Private View held by Richard Andrews
Rembrandt: The Late Works provides a unique opportunity to experience the passion, emotion and innovation of the greatest master of the Dutch Golden Age. Far from diminishing as he aged, Rembrandt's creativity gathered new energy in the closing years of his life. It is the art of these late years - soulful, honest and deeply moving - that indelibly defines the enduring image of Rembrandt the man and the artist. The exhibition of around 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints gives an insight into some of Rembrandt's most iconic works such as 'The Sampling Officials of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild', better known as 'The Syndics', revealing his brilliance in combining light and shadow and colour and texture, to give a radical visual impact to a traditional portrait. Numerous examples of Rembrandt's finest etchings demonstrate his skilful development of printing techniques to achieve unique effects. A highlight of the exhibition is the juxtaposition of a number self portraits including 'Self Portrait as the Apostle Paul', 'Self Portrait with Two Circles', 'Self Portrait Wearing a Turban' and 'Self Portrait at the Age of 63', the latter two, painted in the final years of his life, showing Rembrandt's exceptional honesty in recording his own features as he aged. Other key works on view include: 'The 'Jewish Bride', 'An Old Woman Reading', 'A Man in Armour', 'A Young Woman Sleeping', 'Juno', 'Portrait of a Blond Man', 'The Suicide of Lucretia', 'Bathsheba with King David's Letter', 'Titus at his Desk', 'A Portrait of a Lady with a Lap Dog', 'Lucretia', 'A Woman Bathing in a Stream' and 'Portrait of Frederik Rihel on Horseback'. National Gallery until 18th January.
Silent Partners: Artist & Mannequin From Function To Fetish uncovers a playful, uncanny - and sometimes disturbing - history from the Renaissance to the present day. For centuries, the mannequin, or lay figure, was little more than a studio tool, a piece of equipment as necessary as easel, pigments and brushes. This exhibition reveals the multiple purposes it serves, from fixing perspective and painting reflections, to being a support for drapery and costume, and shows how it gradually moved centre stage to become the subject of the painting, photograph or film, eventually becoming a work of art in its own right. The exhibition features over 180 paintings, drawings, books and photographs, as well as fashion dolls, trade catalogues, extraordinary patent documents and videos. These include paintings and drawings by Cezanne, Poussin, Gainsborough, Millais, Ford Madox Brown and Degas, as well as photographs by and of Surrealist artists such as Man Ray, Hans Bellmer and Salvador Dali, and works by Jake and Dinos Chapman showing that today artists continue to be drawn to the creative potential unleashed by artificial Others. Nevertheless, among the most striking and fascinating exhibits are the mannequins themselves: from beautifully carved 16th century small-scale figurines to haunting wooden effigies, painted dolls of full human height and top-of-the range 'stuffed Parisian' lay figures that were sought after by artists throughout Europe. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 25th January.
Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived And Will Never Die delves into the mind of the world's most famous fictional detective. Asking who is Sherlock Holmes, and why does he still conjure up such enduring fascination, the exhibition explores how Arthur Conan Doyle's creation has transcended literature onto stage and screen, and continues to attract huge audiences. It places the character under the microscope to dissect the traits that define him and illuminate his world, including his intimate association with London. Going beyond film and fiction the display looks at the real Victorian London, the backdrop for many of Conan Doyle's stories. Through early film, photography, paintings and original artefacts, the exhibition recreates the atmosphere of Sherlock's London and the places that the detective visited. The evolution of Holmes and his portrayal in popular culture on stage and screen is considered, including the performances of William Gillette, Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett, with each actor offering clues to why Holmes has endured, reinvented for generation after generation. Highlights include a portrait of Arthur Conan Doyle painted by Sidney Paget in 1897, which has never been on public display in Britain before; original hand written pages from Edgar Allan Poe's manuscript of The Murders In The Rue Morgue, part of Conan Doyle's influences for Holmes; the first copies of The Strand magazine in which the stories appeared, together with original illustrations by Sidney Paget; the original manuscript of The Adventure Of The Empty House; and the iconic Belstaff coat and the Derek Rose camel dressing gown worn by Benedict Cumberbatch in the current Sherlock television series. Museum of London until 12th April.
Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963 - 2010 is a retrospective of the work of one of the most experimental artists in the latter part of the 20th century. The exhibition is the first to fully encompass the enormously varied range of materials with which Sigmar Polke worked. Polke explored ideas of contamination and transformation, working with antiquated and sometimes poisonous pigments, extracting dye from boiled snails, and using materials as varied as gold leaf, meteorite powder, bubble wrap, potatoes and soot. Photographs were made by exposing the paper to uranium, while paintings were created by brushing photosensitive chemicals onto canvas. The exhibition includes several films where Polke played with double-exposure, just as paintings would have layers of transparent imagery. In the 1960s, while still a student, he created sharp critiques of the growing consumer society of West Germany, transcribing by hand the cheaply printed images he found in mass media to create such works as 'Girlfriends'. Political and social commentary was a constant thread throughout Polke's work, from 'The Sausage Eater' to 'Police Pig'. His irreverent attitude and ironic humour was a product of the cynicism with which he viewed all forms of authority, and he often confronted the remnants of National Socialism in his imagery, for instance in his haunting series of 'Watch Towers' from the mid 1980s, which evoke the structures on the perimeters of concentration camps. Polke became even more experimental towards the end of his career, pushing the boundaries between different media. The exhibition shows how he used photocopiers to make new distorted compositions, while the 'Lens Paintings' attempt to emulate holograms in their use of semi-transparent layers of materials. Tate Modern until 8th February.
Ordinary Beauty: The Photography Of Edwin Smith is a retrospective of one of Britain's foremost 20th century photographers. Edwin Smith captured the essence of the everyday in the people, places, landscapes and buildings that he photographed. His images connote a particular kind of Britishness, one which is eccentric and often nostalgic, and his work was, in part, a plea on behalf of Britain's architectural heritage. This exhibition features over 100 images from his collection of over 60,000 negatives and 20,000 prints, from the 1930s to the 1960s. Smith was highly sought-after by publishers, and in the 1950s he was commissioned by Thames & Hudson for a series of books, among them 'English Parish Churches', 'English Cottages & Farmhouses', 'Scotland', 'England' and 'The Living City: A New View of the City of London'. His work also featured in Vogue, Shell Guides and numerous other publications to illustrate features and books on subjects varying from 'Great Houses of Europe' to 'The Wonders of Italy'. From urban scenes documenting British social history to evocative landscape images and atmospheric interiors, the images displayed reveal the genius and breadth of his work. Alongside his images of Britain the exhibition shows photographs taken on his travels to Europe as well as his published books and photographic equipment. Specially filmed contributions ranging from Alan Bennett to broadcaster Gillian Darley offer personal perspectives of Smith's work. RIBA Architecture Gallery, 66 Portland Place, London W1.
Designing The 20th Century: Life And Work Of Abram Games celebrates the work of one of the most important and influential figures of 20th century graphic design. The exhibition of over 100 original posters, paintings, preparatory sketches, archive objects and photographs explores Abram Games's immigrant roots, his Jewish background and his enormous contribution to British design. Games started his career as a freelance artist, producing posters for clients such as London Transport, before becoming an official war poster artist during the Second World War, when he designed 100 posters. His iconic works for campaigns such as ATS recruitment and wartime safety used simple and often stark images and clear typography to convey strong messages, and to create images that remain powerful today. Games's post-war career was hugely successful, designing posters and emblems for an array of important British institutions such as the BBC, commercial companies including the Financial Times, Shell and Guinness, charities, the Olympic Games, the United Nations and the logo for the Festival of Britain. As well as graphics, Games also worked in industrial design, including a coffee maker and a copying machine for the manufacturers Gestetner. Jewish Museum, Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert St, London NW1, until 4th January.
Terror And Wonder: The Gothic Imagination offers a glimpse of the fascinating and mysterious world of the terrifying and the macabre. Marking 250 years since Horace Walpole's 'The Castle of Otranto' caused a sensation and inspired the new genre, the exhibition celebrates the many literary masterpieces produced in Britain ever since, as well as modern interpretations of the Gothic in popular culture today. Rare objects including posters, books, film and even a vampire-slaying kit, reveal the dark shadow the Gothic imagination has cast across film, art, music, fashion, architecture and our daily lives. The exhibition features the original manuscripts and rare and personal editions of such iconic Gothic works as Bram Stoker's 'Dracula', Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' and Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde', as well as the work of contemporary writers influenced by the genre, including Angela Carter, Mervyn Peake, Clive Barker and Sarah Waters. Highlights also include the dark and Gothic-inspired artworks of influential painters, including Henry Fuseli, William Blake and Philip James de Loutherbourg, contrasted against modern art and photography, costumes and movies, from the Chapman Brothers to Stanley Kubrick. Tracing Gothic fiction's journey, the exhibition explores how this literature has been an important reflection of society's attitudes, angst and fears. From the dark days of the French Revolution, when writers pushed boundaries with shocking novels such as 'The Monk', to the explosion of Gothic in the 20th century and its influence on the art and culture we enjoy today, the display questions the continuing fascination with the dark and the monstrous. The British Library until 20th January.
Sense And Sensuality: Art Nouveau 1890 - 1914 explores the drama and spectacle of contemporary life at the turn of the 20th century. The show embraces the at times risque sensuality of Art Nouveau, featuring a wide range of works from sculpture, graphics and books, to ceramics, glass and furniture. Early examples include Felix Vallotton's original poster 'L'Art Nouveau', the first public presentation of the name; and Aubrey Vincent Beardsley's 'Salome' prints, which many believe to be the first true works in the style. Masterpieces by Alphonse Mucha, Maurice Bouval, Theophile Alexandre Steinlen, Francois- Raoul Larche, Paul Francois Berthoud, Jean-Joseph Carries and others, make this an exceptional display of fin de siecle art and design. The period 1890 to 1914, which saw the rise and fall of Art Nouveau, has often been depicted as an age that represented the end of many things, but it was also an age of beginnings. It was a turbulent time: millions of people migrated to rapidly growing cities, becoming urban dwellers in a modernised environment. This exhibition explores this intense emotional maelstrom, focusing on personal and sexual liberation, women and the rise of feminism, youth revolution, the questioning of organised religion, eroticism and an exploration of mythology, novel art forms, psychology and dreams, narcotics and the concept of mass manufactured art. Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts, Norwich, until 14th December.
Anselm Kiefer is the first major British retrospective of the work of one of the most important German artists of the latter part of the 20th century. The exhibition presents the epic scale of Anselm Kiefer's artwork and the breadth of media he has used throughout his 40 year career, including painting, sculpture, photography and installation. Kiefer has created a number of pieces specifically for this exhibition, showcasing his continued interest in seeking new challenges and producing ever more ambitious works. Kiefer's fascination with history and the work of past masters permeates his subject matter. From mythology to the Old and New testaments, Kabbalah, alchemy, philosophy and the poetry of Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann, Kiefer's work wrestles with the darkness of German history and considers the complex relationship between art and spirituality. His technical use of materials such as clay, ash, earth, lead, fabric and dried flowers amongst others, adds further symbolism and depth to his work. Highlights include photographs and paintings from the controversial 'Occupations' and 'Heroic Symbols' series recording Kiefer's re-enactment of the Nazi salute in locations across Europe, made in the belief that one must confront rather than supress the experiences of history; paintings from his 'Attic' series including 'Father, Son and the Holy Ghost' and 'Notung', depicting renderings of wooden interior spaces based on the studio space he was occupying in Walldurn-Hornbach; and monumental architectural paintings, such as 'To the Unknown Painter', reflecting on the neo-classicist buildings of Hitler's architect Albert Speer. The exhibition considers the key themes and the diverse, personal iconography that Kiefer has created in his work and the influence of place on his pieces. Royal Academy until 14th December.
Discovering Tutankhamun tells the story of one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter's excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 made the name of the 'boy king' synonymous with the glories of ancient Egypt, and the spectacular contents of his tomb continue to enthral the public and scholars alike. Howard Carter's hunt for the lost tomb, and the thrill of its discovery, is told through Carter's original records, drawings and photographs, while the phenomenon of 'Tutmania' is explored through a variety of decorative arts, fashions, magazines, sheet music, posters, advertising and other popular cultural memorabilia. The 10 year long process of recording the remarkable objects buried with the king transformed Tutankhamun into an icon of the modern world. Among the highlights are Howard Carter's handwritten diary in which he records the moment of discovery; the glass plate negatives of the excavation made by photographer Harry Burton; exquisite paintings of jewellery from the tomb made on sheets of ivory; and delicate stone sculptures from the time of Tutankhamun. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 2nd November.
Bridge celebrates the 120th anniversary of the iconic Tower Bridge with an examination of the significance of bridges within London's landscape. The exhibition documents a journey along the river and into the heart of London to explore how bridges influence our visual sense of the city, and provide a source of inspiration for artists and photographers. It comprises contemporary and historical paintings, prints, drawings and etchings, alongside photography, film and maquettes. From Hungerford to Blackfriars, Westminster and Millennium, the display both celebrates these great feats of engineering and architectural works of beauty, and looks at how they allow people to move around and experience the city. In addition, Thomas Heatherwick's ambitious 'Garden Bridge' proposal, playing with the ideas of destination and crossing is featured, along with other debates and issues confronting London and its bridges today. Highlights include Ewan Gibbs's linocut 'London', Christopher Nevinson's pen and ink drawing 'Waterloo Bridge from Blackfriars', Charles Ginner's painting 'London Bridge', Christina Broom's glass negative 'Tower Bridge', James Abbott McNeill Whistler's etching 'Old Westminster Bridge', Giovanni Battista Piranesi's etching 'A view of the intended bridge at Blackfriars, London', Crispin Hughes's colour coupler print 'Hungerford Bridge', and Suki Chan's lightbox 'Film Still'. Museum of London Docklands until 2nd November.
A World To Win - Posters Of Protest And Revolution looks at a century of posters agitating for political change. From the 'Votes for Women' campaigns of the early 20th century, through campus demonstrations in the 1960s, to the recent 'Occupy' movements, political activists around the world have used posters to mobilise, educate and organise. Making or displaying a poster is in itself a means of taking political action, while for many social and political movements posters have represented an important form of cultural output. Themes of protest and political participation have gained a powerful contemporary resonance in the wake of the Arab Spring and the global financial crisis. This display of posters, bills, placards and polemical papers covers a century particularly redolent with protest. The imagery of radicalism goes beyond political party or ideology, and at times, adversaries use the same motifs. For instance, propaganda by the Nazis, the Soviets, and later the Hungarian revolutionaries employ strikingly similar images of hulking labourers smashing up the establishment. A section on 'subvertising' exhibits protesters' doctoring or parodying of corporate logos to administer a good kicking to multinational companiess. This display is a quiet reminder of the power of clever design. Victoria & Albert Museum until 2nd November.