Private View held by Richard Andrews
Watercolour presents a fresh assessment of the history of watercolour painting in Britain from the Middle Ages through to the present day. The exhibition shows over 200 works including pieces by historic artists such as William Blake, Thomas Girtin and JMW Turner, through to modern and contemporary artists including Patrick Heron, Peter Doig, Tracey Emin and Anish Kapoor. Spanning 800 years and celebrating the variety of ways watercolour has been used, it shows how important the medium is within British art. Drawing out a grand history that traces the origins of watercolour back to medieval illuminated manuscripts, the exhibition reassesses the commonly held belief that the medium first flourished during a 'golden age' of British watercolour, from roughly 1750-1850. It reveals an older tradition evident in manuscripts, topography and miniatures, and challenges the notion that watercolour is singularly British by showing some key watercolours from continental Europe which influenced British artists, such as examples by Anthony van Dyck and Wenceslaus Hollar. Before the advent of photography, watercolour was used primarily for recording eye-witness accounts, because it was so versatile and portable. This exhibition shows the wide range of contexts in which watercolour was employed including documentation of exotic flora and fauna on Captain Cook's voyages, spontaneous on-the spot-recordings of landscapes by artists such as Turner and John Sell Cotman and on the battlefield by war artists such as William Simpson and Paul Nash. In addition, it also shows how watercolour has been used for visionary or abstract purposes with examples ranging from Blake through to the Pre-Raphaelites, Symbolists and Neo-Romantics in more recent times. Tate Britain until 21st August.
Robin And Lucienne Day: Design And The Modern Interior features the work of the couple whose designs were a quintessential part of the Contemporary style in Britain in the 1950s. The exhibition features over 50 Lucienne textiles alongside rare, early furniture by Robin, including key pieces such as the Royal Festival Hall lounge, dining and orchestra chairs. The most celebrated designer couple of the post war years, the Days rose to prominence during the 1951 Festival of Britain. Robin Day was commissioned to design the furniture for the Royal Festival Hall and Lucienne's arresting abstract-patterned textiles and wallpapers were displayed alongside Robin's steel and plywood furniture in the Homes and Gardens Pavilion. Like many architects and designers during the optimistic post-war period, the Days believed in the power of modern design to make the world a better place. Lucienne Day's fresh and progressive textile designs were revolutionary, inspired by plant forms, composed of spindly lines and irregular cupped motifs in earthy and acid tones. The originality of these early patterns grew from Lucienne's love of modern art, particularly the paintings of Joan Miro and Paul Klee. Robin Day's furniture designs were a direct rejection of the solid and ponderous form of pre-war furniture. His response to technology reflected the positive, forward looking mood of the early post-war era, and his sparing use of materials and economical approach to construction stemmed from the enforced austerity of the war years, when materials and labour were in short supply. The results included his famed armchairs with moulded plywood wings for arms and spindly legs that emphasise lightness and space. These habits became deeply ingrained in his design psyche, eventually finding their logical conclusion in the multi-million selling 1963 polypropylene chair, perhaps the most ubiquitous piece of furniture on the planet. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 26th June.
Manifold Greatness: Oxford And The Making Of The King James Bible celebrates the 400th anniversary of the publication of the most frequently printed book in English language. The exhibition tells the story behind the publication of the King James Bible., exploring the political, religious and intellectual context of its time, and looking at the events and conditions that led to and shaped this translation enterprise. Commissioned by King James I of England and VI of Scotland, the translation was the outcome of the laborious efforts of 47 scholars located in Oxford, Cambridge and Westminster. Drawing on the Bodleian holdings, the resources of collegiate libraries from around the University of Oxford, the exhibition specifically showcases the contribution of the Oxford translation committees, of which notable members were John Rainolds (President of Corpus Christi College), Henry Savile (Warden of Merton College) and Miles Smith (Corpus Christi and Brasenose College). The King James translation of the Bible exerted considerable cultural and social influence in the 17th century, and it has become ubiquitous in English speaking culture. The display includes Wycliffe's earliest translation of the Bible into English; John Bois's notes from the committee meeting at which the translation was finally agreed, revealing how words were re-ordered to make the Bible more majestic; reference books used by the committees to help identify biblical insects such as locusts; and a rare copy of the Wicked Bible of 1631, which omits the word 'not' from the seventh commandment, rendering it "Thou shalt commit adultery". Bodleian Library. Oxford, until 4th September.
Joan Miro: The Ladder Of Escape is the first major retrospective of the one of the 20th century's greatest artists to be held in London for almost 50 years. The exhibition represents the breadth of Joan Miro's output, with over 150 paintings, works on paper and sculptures. It explores the wider context of his work, bringing to light Miro's political engagement and examining the influence of his Catalan identity, the Spanish Civil War and the rise and fall of Franco's regime. Miro was among the most iconic of modern artists, evolving a Surrealist language of symbols that evokes a sense of freedom and energy in its fantastic imagery and direct colour. Often regarded as a forefather of Abstract Expressionism, his work is celebrated for its serene, colourful allure. However, from his earliest paintings onwards, there is also a more anxious and engaged side to Miro's practice, reflecting the turbulent political times in which he lived. Miro's work encompasses images of rural life such as 'The Farm' and 'Head of a Catalan Peasant', opposition to the Spanish Civil War in 'Aidez l'Espagne' and 'Le Faucheur', and the Second World War in the 'Constellation' paintings, the atmosphere of protest in the late 1960s achieved by blackening or setting fire to pieces such as 'May 1968' and 'Burnt Canvas II', or by creating euphoric explosions of paint in 'Fireworks', through to the 'Hope of a Condemned Man' triptych, in which he publicly declared his opposition to Franco. This exhibition explores these responsive, passionate characteristics across six decades of Miro's extraordinary career. Tate Modern until 11th September.
Robot - A Collection of Robots, Cyborgs and Androids brings together a group of robots in all their guises, some are friendly, others helpful, and a few simply scary. The exhibition encompasses full size robots, robot parts, film props, and promotional costumes and toys, plus collectible robot models. Visitors have the opportunity to come face to face with some of the metal stars of the big screen such as the Planet Robot, thought to be inspired by Robby the Robot from the Hollywood movie Forbidden Planet; a vintage Robocop and a B9 robot torso made by Andy Shaw, the original Dalek builder; Fem-bots represented by the beautiful Grace; a promotional battle droid; a rare Sonny, who starred alongside Will Smith in the film I, Robot; R.A.D. personal robots as featured on Tomorrow's World; and the famous Scooter 2000; plus The Terminator and Judge Dred. In addition to the exhibition, 'Riveting Robots' workshops with robots to make, art and craft activities and prizes to win in robot themed party games, plus a giant robot sculpture to make and a have-a-go obstacle using radio controlled robots, will take place during school holidays and bank holiday weekends. The Historic Dockyard Chatham until 17th June.
Street Cries: Depictions Of London's Poor considers how the urban poor and underprivileged were reflected in art from the 17th to the 19th century. The exhibition comprises significant paintings, prints and drawings by artists including Edward Penny, Marcellus Laroon, Phoebus Levin, Gustave Dore, Theodore Gericault, Thomas Rowlandson and Paul Sandby. The prints and drawings illustrate street vendors and London's urban poor, including travelling carpenters and cane-weavers, prostitutes and criminals. Some of these images present an idealised vision of the poor, while others are amongst the first works of art to attempt a more realistic view of London's underprivileged inhabitants - although these tended to be commercial flops. This is a fascinating exhibition that combines social history and the development of illustration and printmaking. The collection poses questions about how society in these periods was organised, the motives of those making, selling and buying the prints, and the status and identity of the people portrayed. The exhibition explores these issues and offers a chance to see some real gems that are rarely displayed for conservation reasons: delicate watercolours depicting gritty London subject matter. Museum of London until 31st July.
The Cult Of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860 - 1900 celebrates the first artistic movement to inspire an entire lifestyle, prizing the importance of art and the pleasure of beautiful things above all else. Comprising over 250 objects, this exhibition gathers many of the greatest masterpieces in painting together with sculpture, design, furniture and architecture, as well as fashion and literature of the era. Aestheticism was a British movement born as a reaction to the art and ideas of the Victorian establishment. The display traces its development from the romantic bohemianism of a small avant-garde circle in the 1860s to a cultural phenomenon. The style was characterised by a widespread use of motifs such as the lily, the sunflower and the peacock feather, drawing on sources as diverse as Ancient Greek art and modern day Japan, which had just been opened up to the West. Aestheticism created an unprecedented public fascination in the lives of artists, and the exhibition explores the dazzling array of personalities in the group, including William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Oscar Wilde. The clear artistic ideal that emerged from the confusion of styles in the mid 19th century was the 'cult of beauty' that brought together the Pre-Raphaelite bohemians like Dante Gabriel Rossetti, maverick figures such as James McNeill Whistler, and the painters of grand, classical subjects like Frederic Leighton and G F Watts. These painters created an entirely new type of beauty, where mood, colour and harmony were more important than the subject. The public became mesmerised by the extravagant dress and the homes or 'Palaces of Art' of figures like Leighton and Lawrence Alma-Tadema. The exquisite interiors and collections within these houses inspired aristocrats, intellectuals and entrepreneurs across the country to reproduce a similar style in their own homes. A number of setpieces within the exhibition evoke interiors of the day, such as the celebrated Grosvenor Gallery exhibition, Whistler's Peacock Room and Rossetti's bedroom in Chelsea. Victoria & Albert Museum until 17th July.
Love Me: Zed Nelson is a reflection on the cultural and commercial forces that drive a global obsession with youth and beauty. Over a period of 5 years photographer Zed Nelson visited 18 countries across 5 continents, photographing cosmetic surgeons, beauty queens and bodybuilders, alongside everyday teenagers, housewives and businessmen. This extensive cross-cultural investigation encompasses an annual prison beauty contest in a South American penitentiary, Iranians queuing for nose jobs in Tehran, and female staff at a Russian nuclear agency competing for the title of 'Miss Atom'. The project explores a new form of globalisation, where an increasingly narrow Western beauty ideal is being exported around the world like a universal brand. Whilst Nelson's subjects appear willing participants in an omnipresent culture of bodily improvement, they might equally be considered hapless victims - at the mercy of larger social forces and locked into an insatiable craving for approval. With deadpan full-frontal poses and no-thrills documentary compositions, Nelson portrays the bloated, sun-scorched anatomies of bodybuilders and the stretched-faced fish pouts of willing victims of cosmetic surgery. The evidence he presents supports the argument that this drastic striving for perfection mostly results in the grotesque. Impressions Gallery, Bradford, until 29th May.
Dirt: The Filthy Reality Of Everyday Life travels across centuries and continents to explore our ambivalent relationship with dirt. Bringing together around 200 objects, spanning visual art, documentary photography, cultural ephemera, scientific artefacts, film and literature, the exhibition uncovers a rich history of disgust and delight in the grimy truths and dirty secrets of our past. In addition, it points to the uncertain future of filth, which poses a significant risk to our health but is also vital to our existence. The exhibition introduces six very different places as a starting point for examining attitudes towards dirt and cleanliness: a home in 17th century Delft in Holland, exploring the widely celebrated and satirised Dutch obsession with cleanliness; a street in Victorian London, with the mudlarks, ragpickers and dustmen and women, whose meagre living depended on the dirt and detritus of the city; a hospital in Glasgow in the 1860s, where Joseph Lister's regime of cleanliness marked the birth of antiseptic surgery; a museum in Dresden in the early 20th century, whose theories were co-opted into the ideological horrors of racial purity and ethnic cleansing by the Nazis; a community in present day New Delhi, where survival by manual scavenging and the clearing of human waste persists; and the ongoing 30 year project to transform New York's Fresh Kills, once the largest landfill in the world, into a public park. Highlights of the display include paintings by Pieter de Hooch; the earliest sketches of bacteria; John Snow's "ghost map" of cholera; beautifully crafted blue delftware; Joseph Lister's scientific paraphernalia; and a wide range of contemporary art, from Igor Eskinja's dust carpet, Susan Collis bejewelled broom and James Croak's dirt window, to video pieces by Bruce Nauman and Mierle Ukeles, plus a specially commissioned work by Serena Korda. Wellcome Collection, London, until 31st August.
Alice In Wonderland Treasures provides an opportunity to see rare first and second editions of the legendary Alice books, together with other Lewis Carroll associated artefacts and memorabilia. When Alice's Adventures In Wonderland was first published in 1865 the author Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) received a complaint about the quality of the printing from John Tenniel who had supplied the illustrations, so the first issue was withdrawn and a second one commissioned. As a result, copies of the first issue are extremely rare, but this exhibition includes a copy in the original red cloth binding. In addition, there are a number of editions of both Alice books, with illustrations by Arthur Rackham, Alice Ross, Charles Robinson and Gwynedd M Hudson, together with other works by Lewis Carrol. Among the other highlights are a presentation copy Alice's Adventures In Wonderland showing a poem written by the author for the actress Marion Terry; a first edition of Through The Looking-glass, And What Alice Found There signed by the original Alice, Alice Pleasance Hargreaves (nee Liddel); an 1893 advertisement apologising for the printing of the illustrations in the latest issue of Through The Looking-glass and requesting holders of copies to return them for exchange; a letter from Dodgson appealing against the inclusion of his name and pseudonym in Halkett and Laing's 'A dictionary of anonymous and pseudonymous literature of Great Britain'; and 'The Wonderland postage-stamp-case' and 'The game of logic', both invented by Dodgson. National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 2nd May.
Old Master Drawings: Guercino, Rubens And Tintoretto explores why artists have drawn over the centuries, from copying other works to making life studies, and the role of sketching in the creation of artworks. Works by some of the great Italian Renaissance and Northern European artists between 1500 and 1800 are used to examine the reasons for producing drawings. Some artists use drawing to loosen their wrists before starting painting or sculpting (like limbering up before taking part in sport), some see drawings as a key part of the creative process, where ideas are expressed then retained or discarded, and some are simply doodling or amusing themselves and others. Among the highlights are: 'Monster animal and peasant', drawn by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri known as Guercino, who liked to show off his inventive imagination by drawing bizarre or fantastical creatures, to amuse himself and his friends, depicting an odd animal, part chicken, part human foot with dog's ears, watched by a terrified peasant; Peter Paul Rubens's 'God creating Adam', more naturalistic and animated than Michelangelo's version, and 'Study for the circumcision', which differs in details from the huge finished painting now on the High Altar of Genoa's Church of the Gesu; and 'Study of the head of Giuliano de Medici by Michelangelo' made from the statue by Jacopo Tintoretto, who admired Michelangelo's Florentine Medici tomb statues so much that he kept a full size copy of one in his Venetian studio. Other artists in the exhibition include Luca Signorelli, Giorgio Vasari, Guido Reni, Claude Lorraine and Francois Boucher. Lady Lever Gallery, Liverpool, until 2nd May.
Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition showcases more than 300 artefacts retrieved from wreck of the RMS Titanic over one and a half miles below the surface of the North Atlantic. The exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the life of the White Star Line ship. It touches on every important aspect of the Titanic's story, from construction, launching, and life on board, through the tragic sinking and dramatic rescue of over 700 people, to the discovery of the ship 73 years later, and the innovative recovery and conservation of some 5,500 objects made over the 25 years since then. The exhibition has been created with a focus on the Titanic's human stories, told through authentic artefacts and re-creations of the ship's decks, first and third class cabins, cargo hold and boiler room. Delicate bottles of perfume, china and crystal decanters bearing the logo of the White Star Line, the bell that hung over the crow's nest, the telegraph used to relay orders from the bridge to the engine room, a Gladstone bag and other items of luggage, and many other objects collected from the wreck site, offer poignant connections to lives abruptly ended or forever changed by one of the world's greatest maritime tragedies. 14 of the artefacts on view are on display for the first time, their conservation having only just been completed. There is also video footage of this summer's expedition when scientists were mapping the wreck site. A gallery is devoted to the stories of passengers and crew with a London connection, ranging from fashion designer Lady Duff Cooper to stewardess Violet Jessop. The O2 Bubble, Greenwich, until 1st May.