News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th February 2013

Man Ray Portraits focuses on the photographic portraiture of one of the most innovative and influential artists of his generation. Man Ray's versatility and experimentation as an artist is illustrated throughout his photography although this was never his chosen principal artistic medium. The exhibition comprises over 150 vintage prints from Man Ray's career taken between 1916 and 1968, with portraits of his celebrated contemporaries shown alongside often intimate portraits of friends and his social circle. These include Marcel Duchamp, Berenice Abbott, Andre Breton, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, James Joyce, Erik Satie, Henri Matisse, Barbette, Igor Stravinsky, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dali, Le Corbusier, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Coco Chanel and Wallis Simpson. Also on show are portraits of his lovers Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin) and Lee Miller, who was also his assistant and collaborator, Ady Fidelin, and his last muse and wife Juliet Browner. Although born in America, Man Ray moved to Paris in 1921, where, as a contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, he was perfectly placed to make defining images of his contemporaries from the avant-garde. In this period he was instrumental in developing and producing a type of photogram which he called 'Rayographs', and is credited in rediscovering and developing, alongside Lee Miller, the process of solarisation. This can be seen in the portraits of Elsa Schiaparelli, Irene Zurkinden, Lee Miller, Suzy Solidor and his own 'Self-Portrait with Camera'. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Man Ray moved to Hollywood, where subjects included Ruth Ford, Paulette Goddard, Ava Gardner, Tilly Losch and Dolores del Rio. Returning to Paris in 1951 he experimented with colour photography in portraits of Juliette Greco, Yves Montand and Catherine Deneuve. National Portrait Gallery until 27th May.

Quentin Blake: Drawn By Hand looks at individual works produced in the past few years by Britain's premier 'pen and ink' artist. Although Quentin Blake is best known as a book illustrator, with his grand total now topping 325, and in particular for his iconic images of the characters from stories by Roald Dahl, over the last decade he has also produced individual etchings, lithographs, drawings and works in various and contrasting media. This exhibition offers a chance to sample those, and in particular, an original in watercolour pastel from the sequence 'The Life of Birds', as well as originals, drawn in reed-pen and watercolour, from two series of pictures of mothers and their babies swimming underwater that decorate the maternity unit of Angers Hospital in France, and the Rosie Birth Centre at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. In addition there are illustrations from David Walliams's book The Boy in the Dress. These works are accompanied by a display of pens, brochures, inks, watercolours, etching plates and other materials from Blake's studio, giving an insight into his working methods. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 12th May.

Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901 offers the chance to consider the early development of one of the towering figures of 20th century art, at a time when he was still just a young Spanish hopeful in Paris. The exhibition focuses on Pablo Picasso's figure paintings of 1901, and explores his development during this seminal year, when he found his own artistic voice and established his early reputation. It reunites major paintings from his debut exhibition with the influential dealer Ambroise Vollard, which show the young painter taking on and transforming the styles and subjects of major modern artists of the age, such as Van Gogh, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. In the second half of 1901, Picasso radically changed the direction of his art, heralding the beginning of his now famous Blue period. Inspired partly by the recent suicide of a close friend, Picasso produced a group of profoundly moving paintings of melancholic figures that are considered to be among his first masterpieces. They are also among the earliest paintings to bear the famously assertive and singular Picasso signature, which he adopted at that time. Among the highlights are 'Dwarf-Dancer', 'At the Moulin Rouge', 'The Blue Room', 'Absinthe Drinker', 'Seated Harlequin', 'Harlequin and Companion', 'Child with a Dove', 'Evocation (The Burial of Casagemas)' a radical and highly unusual painting that challenged the conventions of religious art, and 'Yo - Picasso', one of his most powerful and famous self-portraits. Courtauld Gallery, London, until 26th May.

Continuing

Ice Age Art: Arrival Of The Modern Mind comprises over 100 masterpieces of Ice Age sculpture, ceramics, drawing and personal ornaments. These include the oldest known ceramic figures in the world, as well as the oldest known portrait and figurative pieces, all of which were created over 20,000 years ago. Rather than archaeological finds, these striking objects are presented as art made long ago by people with developed brains like our own. Archaeological evidence reveals that the modern brain emerged just over 100,000 years ago with the appearance of art and complex behavior patterns. This exhibition demonstrates how the creators of these works had brains that had the capacity to express themselves symbolically through art and music. One example is a 23,000 year old mammoth ivory sculpture of an 'abstract' figure from Lespugue, France. Picasso was so fascinated with this 'cubist' piece that he kept two copies of it. This figure demonstrates a visual brain capable of abstraction, the essential quality needed to acquire and manipulate knowledge which underpins our ability to analyse what we see. Works by major modern artists including Picasso, Henry Moore and Matisse are included to establish connections across time, highlighting the fundamental human desire to create works of great beauty. This can be appreciated in a striking drawing of two deer engraved on a piece of bone found in the cave of Le Chaffaud, Vienne, France. The deer are well composed within the space and positioned with considered perspective so that they appear to be standing side by side with one slightly behind the other. The works display a variety of ways of encapsulating movement which are the precursors of modern animation and cinema. This theme is further explored in an installation recreating the extraordinary artistry of the great painted caves such as Chauvet, Lascaux and Altamira, to provide the surreal experience of viewing paintings deep underground in the flickering light of burning torches and fat lamps. British Museum until 26th May.

Painted Pomp: Art And Fashion In The Age Of Shakespeare combines portraits and rare survivals of dress from the period to reveal the heights of the art and fashion of 400 years ago. One of the most important groups of Jacobean portraits in the country forms the centrepiece of this exhibition. Nine full length portraits by William Larkin, painted around 1613-18, depict members of an extended family, relatives of Thomas Howard, the first Earl of Suffolk. They may have been made to mark a marriage between the Cecil and Howard families, two of the most powerful Jacobean courtly families during an unsettled period of intrigue and social change. The most striking features of the portraits are the costumes, recorded by the artist in painstaking detail to reflect the huge wealth and status of the sitters. Some extraordinary fashion statements are also captured, including shoe laces threaded through the ear of the 4th Earl of Dorset, and the startling decolletage of Lady Isabel Rich. The paintings record not only the richness of the fabrics and fashions in exquisite detail, but also current ideas of beauty, such as elaborately dressed hair, and skin so pale and translucent as to reveal the blue veins beneath. To help bring the portraits alive, they are accompanied by a selection of early 17th century clothing and accessories. These include an embroidered bodice, rare fans, shoes, beautiful punto in aria lace (literally 'stitches in the air'), gloves embroidered in silks and trimmed with gold and silver, and elaborate men's shirts of fine blackwork embroidery and cutwork. Holburne Museum, Bath, until 6th May

Extinction: Not The End Of The World? tells stories that encompass lost species, survivors of mass extinctions, and those currently endangered. Although over 99% of all species that roamed the earth are now extinct, a rich mix of animals and plants survive. In this exhibition astonishing images and interactive installations bring to life some of those amazing lost species, from the dinosaur to the Irish elk, bizarre insects and super-sized birds, including a new more historically accurate model of the icon of extinction, the dodo, raphus cucullatus. The display celebrates those that have survived past mass extinctions, such as the leatherback turtle, and those that have even returned from the dead. Alongside dramatic photos and film footage, there are 80 real specimens, including the 6ft skull of a 65 million year old chasmosaurus belli - one of the last dinosaurs, the 12ft head and antlers of an extinct Irish elk, the skull of a sabre-tooth tiger, an enormous elephant bird egg, and tiny live Mexican pupfish, cyprinodon longidorsalis, which only exist today because they were saved by the London Zoo when their habitat was drained. The display also highlights those species that are endangered today, with an 8ft model of a bluefin tuna, thunnus thynnus, a Californian condor, a 4ft giant clam, and an adult tiger, panthera tigris, of which only 3,000 remain in the wild. Natural History Museum until 8th September.

Schwitters In Britain is the first major exhibition in Britain to examine the late work of one of the major artists of European Modernism. The exhibition focuses on Kurt Schwitters's British period, from his arrival in Britain as a refugee in 1940 until his death in Cumbria in 1948, and comprises over 150 collages, assemblages and sculptures, many shown for the first time in over 30 years. Schwitters was a significant figure in European Dadaism who invented the concept of Merz: 'the combination, for artistic purposes of all conceivable materials'. Whether those materials were string, cotton wool or a pram wheel, Schwitters considered them to be equal with paint. He is best known for his pioneering use of found objects and everyday materials in abstract collage, installation, poetry and performance. Schwitters's collages often incorporated fragments from packaging and newspapers reflecting British life, such as the London bus tickets and Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts wrappers used in 'Untitled (This is to Certify That)'. Highlights include an early example of Schwitters's unique concept of Merz in the assemblage 'Merz Picture 46 A. The Skittle Picture', the sculpture 'Untitled (Birchwood Sculpture)', and 'Anything with a Stone'. In 1945 Schwitters relocated to the Lake District, and inspired by the rural Cumbrian landscape, began to incorporate natural objects into his work, as shown in small sculptures including 'Untitled (Opening Blossom)', and his last great sculpture and installation, the Merz Barn. Tate Britain until 12th May.

Vikings! explores and challenges conceptions of what has become a mythical period in Scandinavia. The exhibition features more than 500 objects from the Viking period, including jewelry, weapons, carvings, precious metals and household items from the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm, which have rarely been seen outside Scandinavia. Recent archaeological discoveries have shed new light on the Viking Age, challenging commonly held views of this key period in European history. The traditional view of the Vikings - stereotypes of raiders wearing horned helmets - has been replaced by a more complete picture. The exhibition explores the power of mythology and the symbolism of Viking ships; offers insights into domestic life and death rituals; and reveals evidence of astonishing Viking workmanship in jewellery, metalwork, textiles and objects made from glass, bone and amber. Highlights include the earliest Scandinavian crucifix, a trefoil brooch of silver and gold with animal ornamentation, pendants representing the pagan Norse Gods, a silver thorshammer pendant with filigree ornamentation, and an animal-head brooch made from bronze, silver and gold. By bringing together these unique objects with new research, the exhibition reveals who the Vikings really were, and creates a vivid picture of how they lived more than 1,000 years ago. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 12th May.

Through American Eyes: Frederic Church And The Landscape Oil Sketch reveals the majestic scenes and striking colouration in the work of the man considered by many to be the greatest American exponent of the landscape oil sketch. Frederic Church's oil sketches reveal the freshness of his work and the spontaneity of his style as he captured scenes out of doors, some of which he elaborated later in the studio. Regarded as one of the most ambitious of the Hudson River School landscape painters, Church's works reveal a voracious appetite for travel to locations as distant as Ecuador, 'Distant View of the Sangay Volcano, Ecuador', Jordan, 'Ed Deir, Petra', Jamaica, 'Ridges in the Blue Mountains, Jamaica', Germany, 'Konigssee, Bavaria', and the waters off Labrador where he studied icebergs. The exhibition of some 30 oil sketches also includes works executed closer to Church's home on the Hudson in upstate New York, including 'Winter Twilight from Olana' and 'Hudson, New York at Sunset', which reflect his interest in the American landscape and his exploration of the effect of light. They are accompanied by Church's completed oil painting 'Niagara Falls, from the American Side', a canvas of over 2m square, to illustrate the journey from sketch to completed oil painting. National Gallery until 28th April.

Concluding

Valentino: Master Of Couture celebrates the life and work of the legendary Italian fashion designer. The exhibition offers a rare glimpse behind the closed doors of the world of Valentino Garavani, known simply as Valentino, who founded his eponymous fashion house in Rome in the late 1950s, and has since established an illustrious career designing for the world's most glamorous women, from royalty to Hollywood stars. It showcases over 130 hand crafted designs worn by icons such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Gwyneth Paltrow. Featuring dresses from the couture catwalk and red carpet, as well as designs commissioned by private clients, the show brings together a comprehensive collection of couture, much of which has never been seen outside the Valentino atelier. The atelier crafted design each so diligently by hand, taking hours, sometimes days to complete. The detailing is incredibly intricate, but as the dresses have rarely been seen outside the runway shows and events, this is the first opportunity for their fineness to be appreciated. Among the highlights are the vintage dress worn by Julia Roberts when she won an Academy Award in 2001, Jackie Onassis's wedding dress from the 1968 White Collection, and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece's pearl-encrusted ivory silk wedding gown, which she wore to marry Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece in 1995. In a reversal of the usual roles, visitors progress down a catwalk, and the 'audience' is dressed in Valentino's designs, with evening gowns, dresses, trouser suits, minis, capes and kaftans, providing a journey through fashion from the 1950s to today. Somerset House, London, until 3rd March.

Trog, Flook And Humph Too! features cartoons, caricatures and cartoon strips by Wally Fawkes and Humphrey Lyttelton. Wally Fawkes - 'Trog' - is one of the most highly regarded British cartoonists of the post‐war era, who excelled in four different types of cartooning ‐ cartoon strips, caricatures, editorial and pocket cartoons. Fawkes's cartoon strip Flook evolved from a children's strip into Britain's satirical strip cartoon, and he produced powerfully condensed political cartoons for the Daily Mail, New Statesmen, Private Eye, Times, Punch, Observer and Sunday Telegraph, and his pithy pocket 'Mini‐Trog' combined wicked mockery with a lightness of touch and needlepoint precision. But Fawkes is admired above all for his peerless caricatures, with subjects including everyone from George Best and Francis Bacon to John Gielgud, George Melly, Michael Jackson, Brigitte Bardot and the Queen, as well as greats from the world of jazz such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitgerald. 'Trog' and 'Humph' were lifelong friends, as when trumpeter Lyttelton left George Webb's Dixielanders to form his own band in 1948, he invited clarinettist Fawkes to join him, and they played and recorded together over many decades. The exhibition includes over 120 cartoons, caricatures and cartoon strips from the 1945 to 2005 by Wally Fawkes with a small selection of cartoons by Humphrey Lyttelton. The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1, until 28th February.

The Swords Of Middle Earth features proof copies of 4 heroic swords used in the The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy, based on J R R Tolkien's epic tale of Middle-earth. The evocatively named swords were crafted in the past two years by swordsmith Peter Lyon, and award-winning production workshop Weta, the creators of the original swords for both The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit film productions. They are not simply props but real fighting weapons. The two-handed sword Anduril, originally called Narsil, was forged by the dwarf weaponsmith, Telchar of Nogrod was used by King Elendil against Sauron, during the battle of Dagorlad. The hand-and-a-half sword of Aragorn, when he went under the name Strider, a long, elegant and plain fighting sword bears a simple blade with neither flourish nor adornment, with a grip bound in leather. The two-handed sword of the wizard Gandalf, which was named Glamdring, and was forged by Elves in the First Age for Turgon, has a blade that is slightly leaf-shaped, and glows blue or white when evil Orcs or Balrogs are nearby, as do all Elven blades. Sting, the sword of Frodo Baggins, was given to him by his cousin Bilbo Baggins, who found it in a Troll-hoard in the caves beneath The Misty Mountains, Gondolin, and although only a dagger, it was of sword-length for a small Hobbit. Royal Armories, Leeds, until 28th February.