Private View held by Richard Andrews
Quilts 1700 - 2010 explores 300 years of British quilt making in the first major exhibition of its kind in this country. It comprises more than 65 quilts from a cot cover made in the 1690s to recent examples by leading contemporary artists including Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry, as well as special commissions by Sue Stockwell, Caren Garfen and Jo Budd. The extraordinary variety of quilts range from the highly decorative and opulent, such as the Bishop's Court Quilt, once believed to have been created by a Duke for a visit from King Charles II in 1670, to modest homemade bed covers, all testifying to the creativity and imagination of the makers. Where appropriate the quilts are displayed on bed mounts as they were originally designed to be seen, including a unique set of 1730 patchwork bed hangings. Highlights include a silk and ribbon cot quilt from Deal Castle, with portraits of the children who slept beneath it and the maker's diary written in code, revealing political intrigue and family life in the 18th century; a cotton coverlet depicting George III Reviewing the Troops, where the maker, an unknown young woman, has inserted her portrait into several of the military scenes; the 1829 Elisabeth Chapman coverlet, commemorating Wellington's Victory at Vittoria, once believed to be a marriage token, but now revealed to be an epitaph connected to a macabre Georgian tale; and the Rajah quilt, made in 1841 by women convicts aboard the HMS Rajah as they were being transported to Van Dieman's Land. There are also prints and paintings, including one by Hogarth, as well as additional contextual material such as personal diaries and keepsakes relating to the quilts and their makers. Victoria & Albert Museum until 4th July.
Francis Bacon: In Camera explores the works of one of Britain's most important 20th century artists from the perspective of his working processes. The exhibition features significant oil paintings by Francis Bacon from 1944 to1989, including 5 works never seen in Britain before, alongside the artefacts and images that inspired them, including archival material from his studio, photography and film stills. Bacon always asserted that his paintings appeared as if by magic, but close examination of visual imagery from his studio shows that Bacon followed a complex and idiosyncratic form of preparation, based largely on film and photography. What is revealed are photographs, often twisted and torn, and papers ripped and folded, in a process that in many ways becomes a method of preparatory drawing. Bacon colluded in the myth of his own spontaneity, yet sheets from a notebook found at his studio show careful planning - akin to laundry lists - of exactly what he planned to paint on a particular day. For all Bacon's legacy of portraits, he only ever painted four sitters from life, and their experiences reinforce the hidden side of the artist's approach. When Lucian Freud arrived at Bacon's studio to sit for a portrait he discovered the painting virtually finished (based on a photograph of Franz Kafka). In 1949, Bacon's fusion of a Velazquez portrait with stills from the Odessa Steps sequence in Eisenstein's iconic film Battleship Potemkin was crucial to his developing agenda to make figurative art 'modern'. The exhibition explores the influence of films by directors such as Bunuel and Resnais, together with photographs by Muybridge and John Deakin, which informed Bacon's reconfigurations of the human body. Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 20th June.
Relics Of Old London: Photography And The Spirit Of The City offers an insight into photography's historic, and ongoing, role in documenting the texture of the urban environment. Prompted by the imminent demolition of the Oxford Arms, a galleried inn near St Paul's, to make way for the expansion of the Old Bailey in 1875, the Society for the Photographing of Relics of Old London was established. The society decided to use photography as a means of documenting buildings that represented old London that were threatened with destruction, and publishing the results in an annual report. To accompany it, from 1881 onwards, a descriptive text was added, providing a historical background to each of the buildings. This exhibition presents a selection of these photographs from the 1870s and 1880s taken by A & J Bool, and later, Henry Dixon & Son, which capture some of the buildings and streets that were the legacies of earlier centuries, with many showing examples of Tudor or Stuart architecture. In the mid 19th century, these were periods which were often considered to be the most romantic in English history. Both photographers created views within the picturesque aesthetic that was to remain popular with British photography well into the 20th century. As suggested by their name, the Society for Photographing Relics of Old London's principal concern was with the disappearance of an older pre-industrial London. By including buildings of a more domestic scale, the Society showed that urban vernacular architecture was both of historic interest and architectural merit, equally, if not more, at risk than grander public buildings. Royal Academy of Arts until 22nd June.
Leighton House Museum has reopened following a £1.6m restoration and refurbishment programme. One of the most remarkable buildings of the 19th century, the house was the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton. Built to designs by George Aitchison, it was extended and embellished over a period of 30 years to create a private palace of art. The Arab Hall is a two storey internal courtyard designed to display Leighton's priceless collection of over a thousand Islamic tiles, mostly brought back from Syria, Turkey and Persia, in which is set a box-shaped Mashrabiya window transplanted from a building in Cairo, and a mosaic fountain. A golden mosaic frieze encricles the room, elaborate decorative paintwork illuminates the domed ceiling, and coloured marble clads the walls evoking a compelling vision of the Orient. The opulence continues through the other richly decorated interiors, with gilded ceilings and walls lined with peacock blue tiles by the ceramic artist William De Morgan. On the first floor is Leighton's grand painting studio with a great north window, dome and apse, which was also the venue for Leighton's celebrated musical evenings. The house reopens with a special exhibition that reassembles Leighton's collection of paintings, hanging in their original positions for the first time since the collection was dispersed in 1896. The paintings include works by many of Leighton's contemporaries, including Burne-Jones, Millais, Watts and Costa. In addition, there is a film and photographic exhibition on the refurbishment process. Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Road, London, opening exhibition until 12th July.
Underwater brings together artworks created during the past decade inspired by the sea and the underwater world. The exhibition features works by 10 international contemporary artists, from sculpture and paintings to video and soundscapes, with depictions of sublime seascapes, mermaid-like creatures and monsters of the aquatic. Exhibits include videos by Bill Viola, in which two lovers intertwine as they slowly descend into dark waters, Janaina Tschape, where a woman's head rocks from side to side, just beneath the water's surface, and Dorothy Cross, with a woman wafting in sunlit water that teems with jellyfish, her hair billowing with their pulsating forms; drawings by Ellen Gallagher, conjecturing a monstrous creature that has evolved in the far depths, part natural history specimen, part science fiction, and Ed Pien, suggesting a nightmarish underwater realm, in which ghastly creatures do battle; Daniel Gustav Cramer's photographs of the seabed with towering rocks and rising silts; a motorized model submarine by Cut and Scrape lurching about in the clutches of a giant squid, straight from the pages of Jules Verne; tapering metallic sculptures by Klaus Osterwald, suspended as a shoal from the ceiling, emitting the strange chirrupings of fish, as recorded by underwater microphones; Shirley Kaneda's paintings, precise yet free squiggles that are a play on refraction and reflection; and Seunghyun Woo's sculptures of imaginary aquatic flora and fauna, suggesting liquid movement and distortion. Towner Gallery, Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, until 20th June.
Christen Kobke: Danish Master Of Light is the first solo exhibition of paintings by one of the greatest talents of Denmark's Golden Age outside his homeland. This exhibition comprises 48 of Christen Kobke's most beautiful and distinguished works, spanning a variety of genres: landscape, topography, portraiture and his oblique depictions of national monuments informed by an avant-garde sensibility. They present some of the most innovative aspects of his work, including outdoor sketching, his fascination with painterly immediacy and his unique treatment of light and atmosphere. The paintings include scenes from his home town, such as 'The Northern Drawbridge to the Citadel in Copenhagen', 'View of the Citadel Ramparts Towards Langelinie and the Naval Harbour' and 'Cigar Seller at the Northern Exit from the Citadel'; portraits of many of his family and closest friends, such as 'Portrait of the Artist's Mother, Cecilia Margrete, nee Petersen'; detailed representations of fellow artists, such as 'Portrait of the Landscape Painter Frederik Sodring'; of rural scenes, such as 'View from Dosseringen Near the Sortedam Lake Looking Towards Norrebro'; and of Danish national monuments such as 'Frederiksborg Castle, View Near the Montbro Bridge' and 'Roof Ridge of Frederiksborg Castle'. These are possibly the smallest paintings (some less than 12 inches wide), with the longest (and most specific) titles. Denmark's 'Golden Age' has become known as 'the age of Kobke', and his precise and clear-cut manner, sharp focus and pristine light are now synonymous with the image of this time of unsurpassed creative flowering. National Gallery until 13th June.
The Enchanted Palace is a series of installations by contemporary fashion designers based on the stories of the 7 princesses who once lived in Kensington Palace. Designers Vivienne Westwood, William Tempest, Stephen Jones, Boudicca, Aminaka Wilmont and Echo Morgan have created experiences in various areas of the state apartments, culminating in an opportunity of 'meeting the princesses face to face'. Highlights include Queen Victoria's bedroom, the chamber in which she awoke to learn she was queen, which features an avant-garde interpretation by William Tempest of a period dress, including 2,000 origami birds; The Room of Royal Sorrows, the bedchamber of Queen Mary II, Aminaka Wilmont's dramatisation of her travails as she tried in vain a produce an heir, with dozens of antique glass bottles known as "tear catchers", in which tears were put in times of mourning; and Vivienne Westwood's dramatic corseted Dress for a Rebellious Princess, inspired by King George IV's daughter Princess Charlotte, on show in the King's Grand Staircase, amid black veiled candle lanterns and shriveled autumn leaves. The event is an effort to create a unique multi-sensory, magical and, at times, quietly eerie experience, in the middle of the palace's £12m makeover, disguising the industrial evidence of building work that is due to be completed in 2012. Visitors are given an 'enchanted map' with which to embark on a personal tour through the hidden corners of the state apartments in search of the princesses, while actors from WildWorks theatre company provide an interactive element to the experience. Kensington Palace until June 2012.
Photographing Fashion: British Style In The 1960s shows how fashion in Britain in the 1960s ranged from demure dresses and ensembles, by now little remembered ready to wear firms such as Reldan and Nettie Vogues, to dolly bird designs by the new 1960s fashion stars, such as Mary Quant and Jean Muir. The exhibition features a selection of images from the Ernestine Carter Collection of hundreds of black and white photographic prints and original fashion drawings, commissioned by the 'grande dame' of the British newspaper fashion editors, who was Women's, and later Associate, Editor of The Sunday Times from 1955 to 1968. The importance of Ernestine Carter's fashion pages could not be underestimated in the 1960s - as far as young designers were concerned, a piece by her was a hallmark of approval. This display gives a potted history of fashion in Swinging 60s Britain, from former Bond girl Tania Mallet modelling an Empire line evening dress by Sambo for Dollyrockers in 1963, through to Celia Hammond - almost fresh off the Hippy Trail - in her Indian inspired evening dress from only five years later in 1968. Accompanying the photographs are original garments from the period, including a version of the hessian effect pinafore style mini skirt by Mary Quant seen in a photograph from 1965, and menswear by names such as Mr Fish, plus fashions and accessories incorporating the use of new materials and styles, such as oversized sunglasses and paper dresses. Fashion Museum, Assembly Rooms, Bath, until December.
Michelangelo's Dream provides an opportunity to see Michelangelo's masterpiece 'The Dream (Il Sogno)', which has been described as one of the finest of all Renaissance drawings. It was executed when Michelangelo was at the height of his career, and exemplifies his unrivalled skill as a draughtsman, and his extraordinary powers of invention. The exhibition examines this celebrated work in the context of an exceptional group of closely related drawings by Michelangelo, as well as previously unexhibited original letters and poems by the artist, together with other works by his contemporaries. Michelangelo's 'presentation drawings' are a group of highly refined compositions, which the artist gave to his closest friends. These beautiful and complex works transformed drawing into an independent art form, and are amongst Michelangelo's finest creations in any medium. 'The Dream' is likely to have been part of the group of drawings that Michelangelo gave to a young Roman nobleman called Tommaso de'Cavalieri during the first years of their close friendship. This group forms the heart of the exhibition, and includes 'The Punishment of Tityus', 'The Fall of Phaeton', 'A Bacchanal of Children' and 'The Rape of Ganymede', which have not been seen together for over 20 years. The exhibition contains the earliest surviving letter from Michelangelo to Cavalieri, dated 1 January 1533, in which the artist expresses his delight that Cavalieri had agreed to accept the gift of some drawings, which were primarily intended to teach him how to draw. A further highlight is a group of drawings by Michelangelo of Christ's resurrection, which concentrate on the heroic nude figure of the reborn Christ, leaping free of the tomb and the bondage of life on earth, including 'Risen Christ', widely celebrated as one of the most magnificent and potent figures in Michelangelo's art. Courtauld Gallery, London, until 19th May.
Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective celebrates the extraordinary life and work of one of the most powerful American painters of the 20th century, who was a seminal figure in the formation of Abstract Expressionism. The exhibition includes over 150 paintings and drawings from across Arshile Gorky's career, and a handful of rarely seen sculptures. The Armenian born artist arrived in America in 1920, fleeing persecution in his home country, where he adopted the name Arshile Gorky with reference to the Russian writer Maxim Gorky. He studied the Modern European masters in books and galleries, teaching himself art by combining this with art classes, in Boston and New York. Gorky's early still-lives show his reliance upon the examples of Cezanne, Picasso, Miro and others, but his portraits in the 1920s and 1930s, especially the two versions of 'The Artist and His Mother', show how he poured his personal experiences and studies into a highly individual realism. During the 1940s Gorky encountered Surrealists exiled from wartime Europe, and stimulated by their ideas of free flowing, automatic painting, he rapidly developed the style for which he became famous. Seminal works such as 'Waterfall' are evocative, layered, and translucent, with a liquid glowing quality. Other highlights in the exhibition include 'Landscape Table', and paintings from the 'Garden in Sochi' and 'The Betrothal' series. Gorky's characteristic paintings of this final period include biomorphic forms in strong colours, shifting abstract elements and the energetic line that he developed in his drawings. Tate Modern until 3rd May.
Dinosaurs Unleashed is the Britain's largest animatronic, life sized dinosaur experience, with 24 full size dinosaurs in a new outdoor interactive enclosure - in Oxford Street, opposite the Marble Arch Marks & Spencer. It is a Jurassic Park style prehistoric adventure on a truly epic scale, offering the chance to get up close and personal with the largest and most fearsome creatures the Earth has ever seen, walking alongside the giants of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Visitors can meet Stegosaurus, Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, marvel at massive Diplodocus three times the length and double the height of a double-decker bus, come face to face with infamous Tyrannosaurus rex, taller than the tallest giraffe, and tremble at the sight of small but vicious Velociraptors. A prehistoric aquarium using the latest computer graphics brings the prehistoric underwater world to life. Alternatively, visitors can put themselves in the picture in the 'scream' experience or in the 'green screen' theatre The exhibition is entirely based on current scientific thinking, with expert paleontologists ensuring that it is as accurate as possible. As they say: it's the family day out that London's been waiting 65 million years for. Parklife, 455-497 Oxford Street W1, until 3rd May.
Mrs Delany And Her Circle is the first exhibition to survey the entire life and the full range of a significant figure in natural history in Georgian England. Mary Delaney was a pattern of accomplishment and curiosity for her contemporaries, and became a model to subsequent generations. The exhibition brings together art, fashion and science: fields that are now generally conceived as separate realms of cultural practice, but that were intimately connected in the varied circles in which Mrs Delany thrived. The centre pieces of the show of collages, drawings, letters and embroideries, include sections of Delany's court mantua, the court dress magnificently embroidered with naturalistic flowers dramatically displayed against a black satin background, the first time that these surviving sections of fabric have been brought together; and her 'paper mosaic' botanical studies of flowers, collages of coloured papers with watercolour and body colour on black ink background, part of her magnum opus the 'Flora Delanica'.
Promiscuous Assemblage, Friendship & The Order Of Things is an accompanying site-specific installation by artist Jane Wildgoose, which is a celebration of the friendship between Mrs Delany and Margaret Cavendish, second Duchess of Portland. The extravagant cabinet of curiosities evokes the 'Promiscuous Assemblage' described in the catalogue that accompanied the sale of the Duchess's 'Portland Museum', a collection of natural history specimens, fine and decorative arts, and curiosities, at a 38 day auction comprising over 4,000 lots. Wildgoose offers a perspective on the ways in which the natural history collections of the 18th century reflect the interlacing of the manners, taste, friendships and material culture of the people who assembled them.
Sir John Soane Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, until 1st May.