News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd January 2008


From Russia: French And Russian Master Paintings 1870 - 1925 provides a unique opportunity to explore the exchange that existed between French and Russian art during a crucial period that was witness to upheaval and revolution. The exhibition is grouped by four themes. The first features works by French and Russian realists, focusing on Russian landscape, contemporary social issues, and scenes from traditional peasant life, by Ilya Repin, Ivan Kramskoy, Isaak Levitan, Valentin Serov and Mikhail Nesterov, together with paintings by French artists Theodore Rousseau, Charles Daubigny, Jean-Francois Millet, Jules Bastien-Lepage and Albert Besnard. The second displays masterpieces from the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections of Ivan Morosov and Sergei Shchukin, including Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, van Gogh, Gauguin and Picasso, and features one of the highlights of the show, Matisse's 'The Dance', which was commissioned by Shchukin. The third is devoted to the theatrical impresario and exhibition maker Sergei Diaghilev, with works by Alexander Benois, Leon Bakst, Boris Kustodiev, Nochiolas Roerich, Alexander Golovin and Valentin Serov. The fourth features Modernism and the cross-currents between Russian and French art: Wasily Kandinsky who combined the imagery of Russian fairy tales and Fauvist colour; Marc Chagall who adapted elements of French Cubism to a distillation of Russian-Jewish folklore; Cubo-Futurist works by artists such as Natalia Goncharova; and Suprematism, the radical, purely abstract style pioneered by Kazimir Malevich. Royal Academy of Arts, 26th January to 18th April.

Joanna Kane: The Somnambulists - Photographic Portraits From Before Photography consists of a haunting series of photographic portraits taken from a famous Edinburgh collection of life and death masks. In the early 19th century it was common to have these masks made - a direct 3D imprint of the face of a person at the time of their death, and sometines in life of 'swoonings' or trances - as part of a romantic fixation with death. Using contemporary digital techniques, Joanna Kane has reached into the past to bring figures from Scottish history to life. Animating her portraits to suggest an illusory sense of the living subject of the cast, Kane magically renders photographic likenesses from before the age of photography. The exhibition poses questions about portraiture, the history and origins of photography, connections between photography and the life or death mask, and the influences of phrenology on art. The images are shown alongside examples of actual life and death masks from the collection of the Edinburgh Phrenological Society. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, until 6th April.

Breaking the Rules - The Printed Face Of The European Avant Garde 1900 - 1937 explores the creative transformation that took place in Europe during the first four decades of the 20th century - a revolution that encompassed visual art, design, photography, literature, theatre, music and architecture. Between 1900 and 1937 the avant garde consisted of a series of overlapping movements, such as Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Dadaism, Constructivism and Surrealism. Because of its very nature, the avant garde was denied traditional modes of communication and exhibition, so participants became adept at finding alternative outlets, publishing their own manifestos, poetry, magazines and books, and creating new genres, such as the artist's book and the photo-book. These frequently employed innovative design and typography, still influential today. Such groups were often synonymous with specific magazines and this period was the last one in which the printed format was the primary mode for communicating information; film and broadcasting were ready to take over. This exhibition focuses on the printed work of avant-garde participants, demonstrating its importance to the various groups, and the way in which printed works helped to disseminate information and ideas internationally. The British Library, until 30th March.


Jean Prouve - The Poetics Of The Technical Object is the first comprehensive overview of the radical, innovative and influential work of the French designer and engineer to be staged in Britain. Prouve worked as both a designer and manufacturer, producing everything from bicycles for the French resistance to folded sheet steel armchairs, and prefabricated housing in the time of post Second World War reconstruction. He was a pioneering architect who invented High Tech design, and was responsible for the selection of Richard Rodgers and Renzo Piano to design the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the building that firmly established the movement. The exhibition is a comprehensive survey of Prouve's life and work, from his early career as a blacksmith, through the establishment of his factory producing components and structures, to later work as a consultant engineer. Architectural models, drawings, photographs and films are displayed alongside full scale structures, together with over 50 examples of his furniture designs. Prouve's fluid, functional designs developed not only the aesthetic possibilities of aluminium and steel, but also their economic and social applications. The exhibition demonstrates his central role in pioneering the use of metal in the mass production of both furniture and buildings in the 20th century. Design Museum until 25th March.

Sleeping Beauties: Walter Crane And The Illustrated Book presents highlights from the recently acquired Walter Crane Archive, spanning the career of the artist and designer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The broad selection includes Crane's early commissions, as well as original drawings for his famous Toy Book illustrations, flower books and political cartoons. Exploring the rich and varied subject matter within Crane's book designs, the exhibition brings to life the fantastic imagery in his work, as well as revealing the stories behind their inspiration and production. Crane's work is referenced by personal correspondence, photographs and hand written journals, as his own story is placed alongside fairy tale imagery, traditional stories and the private picture books created for his own children. The exhibition highlights various themes evident within Crane's practice, including his aspirations for political and social reform, as reflected in his vision of a picture book utopia. Crane's position as a leading figure of the aesthetic movement is explored through his imagery, as is his belief in the redemptive power of good design. Themes such as industrialisation, vegetarianism and man's relationship to the environment are explored in Crane's picture books, giving an insight into how these contemporary issues were regarded a century ago. The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, until March.

Medieval Ivories From The Thomson Collection is a selection of over 45 of the finest medieval carved ivories from the art collection of the late Kenneth Thomson. The display features most types of medieval ivory carving, with subjects ranging from the religious to the secular, including large statuettes of the Virgin and Child intended to stand on altars in chapels, together with small versions for private use in the home, and folding tablets or diptychs with scenes from the life of Christ carved in relief. Alongside these are carved writing tables, boxes and caskets, combs, hair parters, mirror cases with scenes of romantic encounters between young men and women, and a rare set of carved serving knives with fabulous beasts decorating the ivory handles. The centerpiece is an astonishingly carved Nativity and the Last Judgement, which until recently had been dismissed as a 19th century forgery, as its degree of accomplishment so far exceeds any other surviving medieval work. Other highlights include the Dormeuil Diptych of the Passion of Christ, the largest Passion diptych recorded, measuring 24.7cm by 31.4cm when opened, last on public display in 1913; a narrative comb showing two couples being transported to the fountain of youth in a carriage drawn by a horse and a mule, where they frolick naked in the waters; and a series of grisly memento mori beads designed to remind the owner of their own mortality, with heads on one side and worm eaten skulls on the other. Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London, until 9th March.

Atlantic Worlds is a new gallery that explores the interrelationship, connections and exchanges created between Britain, Africa and the Americas between 1600 and 1850, and looks at the impact and legacy of empire on three continents. It reveals how geographical exploration and the navigation of the Atlantic opened up new trade routes from the early 17th century onwards, and brought Europeans into contact with different cultures, setting in motion a dynamic of conquest and exploitation, as well as trading and cultural exchanges, which ultimately resulted in military conflict, in order to protect the new relationships that were forged. Paintings, prints, drawings, maps, models of ships, weapons, decorative arts and ethnographic materials are amongst the 220 objects on view. These include a 16th century Spanish astrolabe; gold weights, fashioned in the form of muskets, used for weighing gold dust by the Akan people of Southern Ghana during the 18th and 19th centuries; a detailed daily logbook from the slave schooner Juverna, written by Master Robert Lewis, which records the vessel's maiden voyage between Liverpool, West Africa and Surinam during 1804 and 1805; a North American shot pouch, made from moose and caribou skin, with porcupine quillwork embroidery and woven panels of triangles and rectangles reflecting Metis, Cree and Chippewyan influences; a harpoon gun used on Resolute, an auxilliary steam whaler of 680 tons, part of the Dundee fleet, which was crushed by the Arctic ice and sank in 1886; a copy of the American Declaration of Independence; and an 18th century guillotine, used in the Haitian uprising. National Maritime Museum, continuing.

Victorian Visions: 19th Century Photography offers an insight into the Victorian view of the world through around 40 original photographs, grouped into early works, landscape, documentary, women photographers and portraits. They include images made by major pioneers of photography, such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Lady Hawarden, Roger Fenton, Francis Frith, Robert Howlett and B.B. Turner. Among the highlights are: Julia Margaret Cameron's works echoing Pre-Raphaelite paintings in their romantic subject matter; Lady Hawarden's intense photographs of female sitters, often her own daughters, making use of natural light, reflections and a careful choice of viewpoint and props; B B Turner and Roger Fenton's landscapes, which follow in the tradition of British landscape painting; Paul Martin's photographs of day trippers enjoying the beach at Yarmouth Sands, a new leisure activity made possible by the building of the railways; a selection of carte de visite (small portrait photographs exchanged between friends and stuck into albums) of various eminent Victorians such as Charles Dickens and William Gladstone; and documentary images that record the desolation of the Crimea War, and the groundbreaking nature of Victorian engineering. Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, Liverpool, until 16th March.

William Blake: 'I still go on / Till the Heavens and Earth are gone' is an exhibition marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Blake. The unconventional artist, whose works encompassed hallucinations on Peckham Rye and poems of biblical turmoil, combined the prosaic with the visionary. A collection of Blake's designs and watercolours from both public and private collections is displayed alongside some of his most famous illustrated books and colour prints. The highlight is a group of eight recently discovered plates from the 'Small Book of Designs', which have never been on public view before. As part of gallery's contribution to the anniversary celebration, it has published a facsimile of William Blake's first printed book of poems, the 'Poetical Sketches' of 1783, from a copy which includes the author's handwritten corrections, which is also on display. Tate Britain until 1st June.


Top Of The Bill is a display of a material from the National Fairground Archive collection of 20,000 items of ephemera, some dating back as far as the 16th century, The show features giant posters, handbills and other display materials advertising fairground events across the country, promoting international acts such as Barnum and Buffalo Bill, along with stranger home grown entertainment, including a 'Nyctalope' who could see in the dark, a Peristrephic Panorama, which involved a long band of canvas on which a continuous sequence of scenes was depicted (the first 'moving pictures'), and FC Burnand's illusions show involving moving curried prawns. In addition to advertisements for particular acts and shows, there are also many fairground, travelling show and circus scenes, capturing the excitement of the traditional rides, attractions and amusements, portrayed in various period styles, reflecting the social changes in public entertainment. In addition, there are colourful letterheads, receipts, tickets and other printed matter, all created in the extravagant and spectacular fairground design style. These materials are on view to the public for the first time in the exhibition space that forms part of the National Fairground Archive's new 'front of house'. This now allows access to its book and journal collections, including a complete set of World's Fair newspapers, microfilm reading facilities, and electronic resources, including its 80,000 image database. Western Bank Library University of Sheffield, until 7th February.

The Age Of Enchantment: Beardsley, Dulac And Their Contemporaries 1890-1930 marks the dramatic change in the world of the illustrated book that occurred following the death of Aubrey Beardsley. The 'degenerate' images of scandal and deviance disappeared, as the age of decadence was softened to delight rather than to shock. Whimsy and a pastel toned world of childish delights and an innocent exoticism unfolded in the pages of familiar fables and children's stories, such as The Arabian Nights and Hans Andersen's tales, published with lavish colour plates. A new generation of illustrators emerged, led by the masters of this new art form, artists Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielson and Arthur Rackham, followed by Jessie King, Annie French, the Detmold Brothers, Sidney Sime, Laurence Houseman, Charles Ricketts and Harry Clarke. The exhibition comprises over 100 works arranged by theme: the Exotic, the Arabian World, the Chinese World, Greeks and Romans, Fairies and Monsters. Among the many highlights are Beardsley's 'Salome', 'Le Morte d'Arthur' and 'The Rape of the Lock'; Dulac's 'Circe' and 'The Ice Maiden'; Rackham's 'Lizzie, Lizzie, Have You Tasted for My Sake the Fruit Forbidden'; Clarke's 'The Pit and the Pendulum; and plates from 'the Detmold's 'The Jungle Book' and Sime's 'Zoology'. Dulwich Picture Gallery, London until 2nd February.

Millscapes: Art Of The Industrial Landscape looks at the industrial architecture of the North West, from the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, when mills, and the canal systems, aqueducts, warehouses and streets of terraced housing built with them, completely transformed the landscape, through the decline after the Second World War, to today's changing skylines. Paintings of early water powered mills in rural settings contrast with images of those built on the edge of urban developments, and dark, smoggy industrial landscapes, seen in French Impressionist Pierre Adolphe Valette's 'Bailey Bridge, Manchester', and James Purdy's view of 'Millbottom,' Oldham', together with works by unknown artists, including 'Lowerhouse Printworks, Burnley' and 'Frenches Mill, Saddleworth'. Paintings from the 1930s and 1940s include 'Our Town' and 'Street Scene' by LS Lowry, the rigid lines and smoking chimneys providing a stark contrast to Harry Rutherford's cheerful and informal 'Mill Girls, Ashton'. By the 1980s, over half of the mills and cloth-finishing works in Greater Manchester had been demolished or were derelict, and the subsequent regeneration is captured in Liam Spencer's 'Rooftops' and 'The End of the Mancunian Way', Peter Stanaway's 'Now the Mill Has Gone', Walter Kershaw's 'Mutual Mills Reflections', Alan Rankle's 'Saddleworth Study: Uppermill' and David Gledhill's 'Old Mill Street'. Gallery Oldham until 2nd February.