News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd January 2002

Commencing

Paul Klee: The Nature Of Creation is a major exhibition of over 100 paintings, watercolours and drawings by one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century. It examines and illustrates his development as an artist, which in turn shaped European art as a whole. Klee is best known for his vibrant use of colour, which dates from a visit to Tunisia in 1914, an experience that revolutionised his work. His famous definition of drawing was "taking a line for a walk", a comment that underlined the humour he brought to his work. A picture was finished when he "stopped looking at it, and it started looking back". Klee constantly experimented with different styles, subjects, techniques and materials, often using oils, watercolours and graphite in the same picture. Painting on almost anything, including glass, wood, paper, hessian, newsprint, plaster and celluloid, he once even used the duster kept under his chin while playing the violin. Klee's output was prolific, creating over 10,000 works in his 30 year career. Hayward Gallery until 1st April.

Microflat In Sefridges Window is an example of art meeting commerce in a most upfront manner. Microflat is a company that is addressing the problem of providing affordable housing in city centres. It has created a low cost modular flat, not unlike the 'living pods' that science fiction predicted we would be living in by the year 2002, with pullout this and fold down that. Essentially it is a third millennium mobile home which goes nowhere, but can be factory produced, with a very small footprint, and stacked at very high density, to provide realistically priced housing for essential workers. A fully operational example of the design by Stuart Piercy has been installed in the Oxford Street/Orchard Street corner window of Selfridges department store, and it comes complete with two Micronauts living there. This really is what you call an installation, and it offers real 'accessibility' - free of charge and open 24/7. Selfridges, Oxford Street until 2nd February.

Nan Goldin: Devil's Playground is the first British retrospective of one of the world's most individual photographers, and also includes new specially produced work. Goldin is best known for her 'Trash Glamour' photographs that have been described as "one long grunge fashion shoot" and have an Andy Warhol influence. These contemporary Hogarthian images feature people living marginal lifestyles, taken in cosmopolitan centres such as New York, London, Berlin, Tokyo and Paris. Working directly from personal experience, she captures moments that tell stories of friendship, desire, betrayal, loss and self-revelation. Emotionally charged, and shot in intensely saturated hues, these images, edited into narrative sequences, and are often accompanied by a soundtrack. They provide a slice of contemporary history, recounted through the lives of those close to her, and characterised by an unposed and private take on her subjects. Goldin's recent work includes interiors, skies, cityscapes and landscapes, empty of people and possessing an abstract quality, and by contrast, churches and grottoes almost Baroque in feel. Whitechapel Art Gallery until 31st March.

Continuing

Alfa Romeo - Sustaining Beauty celebrates 90 years of art in engineering, telling the story of how car design and styling has evolved from its early 20th century beginnings. This is illustrated with a display 17 of Alfa Romeo's most famous and prestigious cars, worth over £50m, which have been brought in from the company's museum near Milan. These include the 1750 Gran Sport, in which Nuvolari won the 1930 Mille Miglia, the greatest ever open road race, by overtaking the opposition in the dark with his headlights switched off; the 159 Gran Premio, a single seater in which Manuel Fangio won the 1951 Formula 1 championship title; and the 1952 Disco Volante or 'flying saucer', of which only two were ever built - one of the most visionary car designs of all time (an E type Jag and a half) - suitably suspended from the ceiling for maximum impact. There is a chance to win an Alfa 147 1.6 T.Spark Turismo worth £13,175 at the Science Museum web site, which can be found via the link opposite. Science Museum until 30th April.

Followers Of Fashion: Graphic Satires From The Georgian Period proves that the ludicrous excesses of today's catwalks come from a rich heritage. This exhibition of almost 100 hand-coloured etchings and mezzotints from the British Museum, reveals the outrageous world of high fashion as seen through the eyes of late 18th and early 19th century satirical artists such as Thomas Rowlandson, James Gillray and Richard Newton. Trends in fashions: gigantic hats, towering wigs, and huge bustles that made it impossible to sit down (and the women were no better) were extreme in exactly the same way as current creations. The difference is that 200 years ago cartoonists would satirise the follies of following the idiosyncrasies of high fashion, rather than slavishly promoting them as today's glossy fashion magazines do. Gillray lived in Old Bond Street and drew what he saw from his window. The widely held opinion then was that high fashion equalled low morals, as though a desire to follow the fashion in some way lured an individual away from a more wholesome lifestyle. Hmm. Hatton Gallery, University of Newcastle upon Tyne until 10th March.

David Burrows, over the last decade, has carved out a particular niche with his 3D floor collages/installations detritus art, creating narrative situations, which he himself has described as "the dregs of an office party". The impact of his pieces is in great part due to the fact that that the violence of the subjects, such as a mountainside plane crash or an accident involving a pizza delivery boy, is at odds with the pop-art aesthetic of the works themselves. These are meticulously cut from his trademark 'foamtastic' sheet foam rubber. The scene here, in his first solo show in the UK, is a Tarrantinoesque lakeside picnic, where even the colours of the water lilies are violent. Alongside the sculptural installation, Burrows exhibits photographic representations of other fabricated scenes, mixing real objects and synthetic spillages, including the aftermath of a rock concert and a massacre at a McDonalds birthday party. A genuinely unique voice not to be missed. f a projects, London, 020 7928 3228 until 23rd February.

The Archive Of Lost Knowledge is the antidote to the new 'interactive visitor attraction' style museums-lite, which only seem interested in the touch screen, and actual artefacts appear to be frowned upon. Here, Duncan Mountford has constructed a temporary installation of dimly lit corridors, with skeletons in cabinets, and an atmosphere of Victorian gloom and experimentation, which even quotes from H G Wells The Time Machine: "Everything had long since passed out of recognition . . .". Plundering museum vaults for curiosities, Mountford recreates a gothic experience - all very Jeykell and Hyde - giving the past an opportunity to reveal its hidden stories. The Yard Gallery, Nottingham until 17th February.

Treasures Of The British Library is a permanent display of over 200 of the most important items from the collection in three new galleries. It includes documents which made and recorded history, sacred texts from the world's religions, masterpieces of illumination, landmarks of printing, great works of literature and music, and major advances in science and mapmaking. The items on display include: Magna Carta, the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Gutenberg Bible, the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays, the original version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a notebook of Leonardo da Vinci, and the original manuscript of Handel's Messiah. Turning The Pages, an award winning computer interactive programme, allows visitors to examine these documents in detail, turning the pages of a book or unrolling a scroll simply by touching a screen. There is also a selection from the National Sound Archive collections of over two and a half million recordings, which range from drama and music performance, through historic events and interviews, to wildlife. The British Library continuing.

Light Motifs: An Aomori Float And Japanese Kites is a spectacular display of traditional illuminated lanterns and kites as only the Japanese know how to create them. The centrepiece is a Nebuta, one of the giant lantern floats decorated with dramatic scenes, which are paraded through the streets of Aomori in northern Japan during a fire festival each August. It has been specially constructed at the museum by Takashi Kitamura and a team of ten people from Aomori. A Nebuta is a wood and wire structure covered with paper, inside which between 500 and 800 light bulbs are installed. It is then decorated with ink and paint, with melted paraffin wax used to provide a barrier between the colours and to create a translucent effect. The themes illustrated in the floats are taken from historical, religious and folk tales, but also contain visual puns referring to current events. Some 5 to 10 metres high, they have articulated flaps at the top that are lowered to pass under street signs and cables. Anything up to sixty floats form a procession, which is accompanied by musicians and dancers. This exhibition also includes kites of all sizes and shapes, including one so huge that it takes twenty people to launch it. British Museum until 3rd March.

Concluding

Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief is an exhibition of caricatures, cartoons and satires looking at fashionable 18th century life in Bath. Some of the greatest caricaturists of the Georgian period came to the city to create paintings and prints based on their observations of society at play in the Pump Room, Assembly Rooms, and out and about in the streets. People associate Georgian Bath with Jane Austen, taking the Waters, and genteel restrained behaviour, but this is only part of the story, as the city was also a place full of vice, rife with prostitution and gambling. Thousands of visitors came to Bath, never staying for long, and the fluid, ever changing social scene offered opportunities for people to behave as they liked, away from the watchful eye of their families and neighbours. Their immoral and foolish goings on provided a wealth of material for the artists. A wide variety of Bath caricatures, from Thomas Rowlandson's riotous series 'The Comforts Of Bath' to Bunbury's genteel dancers of 'The Long Minuet', plus works by Gillray, Cruikshank and others are displayed here. Victoria Art Gallery, Bath until 6th February.

The Vaughan Bequest Of Turner Watercolours, comprising thirty eight works from throughout JMW Turner's career, makes its annual appearance. When London art collector Henry Vaughan made the bequest in 1900, it was with the stipulation that the watercolours not be subjected to permanent display, since continual exposure to light would result in their fading. Further, he ruled that the collection could only be shown in January, when daylight is at its weakest and least destructive level. Despite the fact that modern technology now enables the light levels to be monitored and controlled at all times, the annual January exhibition has become a tradition, which this year celebrates the centenary of the bequest. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh until 31st January.

Exposed: The Victorian Nude focuses on the contradiction that while Victorian Britain was notorious for its prudery, the nude was nevertheless one of the most conspicuous categories of visual image, from mass-produced photographs to Royal Academy paintings. Representation of the nude figure was one of the most controversial issues of the time. Classical allusion was respectable (being considered artistic) but realism, such as a tinted marble sculpture or a contemporary photographic image was taboo. This exhibition surveys the full range of the Victorian nude, both male and female, in painting, drawing and sculpture, and also in photography, popular illustration and film. It includes works by Etty, Leighton, Millais, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Sargent, Sickert and Gwen John. Tate Britain until 27th January.