News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th April 2005


Gregory Crewsdon: Beneath The Roses is a group of twenty photographs from the American artist's Twilight series. They are elaborately staged, large scale tableaux, which explore the relationship between the domestic and the fantastical, between the North American landscape and the topology of the imagination. Although Crewdson describes himself as an 'an American realist landscape photographer', he makes filmic images that strongly reference television programmes such as The Twilight Zone and films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, dealing with fantasy and the paranormal. In the intensely coloured and detailed images Crewdson employs a cinematic, directorial mode of photography, the culmination of weeks of planning and complicated, behind the scenes production, described as 'single frame films'. In one image, a teenage girl stands in the street in just her underwear with shoulders hunched and head hanging low, confronted and shamed by her mother's accusatory and disappointed gaze. In other images, subjects are engrossed in odd, domestic chores, such as carving holes in the living room floor or uprooting a huge tree from the rafters of an otherwise standard bedroom. Several of the images possess narratives that are mythic in proportion, and which seem driven by a sense of quasi-religious task and ritual. Threat is everywhere and danger is a short walk down the garden path. These eerie and evocative photographs recall the films of independent American filmmakers such as David Lynch or Todd Solondz, who explore surreal suburban dysfunction and the terror that lurks beneath everyday life. White Cube Gallery, London until 21st May.

Monarch Of The Glen: Landseer In The Highlands is the first exhibition devoted to the work of the iconic nineteenth century British animal painter. It comprises 83 paintings, providing a unique opportunity to see the full range of Sir Edwin Landseer's work, encompassing literary pictures inspired by the novels and poems of Sir Walter Scott, Highland landscapes painted for his own pleasure, observations of Highland social life and customs, and studies of deer informed by his knowledge as a practising sportsman. A child prodigy, Landseer began exhibiting animal studies at the Royal Academy at the age of thirteen. From his twenties onwards he returned to Scotland annually to paint, shoot and fish, activities that brought him into contact with the Scottish aristocratic families of the day. Many became his patrons, resulting in works such as 'The Death of the Stag in Glen Tilt', 'The Hunting of Chevy Chase' and 'An Illicit Whisky Still in the Highlands'. This led on to Landseer being commissioned to paint Queen Victoria, her family and pets. He rapidly became the Queen's favourite court painter and painting tutor, accompanying her to Scotland to record her life in the Highlands, in works such as 'Queen Victoria Landing at Loch Muick' and 'Prince Albert at Balmoral (Sunshine)'. But it is animal paintings for which Landseer is best remembered, and a large section of the exhibition is devoted to his paintings of deer, including the world famous 'Monarch of the Glen', originally destined for the House of Lords. Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh until 10th July.

Mountains And Water: Chinese Landscape Painting is a display exploring the traditions and qualities of Chinese painting. The Chinese term for landscape is made up of the two characters meaning Mountains and Water. They represent a natural balance of male and female elements in the universe, with Mountains the male Yang element, and water the female Yin element. Mountains were also associated with religion because of their proximity to the heavens: looking at paintings of mountains was therefore thought to be good for the soul. Landscapes were not painted from life however, but were idealized and imaginary. The exhibition includes works painted onto ceramics, fans and mounted as albums, though most of the paintings are in the form of hanging scrolls. These scrolls were not intended for permanent display, but were unrolled in a ceremonial act for special viewings. This is partly due to the delicate nature of the ink and colour used, which would fade if exposed for too long. Connoisseurs of Chinese painting did not view the work from a distance, but approached close to 'read the painting' as it was revealed one scene at a time. Paintings often incorporate both calligraphy and poetry, as men of culture were expected to be accomplished at all three of these 'excellences'. Inscriptions on paintings sometimes describe how or when a painting was produced or for whom. Artists often collected miniature mountains, carved out of different stones, to place on their desk as an inspirational reminder of the natural landscape, and examples of these are included in the display. British Museum until 28th August.


Spectres: When Fashion Turns Back brings together historic costumes by designers such as Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaperelli, with clothes by today's designers, including Jean-Paul Gaultier, Martin Margiela and Hussein Chalayan, to explore the continuing and complicated influence of the past on the present. Special attention is paid to the endless reinterpretation of details, such as pleats, bows and lace. The staging reflects the theme of a journey into the past, through a world of Victorian fairgrounds and theatres, employing visual illusions, of magic lanterns, magnifying mirrors and peepholes, enabling the viewer to explore the detailing used by designers. Among those featured are many from the foreground of conceptual fashion during the past twenty years, including Viktor & Rolf, Comme des Garcons and Helmut Lang, together with earlier designers such as Christian Dior, Madame Gres and Mary Quant. Designs from the past and the present are brought together: a Victorian dress is paired with one by Olivier Theyskens; Pierre Cardin's futuristic 1960s mini with Junya Watanabe's silver dress; and a gown by Madame Gres with Helmut Lang. The experience is enhanced by Ruben Toledo's black and white illustrations that adorn the walls, providing the basis for giant cut out figures, which cast fantastical silhouettes; and jewellery designer Naomi Filmer's crystal encrusted prosthetics, which embellish mannequins used throughout the exhibition. Victoria & Albert Museum until 8th May.

Watercolours And Drawings From The Collection Of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother is the first exhibition devoted to the collection formed by the late Queen. It reflects the range of her interests, and her enthusiastic patronage and support of contemporary artists from the 1930s onwards. From her first portrait as Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon aged seven, to watercolours marking the celebration of her 100th birthday, the exhibition offers a record of both private and official life, with events such as her Coronation, Victory Night 1945 and the Funeral Procession of King George VI. The selection of 73 drawings and watercolours embraces artists from Thomas Gainsborough to John Bratby, while subjects range from records of events to landscapes, still-lifes, figure studies and portraits. The Queen Mother was a shrewd and knowledgeable buyer, bringing together a collection strong in 20th century British art, with important works by Augustus John, L S Lowry, John Piper, John Singer Sargent, Walter Sickert, and Graham Sutherland, including several portraits of herself and other members of the royal family. The exhibition includes works from the most famous and important royal commission instigated by Queen Mother, the series of watercolour views of Windsor Castle and surrounding parkland by John Piper. There are also personal letters from Kenneth Clark, John Piper, Augustus John, and the illustrator and stage designer Rex Whistler. The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh until 25th September.

Henry Moore And The Challenge Of Architecture explores the conflict between Henry Moore's interest in nature, and the tendency for his art to be shown in urban environments. Moore repeatedly stated that architects considered public sculpture as 'mere surface decoration' to adorn their buildings, and attempted to redress this, initially by making sculpture more integral to the building, and finally using tough abstract 'architectural contrasts of masses' that could stand as a force in their own right. Starting in the 1920s with Moore's architectural drawings and collaborations with Charles Holden for the West Wind relief on London's Transport Headquarters, the show follows both realised and abandoned architectural projects, resulting from his associations with Serge Chermayeff, Wells Coates, Maxwell Fry, Walter Gropius and Berthold Lubetkin, and post-war collaborations with Marcel Breuer, Gordon Bunshaft and I M Pei. A particular feature is Moore's work with Michael Rosenauer, including models and original maquettes for the Time/Life Building in Bond Street (which resulted in a legal dispute) and the unrealised English Electricity Headquarters for the Strand; and experimental sculptures for UNESCO that make use of elements such as steps, benches and walls. Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, Hertfordshire until 31st October.

Ferdinand Columbus: Renaissance Collector is a partial reconstruction of the print collection of Ferdinand, son of Christopher Columbus, the earliest and certainly the largest Renaissance collection known to historians. Throughout his adult life, Ferdinand travelled continuously through Europe, mainly on missions for the Spanish court, during which he went on detours to buy books and prints. The prints themselves were dispersed long ago, but an inventory preserved in Seville from the time of his death describes 3,200 engravings, woodcuts and maps, in addition to a library of 15,000 volumes. This exhibition presents around 150 prints by all the most important Renaissance printmakers. They include works from Italy by Antonio Polllaiuolo, Marcantonio Raimondi and Giovanni Battista Palumba; from Germany by Albrecht Durer, Israhel van Meckenem, Albrect Altdorfer, Hans Baldung, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Hans Weiditz; from Switzerland by Niklaus Manuel Deutsch and Urs Graf; and from the Low Countries by Lucas van Leyden, Jan Wellens de Cock and Jost de Negker. Many of the prints on display are great rarities (some survive in only one impression) and some, such as maps, are large format prints that have rarely been exhibited. One such highlight is a stencil coloured genealogical tree of the House of Charles V by Robert Peril that is 24ft long. British Museum until 5th June.

Wyndham Lewis : The Bone Beneath The Pulp is an opportunity to see drawings by the artist, novelist and cultural critic Percy Wyndham Lewis, one of the key avant-garde figures in early twentieth century British art, and founder of the Vorticist movement. This exhibition explores the contribution of drawing to Wyndham Lewis's art, revealing the diversity of his output, and mapping the intriguing personal history of his rivalries and friendships. Thirty five works selected from throughout Lewis's career are on display, including figure studies and portraits, alongside more experimental and abstract works, and those of imaginative fantasy. Beginning in the early 1900s, the exhibition traces his drawing from youthful figure studies, heavily indebted to Augustus John and the Slade School tradition, to the portraits of the 1920s and 1930s, outstanding in the clarity of their line, through to the surreal abstractions and dreamscapes of the 1930s and 1940s. Acknowledging the fundamental importance of first-class drawing, Lewis wrote in a short polemical essay in the late 1930s entitled 'The Role of Line in Art', that the line in drawing was nothing less than 'the bone beneath the pulp'. Startling in their range and visual dexterity, these drawings show Lewis as a highly experimental and accomplished draughtsman, who was also an artist of great imagination, wit and originality, as well as a distinctive colourist. Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal until 4th June.

Think & Wonder, Wonder & Think features the work of over twenty contemporary East London artists, who have been inspired by the unique toys, games and costumes in the permanent collection. Their creations are displayed alongside and amongst the objects that motivated them, providing a treasure hunt for visitors. Inspired by the dolls' houses, Kezia Cantwell-Wright has constructed a miniature tower block (more representative of the surrounding area than the Victorian building that houses the museum); while David Musgrave has made a tiny humanoid to sit among the mechanical toys; Dustin Ericksen has created his own display case, in which he has put photographs of the exhibits (perhaps pandering to what appears to be the current thinking in museums that seeing a video of an object is better than seeing the object itself); Lali Chetwynd is staging performances by local children; and there are works by Brian Griffiths, Jeff McMillan and Cornelia Parker, plus a tree planted for the porcelain dolls to enjoy, and a sculpture of seaside memories provoked by a display of buckets and spades. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green until 31st July.


William Orpen: Politics, Sex And Death is the first major public display of the artist's work since 1918, reflecting the fact he has suffered the fate of many painters of the Edwardian era: a kind of benign neglect. The exhibition reveals the full variety of Orpen's work, from his revitalisation of the nude, depicted in modern, natural or domestic situations, which shockingly contravened 19th conventions, to his extraordinary allegories and war paintings, where instead of showing the heat and action of battle, he portrayed its aftermath, with the cost in human terms. It includes conversation pieces, such as 'Homage to Manet' and 'A Bloomsbury Family', which demonstrate his interest in the old masters, from Velasquez to Hogarth and even the early work of Cezanne. There are also the series of Orpen's self portraits, which he executed throughout his life, often painted in a mirror, seen as part of the composition, and many of which mock his own character with a mixture of humour and bitterness. His experiences as an official war artist haunted him for the rest of his life, and the exhibition includes a selection of the portraits, landscapes and allegorical paintings that reflect his disillusion with the war and the ruin of his health. In all, the show includes over 80 oils and 40 drawings brought together from around the world for the first time. Imperial War Museum until 2nd May.

Andy Warhol Self Portraits is the first exhibition to be devoted entirely to Warhol's presentation and manipulation of his own likeness. One of the first artists to appropriate imagery from advertising and other expressions of consumer culture, particularly Campbell's Soup, Brillo and Coca Cola, and the creator of iconic portraits of post war celebrities from politics to show business, such as Mao-Tse Tung and Marilyn Monroe, Warhol's works have become the best known images of their period. This show brings together 85 of Warhol's self portraits, from his earliest youthful paintings and drawings of the 1940s, to gaunt, hollowed cheeked images made in 1986, shortly before his death. In assessing how he created the facade of his public persona in all its manifestations - paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, film and even wallpaper - and technicolor variety, with wigs, make up and accessories, it attempts to find the real Warhol beneath (always supposing there was one). It also suggests one of the things that the facade was trying to block out: a fear of death, particularly after he was shot by a writer who had appeared in his films. This manifests itself in images in which he includes a skull, or is being strangled by the hands of an unseen assailant, and appears in his final works, where he is staring out like a disembodied death's head. Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art, Edinburgh until 2nd May.

Hotel Futuro is the first solo show in the UK of recent film-works by Finnish artist Mika Taanila, and includes the premiere of his latest piece 'Optical Sound'. Taanila's works are collages of archive materials, found footage of amateur films and documentary, combined with electronic music. A common theme is his fascination with science fiction, and the futuristic ideas and utopias imagined in the recent past, focusing on the technological dreams of the previous generation. 'Futuro - A New Stance for Tomorrow' explores the history of an icon of space age design, the 100% plastic Futuro House, an egg shaped, prefabricated portable building designed by Matti Suuronen. 'The Future Is Not What It Used To Be' is about the scientist and artist Erkki Kurenniemi's 1960s avant-garde music and film, and the early history of microcomputers. 'A Physical Ring' is based on fragments of found footage, documenting physics test that took place in the 1940s, transformed into a visual fantasy steeped in hypnotic effects, accompanied by a minimalist soundtrack. 'Optical Sound' is based on a live performance of the Symphony for 12 Dot Matrix Printers by the Canadian artist duo [The User], intercutting close ups of the mechanical parts of the printers performing the piece, taken from surveillance cameras placed inside the machines, with images of the ASCII files's score being played. Spacex Gallery, Exeter until 30th April.