographs and photographs of details of his own paintings. Punctuating the exhibition are a series of glass constructions from 1960s, 1970s and 2000s, and mirror works that Richter began making in the 1980s. Highlights include a rarely shown painting of the Alps; a triptych of Cloud paintings; the Skull and Candle paintings shown alongside paintings of icebergs and mountainscapes, testifying to Richter's admiration of German Romantic painting; the 15 part work 'October 18 1977', based on newspaper images of the dead members of the Baader Meinhof group; intimate portraits and images of friends and family, such as painted busts of himself and his friend, the artist Blinky Palermo, 'Ema (Nude on a Staircase)' depicting his first wife, 'Betty 1988', a portrait of his daughter, and 'Reader 1994', a painting of his young wife; and 'September 2005', a painting of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001. Tate Modern until 8th January.

Rashid Rana the first major British show by the most prominent and original contemporary artist working in South Asia today. The works in this exhibition blur the divide between two and three-dimensional forms, to challenge the viewer's understanding of the world in which they live. Photo sculptures, large-scale photo mosaics, installations and new video work subvert perception of size and structure, and look deeper into the relationship between the fragment and the bigger picture. The exhibition explores three themes: Dis-location, examines domesticity, displacement and everyday objects, through a series of heavily pixellated photo sculptures that manipulate our ideas of representation and reality, including 'The World Is Not Enough' a portrait of an undulating seascape, whose beauty is at odds with the micro-imagery of waste and urban decay that are woven together to create it; Between Flesh and Blood, dissects the body and physical relationships, including 'What Lies Between Flesh and Blood', which presents deeply textured, serene abstracts, reminiscent of Rothko, but viewed more closely reveal each is composed of an intricate mosaic of thousands of tiny images of wounds and skin, collected from disparate sources including fashion magazines, pornographic websites and medical journals; and An Idea Of Abstract, a re-engagement with formal concerns, including 'Desperately Seeking Paradise II', which appears to depict a panoramic skyline of an imaginary city with high-rise buildings, but close-up, is revealed to be thousands of smaller images depicting houses in Lahore, the city where Rana was born and is currently based. Cornerhouse Manchester until 18th December.

Miracles And Charms explores the extraordinary in the everyday with two linked shows.

Infinitas Gracias: Mexican Miracle Paintings is a display of Mexican votive paintings, usually executed on tin roof tiles or small plaques, depicting the moment of personal humility when an individual asks a saint for help and is delivered from disaster and sometimes death. The exhibition features over 100 votive paintings together with images, news reports, photographs, devotional artefacts, film and interviews, illustrating the depth of the votive tradition in Mexico. Usually commissioned from local artists by the petitioner, votive paintings tell immediate and intensely personal stories, from domestic dramas to revolutionary violence, through which a markedly human history of communities and their culture can be read. The profound influence of these vernacular paintings, and the artists and individuals who painted them, can be seen in the work of such figures as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, who were avid collectors.

Felicity Powell - Charmed Life: The Solace Of Objects comprises some 400 traditional amulets encircled with works by the artist. The amulets, ranging from simple coins to meticulously carved shells, dead animals to elaborately fashioned notes, are from a collection amassed by the banker and obsessive folklorist Edward Lovett, who scoured London by night, buying curious objects from the city's mudlarks, barrow men and sailors. The amulets are objects of solace. Intended to be held, touched, and kept close to the body, they are by turns designed and found, peculiar and familiar. Felicity Powell's works address the strange allure of these objects. Intricate miniatures, with white wax reliefs on black mirror slate, they carry the same intimacy of size as the amulets, and are meticulously crafted. Film works see the wax reliefs in animation, featuring the hands of the artist as she works, alongside medical scans of her body overlaid with drawn images of amulets.

Wellcome Collection, London until 26th February.

John Martin: Apocalypse charts the rise, fall and resurrection of a unique artistic reputation. John Martin was a key figure in the 19th century art world, renowned for his dramatic scenes of apocalyptic destruction and biblical catastrophe, yet he is little known today. This exhibition, the largest display of his works seen in public since 1822, brings together his most famous paintings, as well as previously unseen and newly restored works. It reassesses this singular figure in art history, and reveals the enduring influence of his apocalyptic vision on painting, cinema and spectacle. Hugely popular in his time, Martin was derided by the Victorian Art establishment as a 'people's painter', for although he excited mass audiences with his astounding scenes of judgement and damnation, to critics it was distasteful. His works were shown at popular venues like Piccadilly's Egyptian Hall rather than establishment galleries. In a sense ahead of this time, Martin's paintings - full of rugged landscapes and grandiose theatrical spectacle - have an enduring influence on today's cinematic and digital fantasy landscapes. The exhibition showcases the full range of Martin's most important oil paintings, including 'Belshazzar's Feast', The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum' and 'The Great Day of His Wrath', which toured the world after his death, thrilling audiences from New York to Sydney with their painstaking detail and epic sense of scale and drama; iconic mezzotint illustrations for The Bible and Milton's Paradise Lost; brilliant landscape watercolours; pioneering illustrations of dinosaurs, based on the latest fossil discoveries; and unrealised but visionary engineering projects, including plans for the embankment of the Thames and a metropolitan railway for London. Tate Britain until 15th January.

Richard Woods: Handmade Modern is an installation of new paintings and sculpture aimed at skewering design culture mores. Richard Wood's works seem to paradoxically both celebrate and gently mock British nostalgia for the designs of bygone eras, and undercut the somewhat self-congratulatory nature of Modernism through a collision of both aspirations. Presented overlaid on Woods's signature floorboard pattern-clad walls, his new Mock Tudor Mono Prints are based on hard-edged renditions of Mock Tudor suburban decoration, refiguring monochrome timbering as geometric abstractions in union flag patterns, where suburban Cheshire meets Neo Geo - the past made future. These are accompanied by a new sculpture series Hand Painted Table Leg Sculptures. These works are Victorian and Georgian style turned table legs that sit on barrel type structures and have been painted with band of concentric colour, aping Modern abstract painting. The clash of form and decoration gives the sculptures a peculiarly carnivalesque nature that stands in brilliant contrast to the austere monochrome minimalism of the Mock Tudor paintings. These two elements are interspersed with strikingly bright woodblock prints depicting Boy's Own-types hard at carpentry. Works|Projects, Sydney Row, Bristol, until 19th November.

Comedians From The 1940s To Now charts 70 years of British light entertainment through over 50 photographic portraits. The exhibition starts with comedians who began their careers while serving in the armed forces during the Second World War, including Kenneth Horne and Eric Sykes. From the 1950s a new captive audience was created with enduring radio shows such as Hancock's Half Hour staring Tony Hancock and Sid James, and The Goon Show with Spike Milligan. After them came performers from the satirical Establishment Club in the 1960s, including John Fortune, Eleanor Bron and John Bird. From the 1970s onwards, stars were made on television, from The Morecambe and Wise Show to The Catherine Tate Show, some of whom also forged film careers, such as Simon Pegg, Russell Brand and Ricky Gervais. On show for the first time are recent portraits of Jimmy Carr and Mitchell and Webb by Barry Marsden, Omid Djalili by Karen Robinson, Matt Lucas by Nadav Kander, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon by Rich Hardcastle, and Johnny Vegas by Karl J Kaul. Works by celebrated photographers such as Cecil Beaton and Annie Leibovitz are shown alongside portraits by less well known photographers such as Bob Collins, who documented the rise of radio and television performers in the 1950s; Lewis Morley, who became the 'official' photographer of the satire boom of the 1960s; and Trevor Leighton, who produced a survey of alternative comedians from the 1990s. The display includes a video introduction by Paul Merton, discussing the history of British comedy. National Portrait Gallery until 2nd January.


Kenneth Grange: Making Britain Modern is a retrospective of Britain's leading product designer, who, in a career spanning over 50 years, has designed some of the most iconic and familiar products and appliances in daily use. Kenneth Grange's prolific output has played a significant role in making Britain modern, as reflected in this exhibition of over 150 products, prototypes and sketches, as well as audio, photography and film. During the 1960s and 1970s Grange designed a considerable number of domestic products. The Kenwood Chef was a revelation in home baking and became a standard aesthetic for food mixers. Each of his designs supported new materials and advances in technology, in razors for Wilkinson Sword, cigarette lighters for Ronson, irons for Morphy Richards and pens for Parker. This was a time when Britain led the way with its strong manufacturing base and renewed vigour for design, a time when Britain to embraced the future. In 1968 Grange designed the iconic exterior and interior layout for the High Speed Intercity 125 train for British Rail. Its distinctive and futuristic aerodynamic cone nose caught the mood of the time and set the standard for high-speed train design still referenced today. During a long association with Kodak, Grange developed the Instamatic camera in 1968, followed by the Pocket Instamatic in 1972, the start of a new generation of portable, inexpensive cameras. In 1972 Grange, together with Alan Fletcher, Theo Crosby, Colin Forbes and Mervyn Kurlansky established Pentagram, a world renowned multi-disciplinary design consultancy. In the 1990s, Grange produced distinctive designs that have become part of the landscape, from the re-design of the London black cab, the Taxi TX1, to the Adshel bus shelters, continuing his work in street design that started with Britain's first parking meter for Venner in 1958. Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1, until 30th October.

Pirates: The Captain Kidd Story explores the myths and mysteries surrounding common perceptions of 17th and 18th century pirates. The exhibition also examines English society of the period, looking at gruesome ritual executions (including that of Captain Kidd on 23rd May 1701 at Execution Dock in Wapping), and the manipulation of the East India Company. The story of Scottish privateer William 'Captain' Kidd helped to create much of the pirate mythology that has been handed down since the Golden Age of piracy. Kidd's legacy is found in every tale of buried treasure, and with his contemporaries in crime, such as Blackbeard, has inspired fictional characters from Long John Silver to Captain Jack Sparrow. The exhibition reveals the close connection between the pirates of the high seas and the London that funded their activities, as Kidd was enmeshed in intrigue that involved corrupt MPs and the East India Company. The exhibition shows the remarkable breadth of pirate treasure plundered from ships bound for London's luxury goods markets. Over 170 objects in the display include images of the Quedah Merchant ship wreck, the vessel that was captured by Kidd on 30th January 1698; a real pirate flag; original maps of the period; the Admiralty Marshall's Silver Oar; a gibbet cage; an original 1724 edition of Captain Johnson's 'History of the Pyrates'; Kidd's last letter - with the promise of hidden treasure; and an early 18th century cannon. There is also an audio-visual presentation about the history of screen pirates, including Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate, Errol Flynn in Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk, and of course, Robert Newton as Long John Silver. The Museum of London Docklands, until 30th October.

Glamour Of The Gods: Hollywood Portraits examines the importance of photography in creating the stars of Hollywood from 1920 to 1960. The exhibition comprises around 90 vintage photographs, including portraits of Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Louise Brooks, Joan Crawford, Vivien Leigh, Loretta Young, Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, Rita Hayworth, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, taken by nearly 40 photographers, including George Hurrell, Clarence Sinclair Bull, Laszlo Willinger, Bob Coburn, Davis Boulton and Ruth Harriet Louise. It is a rare opportunity to view these important artifacts of a now extinct Hollywood studio system, and features both iconic and previously unseen studio portraits. These are shown alongside film scene stills, including Lillian Gish for 'The Wind', Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for 'Swing Time' and James Dean for 'Rebel Without A Cause'. These stills photographs, which were used for lobby cards and posters, had to encapsulate the film plot, or be powerful and dramatic enough to attract film-goers in just one image. The studios in Hollywood between 1920 and 1960 exercised an extraordinary level of control over the image of the stars they represented. The portraits they released to the public and press depicted the actors as glamorous and inaccessible, imbuing them with mystique. The photographers in this exhibition were the leading photographers employed by the studios to shoot and oversee the star portraits. Often stars built up a relationship with a photographer as was the case with Greta Garbo and Clarence Sinclair Bull, and Joan Crawford and George Hurrell. This was a time before paparazzi, and these photographs distributed by the studios were the only vehicle of connection between stars and fans. National Portrait Gallery until 23rd October.