News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st January 2009


Ancient Egyptian Gallery is a new gallery, centered round the wall paintings of a spectacular tomb-chapel. The paintings are some of the most famous images of Egyptian art, and come from the now lost tomb-chapel of Nebamun, an accountant in the Temple of Amun at Karnak, who died a generation or so before Tutankhamun. They show him at work and at leisure, surveying his estates and hunting in the marshes. An extensive conservation project has been undertaken on the 11 large fragments, which are now on public display for the first time in nearly 10 years. They are displayed together for the first time in a setting designed to recreate their original aesthetic impact, and to evoke their original position in a small intimate tomb-chapel. Drawing on the latest research and fieldwork at Luxor, a computer 'walk-through' of the reconstructed tomb-chapel is available in gallery. Next to the paintings, 150 artefacts show how the tomb-chapel was built, how it remained open for visitors, and also the nature of Egyptian society at the time. Most of the objects are contemporary with Nebamun and reflect those depicted in his paintings. Some, however, contrast with the idealised world view that is shown on elite monuments like the tomb-chapel, and reveal that most people's experience of life was not all about leisure and prestige as in the paintings. Thus spectacularly luxurious objects, such as a glass perfume bottle in the shape of a fish, are juxtaposed with crude tools of basic survival, such as a fishing net. British Museum, continuing.

Whistler: The Gentle Art Of Making Etchings showcases a research project, currently underway at the University of Glasgow's Department of Art History, in collaboration with the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Art Institute of Chicago. James McNeill Whistler's wide ranging output included some of the most beautiful and influential etchings of the late 19th century. The project explores Whistler's innovative creative processes, from unmarked copper plate to finished print, providing an illuminating picture of the working artist and his distinctive technique. The choice of subject, composition and materials, in addition to the exhibition, publication and marketing of the etchings, is also examined. Whistler's full output is represented, from the earliest etchings to the impressive late Amsterdam views, together with working tools, copper plates, and rare archival material. The history, context and subjects of Whistler's etchings repay close examination. His titles provide clues as to the subject, but these were often clearer to a Victorian connoisseur than to 21st century viewers. The project's research team has carefully studied each etching, identifying models and sites, history and fashion, and the symbols and stories that underlie the compositions. Whistler did not always date his copper plates, but the form of his butterfly signature helps to date the printing of particular impressions. Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, until 30th May.

Unique Forms - The Drawing And Sculpture Of Umberto Boccioni features work by perhaps the most significant of the five artists associated with the first wave of Futurist painting in Italy. Equally articulate with verbal and visual imagery, Boccioni became the foremost theorist of Futurist aesthetics, which he expounded with tremendous energy and rigour in his tract 'Futurist Painting and Sculpture'. Like all Futurists, Boccioni was fascinated with speed and movement, but he expressed this particularly through the muscular energy of the human body and galloping horses. Comprising some 20 works, the exhibition includes a number of different drawings entitled 'Dynamism of a Human Body', and other works on paper such as 'Figure in Movement', 'Speeding Muscles', 'Study for Empty and Full Abstracts of a Head', and 'Study for the City Rises', plus the sculptures 'Development of a Bottle in Space' and 'Unique Forms of Continuity in Space', his acknowledged masterpiece, together with photographs of other lost sculptures.

Luca Buvoli - Velocity Zero is an installation by the contemporary artist Luca Buvoli, exploring the themes that fascinated the Futurists, and the gulf between the ideals that the movement's members espoused, and the reality of their application. At its heart, sections of the Futurist manifesto are read out loud by people with speech difficulties - the halting speech of the readers contrasting with the values of speed and efficiency espoused by the Futurists.

Estorick Collection, London N1, until 19th April.


High Art: Reynolds And History Painting 1780 - 1815 examines the period when History painting was regarded as the pinnacle of High Art, and was strongly promoted by Sir Joshua Reynolds above other genres, such as portraiture, landscape and still life. This exhibition includes historical and biblical subjects by Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley, John Francis Rigaud, and Henry Fuseli. Seminal self portraits by Reynolds and West allude to the knowledge and learning required to pursue history painting, with casts of antique statues, a bust of Michelangelo and books on history included as props to enhance the image of the artist. Similarly, Henry Singleton's 'The Royal Academicians in General Assembly' depicts the Academicians in their grand rooms at Somerset House, surrounded by antique casts and some of the paintings included in this display.

High Life: Celebrating The Loan Of W P Frith's 'Private View at the Royal Academy 1881', which was Frith's last major panoramic painting, shows the Victorian elite seeing and being seen at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 1881. Frith includes a host of notable figures from Oscar Wilde and Lily Langtry to the Prime Minister, William Gladstone, and from the actress Ellen Terry to the illustrator John Tenniel. Hung alongside this picture are subject paintings by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Briton Riviere, a portrait of Lord Leighton by G F Watts, and H H Armstead's marble relief of 'The Ever Reigning Queen', which was first seen by the public in the exhibition that Frith depicts.

Royal Academy of Arts until 29th November.

Lee Miller And Friends features the work of the legendary beauty and fashion model, who became an acclaimed photographer, first of fashion, and then on the battlefield. Miller's relationships with Surrealist artist and photographer Man Ray, and painter and collector Roland Penrose, placed her at the heart of 20th century artistic and literary circles, and in a career spanning more than three decades, she came into contact with an astonishing range of people. Many of these became her friends and were the subjects of her penetrating portraits, including Max Ernst, Jean Cocteau, Colette, Fred Astaire and Marlene Dietrich. This exhibition places Miller's images alongside original pieces by her artist friends, including Eileen Agar, Leonora Carrington, Joan Miro, Eduardo Paolozzi, Paul Eluard and Pablo Picasso, given to Miller in exchange for her photographs. Among the more unlikely images are a photograph of Picasso standing in front of an English village signpost, alongside his drawing of a lithograph of flying bullets made the same day in the visitor's book of Lee's home, Farley Farm; a shadow portrait of Eileen Agar appearing 'pregnant with a camera' against the Brighton Pavilion; and a picture of Miller in Hitler's bathtub, taken in his apartment in Munich. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester until 29th March.

Top To Toe: Fashion For Kids explores the history of children's fashion, reliving iconic and defining moments from the past 300 years of children's clothing. The exhibition profiles the changing attitudes, themes and fads, from evocative brands like Ladybird and Clothkits to knitted swimsuits, leg warmers and ponchos. It comprises over 100 items, embracing vintage garments, photographs, paintings, advertisements and rare objects, revealing that while materials, styles, colours and shapes developed, some classic garments have remained unchanged, or have been revived due to the practicality of their design. Highlights include a silk and metal thread 18th century toddler's 'pudding hat'; a boy's red woolen dress from 1850; a 19th century muff and hat made of peacock feathers; a girl's printed silk dress with velvet, ribbon, machine lace trim from 1855; a boy's Harrods suit from the 1920s; and the changing face of character merchandising, from a costume based on the illustrations in the Victorian novel Little Lord Fauntleroy, to 1930s child film star Shirley Temple's clothing range. In addition, there is an examination of myths and questions, such as why boys are associated with blue and girls with pink; whether children were always dressed in mini versions of adult clothes; and the contrasting influences of contemporary celebrity and popular culture with the past, when Royal children were the role models. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, until 19th April.

G F Watts: Victorian Visionary - Highlights From The Watts Gallery Collection is a retrospective exhibition of one of Britain's greatest and most original artists, made possible by the closure of Watts Gallery in Surrey for a restoration and development project. The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to examine the output of the artist whose life spanned the Victorian age, but whose art prefigures so many of the concerns of the 20th century. It comprises over 80 paintings, drawings and sculptures, and explores all facets of Watts's artistic output, from allegorical work to portraits, landscapes and engagement with social issues. Highlights include 'Lady Holland'; 'Found Drowned' and 'Irish Famine', radical social paintings of the late 1840s; the grand allegorical paintings 'Progress' and 'Hope' - a bent and vulnerable figure seated on a globe playing a lyre with all but one string broken, a powerful icon of Victorian faith and doubt; and one of his last works, 'The Sower of the Systems', hinting at the abstraction of modern painting that would follow. Guildhall Art Gallery, London, until 26th April.

G F Watts: Parables In Paint explores the religious and spiritual dimension of Watts's art, and the way that this underpins his sense of social responsibility. The exhibition consists of 30 oil paintings and drawings, also from the collection of the Watts Gallery. In addition, the Cathedral is showing 'Time, Death and Judgement' and 'Peace and Goodwill', together in the nave for the first time in decades.St Paul's Cathedral until 30th July.

I Turned It Into A Palace: Sir Sydney Cockerell And The Fitzwilliam Museum shows how the museum was transformed between 1908 and 1937, under the directorship of Sydney Cockerell, by bringing together some of his most famous acquisitions. Cockerell ended the previously indiscriminate approach to style, quality and period in the choice of acquisitions, and revolutionised the display of art in Britain. Among the items in this treasure trove are Titian's 'Tarquin and Lucretia'; some of the finest ancient Greek vases in Britain; works by William Blake and Samuel Palmer; William Morris's Kelmscott Press books, Keats's autograph manuscript of Ode to a Nightingale; Pre-Raphaelite works, including Dante Gabriel Rosetti's unfinished 'Joan of Arc' found by his deathbed; prints by Durer; drawings by Botticelli, Ruebens and Turner; extracts from the Egyptian papyrus of the Book of the Dead of Ramose; and original scores by Mozart and Scarlattil. The exhibition also marks the centenary of the Friends Society, the first of its kind in Britain, which Cockerell founded to support the museum. The Macclesfield Psalter, the 14th century illuminated manuscript, recent acquired following a successful fundraising campaign, is also on display. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 17th March.

From Kabul To Kandahar 1833-1933 reveals the unique and largely undocumented history of Afghanistan, and the British presence there, through rare documentary materials. The exhibition covers the period of the three Anglo-Afghan wars, putting this troubled country's current events in a historical context. Afghanistan is brought to life by the photographs, prints and journals of three men - Ernest Thornton, John Alfred Gray and James Atkinson - who spent time in Afghanistan, as either military personnel or within the expat community, together with photographs and diaries of 19th century British travellers. All together these tell how repeated attempts to invade this fiercely independent and mountainous region have failed, and describe the authors impressions of the Islamic land. Drawings, maps, photographs and lithographs show ancient religious sites, ornamental gardens, everyday market scenes, women, royalty and warriors, portraying an incredibly rich and diverse landscape, culture and people. Early photographs of Kandahar and Kabul from the 1880s show the ravages of war on Afghanistan's architectural monuments. These include the famous 'Bamiyan buddhas', built in the 6th century, and destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, which are now the focus of an international restoration campaign. Royal Geographical Society, London, until 26th February.


Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990 - 2005 brings together recent well known assignments and rarely seen personal work of one of the world's best known portrait photographers, who has been documenting American popular culture since the early 1970s. With over 150 photographs, the exhibition shows iconic images of famous public figures together with personal photographs of Annie Leibovitz's family and close friends. Arranged chronologically, they project a narrative of her private life against the backdrop of her public image. At the heart of the exhibition, Leibovitz's personal photography documents scenes from her life, including the birth and childhood of her three daughters, and vacations, reunions, and rites of passage with her parents, her extended family and close friends. The show features Leibovitz's portraits of well known figures, including actors such as Jamie Foxx, Daniel Day Lewis, Al Pacino, Nicole Kidman and Brad Pitt as well as artists and architects such as Richard Avedon, Brice Marden, Philip Johnson, Chuck Close and Cindy Sherman. Highlights include dancers Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rob Besserer holding a dance position on a beach, William S Burroughs in Kansas and Agnes Martin in Taos. Featured assignment work includes reportage from the siege of Sarajevo in the early 1990s and the election of Hillary Clinton to the US Senate. There are also landscapes taken in Monument Valley in the American West and in Wadi Rum in the Jordanian desert. National Portrait Gallery until 1st February.

The Intimate Portrait is the first exhibition to examine a relatively unknown aspect of British portraiture from the period between the 1730s and the 1830s. Some of the country's greatest artists produced beautifully worked intimate portraits in pencil, chalks, watercolours and pastels, as well as miniatures on ivory, which were often exhibited, sold and displayed as finished works of art. While oil paintings and sculpture dominated the public art of portraiture, many artists were simultaneously involved in creating more private portraits for domestic consumption and display. Portrait miniatures painted in watercolour on ivory were worn as jewellery or displayed as treasures in cabinets, pastels with their fragile surfaces were protected under glass and hung in frames, while drawings were either hung in family groups or kept in albums or portfolios to be shown to friends and family. The exhibition brings together some 200 works by around 50 artists, including many of the leading figures of the period, such as Allan Ramsay, Thomas Lawrence, David Wilkie, Richard Cosway, John Brown, Archibald Skirving, Francis Cotes, George Dance, Henry Fuseli and John Downman, with self-portrait drawings by the rivals Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. The show examines the themes of self-portraiture, the depiction of artists' families and friends, and the portrayal of the political, social, literary and theatrical celebrities of the day, with sitters including Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Robert Burns, Lady Hamilton, the Duke of Wellington and the young Queen Victoria. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, until 1st February.

Rothko focuses on the late works of Mark Rothko, one of America's most important post war painters, made between 1958 and 1970. Rothko's iconic paintings, composed of luminous, soft-edged rectangles saturated with colour, are among the most enduring and mysterious created by an artist in modern times, glowing deep dark reds, oranges, maroons, browns, blacks and greys. The exhibition comprises around 50 works, comprising paintings and works on paper, the most important of which are 16 Seagram murals. These were commissioned in 1958 for the Four Seasons restaurant in the new Seagram building in New York, but having made the paintings, Rothko decided that it was not a suitable place for them to be seen. The bright and intense colours of his earlier paintings had made way to maroon, dark red and black, and Rothko realised that their brooding character required a very different environment. Though the original commission was for only 7 paintings, Rothko eventually painted 30 canvases in the series. This is the first time in their history that such a large group of these paintings (belonging to a number of galleries around the world) have been seen together. The Seagram murals are shown alongside other landmark series of Rothko's paintings, including major 'Black-Form' paintings, large scale 'Brown on Grey' works on paper, and works from his last series 'Black on Grey'. Tate Modern until 1st February.