Private View held by Richard Andrews
Georgians Revealed: Life, Style And The Making Of Modern Britain reveals the people of Georgian Britain as they really were, through the objects that tell the stories of their lives. The exhibition covers the period 1714 to 1830, during which British society was transformed, the population trebled, and London became a modern city. Scores of ideas, objects, institutions and customs that we now take for granted took root in Georgian Britain. Taking tea, reading magazines, gardening and shopping for leisure were commonplace, and conspicuous consumption became the pastime of the emerging middle classes. Popular culture as we know it began, and with it the unstoppable rise of fashion and celebrity. At assemblies and masquerades, in theatres and fashionable shops, the different classes rubbed shoulders, and it was all recorded in illustrated books, newspapers, handbills and prints, plus the first fashion plates and shopping catalogues. Art galleries, museums and charities were founded, such as Royal Academy, the British Museum, and the Royal Institution, as were retail emporia, such as Fortnum & Mason and the Burlington Arcade. During this time of incredible innovation, ideas were endlessly debated in the new coffee houses and spread via the new medium of mass print. The exhibition features some 200 exhibits, including not only a rich and rare collection of illustrated books, newspapers, maps and advertisements, but artworks, engravings, cartoons and artefacts, to evoke this era of irrevocable change, and to tell the stories of notorious and scandalous characters whose escapades would not be out of place in the celebrity magazines of today. The British Library until 11th March.
Louise Bourgeois: I Give Everything Away celebrates the work of one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century. In a career spanning seven decades, from the 1940s until her death in 2010, she produced some of contemporary art's most enduring images, making sculptures, installations, writings and drawings which, in mining her own psyche, have entered the collective unconscious. Bourgeois's work is personal yet universal, rooted in the details of her own life, but reaching out to touch the lives of others. This exhibition of work on paper presents some of her most intimate work, both drawing and writing. It begins with a labyrinthine presentation of 'Insomnia Drawings', a suite of 220 drawings and writings made between November 1994 and June 1995 specifically to combat the insomnia which she once described as regulating her life. Created in the suspended state between sleeping and waking, they contain all the major themes of Bourgeois's work and reveal the close link between drawing and writing that is such a key part of her practice. Other highlights include two suites of large-scale works 'When Did This Happen?' and 'I Give Everything Away,' both a mix of writing, drawing and printmaking that are haunted and haunting. Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, until 23rd February.
Louise Bourgeois: A Woman Without Secrets is a complementary exhibition comprised of later works. These include 'Poids', 'Couple I', 'Cell XIV (Portrait)', 'Eyes', the cycle of 16 monumental drawings 'A L'Infini', together with Bourgeois's final vitrine, 'Untitled'. It confirms how Bourgeois, working in a variety of materials and scales, explores the mystery and beauty of human emotions. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, until 18th May.
An American In London: Whistler And The Thames features works that offered a fresh and striking view of mid Victorian London. James Abbott McNeill Whistler first arrived in London in 1859 and his paintings mark one of his most successful and profound assaults on the art establishment of the day. The American born artist immersed himself in the life of Victorian London, with a particular focus on the bustling neighborhood surrounding Battersea Bridge, including the workers and women who frequented the Thames-side wharves and pubs, the barges that navigated the perilous passage under the bridges, and the steamboats and wherries crowded with day trippers that paddled up and down Battersea Reach. This exhibition of some 70 works comprises an array of paintings of Chelsea and the Thames, along with prints and rarely seen drawings, watercolours and pastels. These include 'Battersea Reach from Lindsey Houses', 'The Tall Bridge', 'The Last of Old Westminster', 'Black Lion Wharf', 'Brown and Silver: Old Battersea Bridge', 'Pink and Silver - Chelsea, the Embankment' and 'Wapping'. They are complemented by historical photographs that provide further insight into the Chelsea neighbourhood where he lived and worked, plus portraits of Whistler and his patrons, bringing to life the key personalities that featured in the period. The display culminates in some of Whistler's iconic Nocturnes, including 'Grey and Silver: Chelsea Wharf', 'Grey and Silver: Old Battersea Reach' and 'Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge'. Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21, until 12th January.
Masterpieces Of Chinese Painting 700 - 1900 is an ambitious survey of one of the world's greatest artistic traditions. The exhibition gathers together the finest examples of Chinese painting created over a 1200 year period and shows more than 70 works, including some of the earliest surviving Chinese paintings. From small scale intimate works by monks and literati to a 14m long scroll painting, many of the paintings are shown in Europe for the first time. The exhibition examines the recurrent themes and evolving aesthetics characteristic of Chinese paintings and looks at the constant interplay between tradition and innovation. It considers how paintings were created for a variety of settings from tombs, temples, palaces, domestic houses and private gardens and in a range of formats from banners, screens, hand-held fans to portable handscrolls and hanging scrolls. Materials, including a large piece of ultramarine pigment created from lapis lazuli discovered in a 10th century artist's studio and studio equipment reconstructed according to a 14th century manual reveal the technical process and traditional techniques employed. Highlights include a 9th century double-sided ceremonial banner 'Bodhisattva Wearing Monastic Robes' showing a sacred and enlightened figure; an illustrated manuscript attributed to Liang Lingzan 'Five Planets and Twenty-Eight Mansions', the earliest surviving painting of astronomy from the Imperial collection; 'Nine Dragons' by Chen Rong, the oldest and finest dragon scroll, in which each of the mythical creatures are expressed in different positions amidst clouds, water and mountains, representing the dynamic forces of nature in Daoism; 'Four Pleasures', attributed to Ren Renfa, a series illustrating the delight in the literati pursuits of calligraphy, painting, music and games; and 'Flowers on the River' by Bada Shanren, one of the longest paintings in the world, showing a superb and intricate handling of ink and control. Victoria & Albert Museum until 19th January.
Laura Ashley, The Romantic Heroine marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Laura Ashley label, celebrating the vision of the romantic heroine of fashion in the 1960s and 1970s. Departing from the knee length and mini-dress styles dominating fashion of the period, Laura Ashley created the look described as 'soft-core femininity' and 'Victorian type demureness'. It was a look that prompted a generation of young women to dress up as Thomas Hardy's milkmaid from Tess of the d'Urbevilles, or Cathy from Wuthering Heights searching in vain across the northern moors for Heathcliff. The exhibition focuses on the dresses that caught the imagination and chimed with the zeitgeist. By the tail end of the Swinging 60s the bright and shiny bubble of optimism had burst, and designers found inspiration, and comfort, in nostalgia for times gone by. There was an appetite for escapism and a move back to nature. TV and film hits included Upstairs Downstairs and Far From the Madding Crowd, while fashion fans shopped at Antiquarius on the Kings Road and collected Art Nouveau and Aubrey Beardsley prints. This exhibition encapsulates the vision of the romantic heroine that this iconic designer gave to fashion in the 1960s and 1970s in a selection of 70 dresses from this era. Laura Ashley gave the world the chaste cotton print maxi-dress in earth-hewn natural colours and a notion of life in a golden age - a pastoral idyll far away from the mad city life. Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, until 5th January.
Stanley Spencer: Heaven In A Hell Of War provides a unique opportunity to see the responses to the First World War away from their permanent country home of Sandham Memorial Chapel, while it undergoes restoration. Stanley Spencer painted scenes of his own wartime experiences, as a hospital orderly in Bristol and as a soldier on the Salonika front. His recollections, painted entirely from memory, focus on the domestic rather than combative and evoke everyday experience - washing lockers, inspecting kit, sorting laundry, scrubbing floors and taking tea - in which he found spiritual resonance and sustenance. Peppered with personal and unexpected details, they combine the realism of everyday life with dreamlike visions drawn from his imagination. In his own words, the paintings are 'a symphony of rashers of bacon' with 'tea-making obligato' and describe the banal daily life that, to those from the battlefield, represented a 'heaven in a hell of war'. For Spencer, the menial became the miraculous - a form of reconciliation. These large scale paintings, which took 6 years to create, were completed in 1932. As well as being one of Britain's most important war artists, Spencer was a key figure in the development of figurative art in 20th century Britain and this exhibition offers a chance to look up close at his accomplished paintwork, sensitive use of colour, and masterly still-life. Somerset House, Strand, London WC2, until 26th January.
Elizabeth I & Her People explores the achievements of the Elizabethan period through portraits of the queen, nobility and rising middle classes. The exhibition includes not only some of the most important and visually impressive portraits of Elizabeth I and her courtiers, but also intriguing lesser-known images of Elizabethan merchants, lawyers, goldsmiths, butchers, calligraphers, playwrights and artists, all of whom contributed to the making of a nation and a new world power. The display comprises over 100 exhibits, including not only paintings, but costumes, crafts, coins, jewellery, manuscripts and accessories ranging from diamond and ruby rings to a frog-shaped purse. The reign of Queen Elizabeth I, which spanned over 40 years, was a time of economic stability, with outstanding successes in the fields of maritime exploration and defence. The period also saw a huge expansion in trade, the creation of new industries, a rise in social mobility, urbanisation and the development of an extraordinary literary culture. The display shows how members of a growing wealthy middle class sought to have their likenesses captured for posterity as the mid-16th century interest in portraiture broadened. Portraits of courtiers such as William Cecil, Christopher Hatton, Bess of Hardwick and Elizabeth Vernon are joined by explorers such as Francis Drake and Martin Frobisher, ambassadors such as Abd el-Quahed ben Messaoud, financiers such as Thomas Gresham and poets including John Donne. The exhibition tells the stories of those individuals whose achievements brought about these changes in the context of an emerging national identity, as well as giving a glimpse into their way of life through accessories and artefacts. It also shows how this was a period in which appearance was made more self-conscious, with calls for the enforcement of sumptuary laws that attempted to determine what was appropriate to be worn by people of different stations. National Portrait Gallery until 5th January.
A Highland Romance explores how ideas of Scotland and Scottishness have changed over the last two centuries. The exhibition asks if Victorian stereotypes of Scotland - desolate snowscapes, dramatic stag hunts, castle ruins, tartan cloth and highland cattle - are enduring, and if they were ever a fair representation of the nation. 19th century paintings and works on paper by leading Scottish artists, such as such as Joseph Farquharson and John MacWhirter, are on show alongside depictions of Scotland by artists from England, including John Everett Millais and Edwin Landseer. Dating from about 1830 to 1904, highlights include 'A Spate in the Highlands' by Peter Graham, 'Linlithgow Palace' by JMW Turner, 'Portrait of Sir Alexander Keith' by David Wilkie, 'The Chase' by Richard Ansdell, 'Arran (Across Kilbrannen Sound)' by Henry Moore, 'The Sun Had Closed the Winter Day' by Joseph Farquharson, 'Craigmillar Castle' by the Reverend John Thomson of Duddingston, and 'Sir Piercie Shafton and Mysie Happer' by Henry Liverseege, depicting a scene from a novel by Sir Walter Scott, plus a rare printed textile based on a David Wilkie painting. In addition, there are the contemporary works 'Some Like it Hot' by David Mach's and 'In Revolution Politics Becomes Nature' by Ian Hamilton Finlay. The exhibition examines how ideas of Scottishness have changed (or not), what it means to be Scottish, and what Scotland means to the United Kingdom as a nation. Manchester Art Gallery until September.
Paul Klee: Making Visible features the work of one of the most renowned artists to work at the Bauhaus, who was both a playful and a radical figure in European Modernism. This exhibition of Paul Klee's intense and intricate work challenges his reputation as a solitary dreamer, revealing the innovation and rigour with which he created his work and presented it to the public. Bringing together over 130 colourful drawings, watercolours and paintings it spans the three decades of Klee's career, from his emergence in Munich in the 1910s, through his years of teaching at the Bauhaus in the 1920s, up to his final paintings made in Bern. The exhibition begins with Klee's breakthrough during the First World War, when he first developed his individual abstract patchworks of colour. The many technical innovations that followed are showcased throughout the exhibition, including his unique 'oil transfer' paintings like 'They're Biting', the dynamic colour gradations of 'Suspended Fruit' and the multicoloured pointillism used in 'Memory of a Bird'. The heart of the exhibition focuses on the decade Klee spent teaching and working at the Bauhaus. The abstract canvases he produced here, such as the rhythmical composition 'Fire in the Evening', took his reputation to new international heights by the end of the 1920s. The 1930s then brought about radical changes, as Klee was dismissed from his new teaching position by the Nazis and took refuge in Switzerland, while his works were removed from collections and labelled 'degenerate art' in Germany. Despite the political turmoil, financial insecurity and his declining health, he nevertheless became even more prolific, and the exhibition brings together a group of his final works from the last exhibition. Although he saw his art as a process of spontaneous creativity and natural growth, exemplified by his famous description of drawing as "taking a line for a walk", Klee actually worked with great rigour. Tate Modern until 9th March.
Victoriana: The Art Of Revival offers a major examination of Victorian revivalism in all its forms. Featuring graphic design, film, photography, ceramics, taxidermy, furniture, textiles and fine art, this multi-media show explores work inspired by the 19th century and created over the last 20 years, highlighting the ongoing influence of the Victorian age. From the macabre to the quaint, the sensational to the surreal, the exhibition brings together 28 major contemporary artists who encapsulate the many forms and motivations of modern takes on Victorian style. Highlights of the weird and wonderful inventions and interventions include Rob Ryan's take on a pair of ceramic Staffordshire dogs 'I Remember, Nobody Remembers'; Jane Hoodless's part eaten wedding cake 'Shorn Out of Wedlock'; Miss Pokeno's combination of armchair and taxidermy 'Trophy Chair'; Carole Windham's ceramic couple 'Dearly Beloved'; Timorous Beasties's 'Devil Damask Flock Wallpaper'; Patrick StPaul's collection of strange things in glass jars 'Whisper in the Midst of Silence'; and Yumiko Utsu's altered painting 'Octopus Portrait': plus works by Yinka Shonibare, Grayson Perry, Paula Rego, Dan Hillier, Paul St George, Kitty Valentine and Jake and Dinos Chapman. Guildhall Art Gallery, London, until 8th December.
Australia is the most significant survey of Australian art ever mounted in Britain. Focusing on the influence of the landscape, the exhibition spans from 1800 to the present day, and features 146 artists with over 200 works, including paintings, drawings, photography, watercolours and multimedia. The story of Australian art is inextricably linked to its landscape: an ancient land of dramatic beauty, a source of production, enjoyment, relaxation and inspiration, yet seemingly loaded with mystery and danger. For Australian artists, this deep connection with the landscape has provided a rich seam of inspiration for centuries. The exhibition maps the period of rapid and intense change, from the impact of the first settlers and colonisation on the indigenous people to the pioneering nation-building of the 19th century, through to the enterprising urbanisation of the last century. Reflecting the vastness of the land and the diversity of its people, early, as well as contemporary Aboriginal art sits alongside the work of the first colonial settlers, immigrant artists of the 20th century and the work of some of today's most established Australian artists. Highlights include Frederick McCubbin's 'The Pioneer'; four paintings from Sidney Nolan's 'Ned Kelly' series; Eugene von Guerard's 'Bush Fire'; Rover Thomas's 'Cyclone Tracy'; Emily Kame Kngwarreye's 'Big Yam Dreaming'; Grace Cossington Smith's 'The Bridge in Building'; Charles Meere's 'Australian Beach Pattern'; and Shaun Gladwell's video 'Approach to Mundi Mundi'; plus 'Fire and Water', a newly commissioned work by Judy Watson that aims to evoke a sense of the distinctiveness of the Australian landscape whilst considering the art historical developments and contributions of Australian art across the last two centuries. Royal Academy of Arts until 8th December.
Michael Landy: Saints Alive is an exhibition of kinetic sculpture inspired by Renaissance paintings of saints. Michael Landy's imagination has been captured by images of saints, the colourful and detailed portrayal of their lives, their attributes, and stories of their single-mindedness and strength. Towering over visitors, the seven large scale sculptures swivel and turn, in movements that evoke the drama of each saint's life. The saints Apollonia, Catherine, Francis, Jerome and Thomas, plus an additional figure that takes a number of saints as its inspiration, stand alongside collages on paper that show the creative process on which Landy embarked to arrive at the kinetic sculptures. The works are cast in fibreglass, painted and assembled with the addition of metal cogs, wheels, defunct fan belts and motors, accumulated from junkyards, car boot sales and flea markets. The result looks like a mixture of Victorian automata and Heath Robinson. Landy has reworked the two dimensional images into three dimensional pieces, creating elements hidden from view in the original paintings, such as a saint's back or the fullness of folds of drapery. Keen to encourage interaction with the works, Landy has devised foot pedal mechanisms that allow visitors to crank them to life. Among the paintings that inspired the sculptures are Carlo Crivelli's 'Saint Jerome', Lucas Cranach the Elder's 'Saints Genevieve and Apollonia', Sassetta's 'The Stigmatisation of Saint Francis', Cosimo Tura's 'Saint Jerome' and Pintoricchio's 'Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Donor', which features a 3m diameter wheel that visitors can spin to reveal episodes of the saint's life as they pass among the sculptures, and view a collage created with fragments of wheel images reproduced from paintings. National Gallery until 24th November.