News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd February 2005


The Hunterian Museum has reopened following a £3.2m refurbishment to encourage the public to explore the wealth of material that has been a source of inspiration to surgeons, scientists and artists for over two hundred years. The collection, begun by John Hunter in the 18th century, is a mix of comparative anatomy and pathology specimens; complete skeletons, bones, skulls and teeth; dried preparations, corrosion casts and wax teaching models; historical surgical and dental instruments, together with modern surgical instruments and technologies; as well as paintings, drawings and sculpture. It traces the story of surgery from its roots in the mediaeval Guild of Barber-Surgeons, through the anatomical tables commissioned by John Evelyn in the 1640s, and over 3,000 specimens prepared and collected by Hunter himself. A new gallery entitled The Science of Surgery combines surgical instruments and medical equipment, pathological specimens and archive material to provide a unique insight into the development of surgery since the 18th century. Among the 'highlights' are the skeleton of Charles Byrne, the 7ft 7in 'Irish Giant', the brain of Charles Babbage, the mathematician who invented the computer, and a collection of picked babies and deformed animals floating in formaldehyde far more ghoulish than the recently departed shark. The Hunterian Museum, The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London continuing.

100 Years - 100 Chairs offers a view of the different periods of industrial design in the 20th Century by examining one of the most basic products. A revolution started at the beginning of the 20th century, when Gerrit Rietveld designed furniture with simple lines, while Marcel Breuer created the first tubular steel chairs, Alvar Alto was the first to use plywood, and Jean Prouve started to use techniques and materials from the aeronautical industry. Following the Second World War, American designers began to collaborate closely with industry as Charles Eames, Ero Saarinen and Harry Bertoia worked to make good design accessible to the general public. Meanwhile in Europe, furniture design was a developing mainly in Scandinavia, with Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen creating wooden furniture, and in Italy, where designers used more novel materials like plastic. The malleability of these materials, and the development of new types of foam, gave rise to creative fantasy in the sixties, with Pop Art providing a source of inspiration for designers Verner Paton and Joe Colombo. Since then, designs by Memphis, Archizoom, Philippe Starck, Ron Arad, and Frank Gehry have become even more radical. Drawings, sketches and documents accompany the chairs, which are shown in specially designed interiors evoking the historical context in which they were created. Six films reveal the manufacturing process of some of the specimins, and give an insight into different production techniques. CUBE Manchester until 5th May.

William Orpen: Politics, Sex And Death is the first major public display of the artist's work since 1918, reflecting the fact he has suffered the fate of many painters of the Edwardian era, a kind of benign neglect. The exhibition reveals the full variety of Orpen's work, from his revitalisation of the nude, depicted in modern, natural or domestic situations, which shockingly contravened 19th conventions, to his extraordinary allegories and war paintings, where instead of showing the heat and action of battle, he portrayed its aftermath, with the cost in human terms. It includes conversation pieces, such as 'Homage to Manet' and 'A Bloomsbury Family', which demonstrate his interest in the old masters, from Velasquez to Hogarth and even the early work of Cezanne. There are also the series of Orpen's self portraits, which he executed throughout his life, often painted in a mirror, seen as part of the composition, and many of which mock his own character with a mixture of humour and bitterness. His experiences as an official war artist haunted him for the rest of his life, and the exhibition includes a selection of the portraits, landscapes and allegorical paintings that reflect his disillusion with the war and the ruin of his health. In all, the show includes over 80 oils and 40 drawings brought together from around the world for the first time. Imperial War Museum until 2nd May.


Turner Whistler Monet examines the influences and relationship between three giants of nineteenth century art - JMW Turner, James McNeill Whistler and Claude Monet - each of whom changed the course of landscape painting. Whistler and Monet were friends and both acknowledged the profound influence of Turner, adopting and working their own variations on themes developed by their artistic predecessor. Turner's atmospheric effects, often reflecting the smoke and fog filled air caused by pollution, gave rise to Whistler's Thames 'Nocturnes', in which he chose to veil the ugliness of industrial London by painting it at night, and both Turner and Whistler informed Monet's revolutionary paintings that contributed to the development of Impressionism. This exhibition focuses on their water paintings, with over 100 views of the Thames, the Seine and the city and lagoon of Venice, often with the sun piercing through the haze of post industrial pollution. It is a rare opportunity to see works that were highly controversial in their own day, but are now seen as some of the most poetic and evocative images ever produced. They employ the full range of media - oils, watercolours, pastels, etchings and lithographs - and are often in series, where the artist has returned to the same view to capture it under different lighting conditions. Tate Britain until 15th May.

Andy Warhol Self Portraits is the first exhibition to be devoted entirely to Warhol's presentation and manipulation of his own likeness. One of the first artists to appropriate imagery from advertising and other expressions of consumer culture, particularly Campbell's Soup, Brillo and Coca Cola, and the creator of iconic portraits of post war celebrities from politics to show business, such as Mao-Tse Tung and Marilyn Monroe, Warhol's works have become the best known images of their period. This show brings together 85 of Warhol's self portraits, from his earliest youthful paintings and drawings of the 1940s, to gaunt, hollowed cheeked images made in 1986, shortly before his death. In assessing how he created the facade of his public persona in all its manifestations - paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, film and even wallpaper - and technicolor variety, with wigs, make up and accessories, it attempts to find the real Warhol beneath (always supposing there was one). It also suggests one of the things that the facade was trying to block out: a fear of death, particularly after he was shot by a writer who had appeared in his films. This manifests itself in images in which he includes a skull, or is being strangled by the hands of an unseen assailant, and appears in his final works, where he is staring out like a disembodied death's head. Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art, Edinburgh until 2nd May.

You Are Here: The Design Of Information examines how we communicate without words, exploring the history of information design, and decoding the ingenious use of visual information that guides us through our daily lives. From medieval pilgrim maps, 18th century orreries and Florence Nightingale's pioneering use of diagrams in relaying information to the military authorities during the Crimean War, to today's weather maps, medical models, planetaria, pictograms, aircraft instrument panels and explosion of digital imagery on computers, televisions and phone screens, this exhibition celebrates innovative and inspiring examples of visual information systems that have helped us to understand our world. It includes pioneers both familiar and unknown, from the 16th century, such as Robert Recorde, the man who invented the = sign, through the 18th century, with William Playfair's invention of the pie chart, and the 19th century, with Charles Booth's innovative colour coding system in his Poverty Map of London, to the work of modernist heroes, such as Herbert Bayer, Ladislav Sutnar and Buckminster Fuller, and totems of daily life, like Harry Beck's iconic 1930s London Underground map (from which most transport system maps are derived) and Jock Kinneir's 1960s British motorway signage system. Design Museum until 15th May.

The Churchill Museum is a new £13.5m museum at the Cabinet War Rooms dedicated to the life of Winston Churchill, housed within the rooms that provided shelter for the British Prime Minister and his government during the Second World War. These rooms have been kept just as they were left at the end of the six years of war. The 10,000 sq ft museum combines cutting edge technology, with rare historical objects and thousands of images, film and sound recordings, to tell the private and public story of Churchill's ninety year life. Visitors enter into an area telling about Churchill as war leader, and can then move forward in time to when he was a statesman during the cold war, and back to his early years and exploits as a soldier in South Africa, before embarking on his long political career. In addition to materials already in the possession of the Imperial War Museum (of which this is a part) artefacts have been lent or given from institutions around the globe. These aim to show the man as well as the statesman, and include Churchill's distinctive siren suit and bow tie, and even school reports, love letters, cigar butts and his controversial dentures. A major feature is The Lifeline, an electronic interactive display in the form of a table over 20ft in length. Visitors are able to see what Churchill was doing and what was happening in the world at various points from 1874 until 1965. The information is made up from scanned documents, photographs and sound, and makes full use of the Churchill papers from Churchill College Cambridge. The Churchill Museum at the Cabinet War Rooms continuing.

The View From Manchester: Don McPhee is the first solo exhibition of work by the Guardian photographer, covering his 33 year career at the Manchester office of the newspaper. McPhee recorded Manchester life over the decades, whilst using the city as a base to capture defining moments in Britain and around the world. His photographs demonstrate a gentle humanity as well as technical accomplishment. McPhee started work on local newspapers in Stockport, Southend and Norwich, before joining an agency in York that supplied pictures to the Guardian. In 1970 he joined the Guardian as a staff photographer and has worked there ever since. There are around fifty photographs in the exhibition, most of them black and white. Subjects include a striking miner in a toy policeman hat confronting a line of policemen, pensioners lying on Blackpool beach fully clothed (including raincoats and caps) and Nelson Mandela campaigning for election in South Africa. McPhee's work has taken him all over the UK and much of the wider world, including India, South Africa, America, Israel, Hong Kong and Moldova. He has always relished the freedom to look at the world from an individual angle, and often been canny enough to ask the obvious question the reporter forgot. Manchester Art Gallery until 3rd April.

Antony Caro surveys over fifty years work by of one of Britain's - and the world's - greatest living sculptors. Having started with figurative pieces in the 1950s, it was the abstract constructions in painted steel that Caro began to make in 1960 that heralded a revolution in the way sculpture was made and understood. He abandoned conventional methods, such as carving in stone or wood, or modelling in clay and then casting in plaster or bronze. In their place, he used pieces of scrap steel - girders and sheet metal - which he bolted and welded together, and then painted in bright colours, the first of which was 'Twenty Four Hours', and best known 'Early One Morning'. Breaking with the principle of displaying sculpture on a pedestal, Caro's work stood directly on the ground with the viewer. Nothing like it had existed before, and these developments overturned ideas about the subject, materials and appearance of sculpture. He then went on to turn this on its head, by making smaller pieces of 'table sculpture', whose delicacy fed back into his lager works such as 'Orangerie' and 'Sun Feast'. From the 1980s onwards Caro increasingly used media other than steel, including bronze, brass, wood, ceramic and even paper. In recent years his work has become more architectural, culminating in the major installation 'The Last Judgement' recreated here. Caro's most recent work, 'Milbank Steps' a formation resembling a ziggurat, was made especially for this exhibition. Tate Britain until 17th April.


Toulouse-Lautrec And The Art Of The French Poster recreates an exhibition held in London in 1894 highlighting the fashion for poster art in Paris in the late nineteenth century. Much of the material passed into the hands of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and this is the first chance to assess its importance since 1894. Remarkably, the selection by the original organisers is more or less the same as would be made today, with Henri deToulouse-Lautrec, Jules Cheret, Grasset, Steinlen, Bonnard and Vallotton featuring strongly, plus a mixture of more commercial images to provide an overall background. The poster had come of age as an art form from the late 1880s onwards, facilitated by the advent of modern colour lithography - the printing of large coloured images from stones pulled on a lithographic press. This led to an explosion of imaginative 'high class' imagery, whereby every day products were sold through coloured images created by some of the greatest artists alive. The key figure is now recognised to be Toulouse-Lautrec, though contemporaries favoured Cheret, and would not have realised the long term artistic significance of artists such as Bonnard and Vallotton. The exhibition stresses the role of Toulouse-Lautrec by including his work as a general printmaker, as well as examples of the work of Mucha and other non-French artists, to show the wider field in Paris at the time. The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle until 13th March.

Robert Mapplethorpe Curated By David Hockney is one artist's view of another: a personal selection of portraits, still lifes, flowers and nudes by the photographer whose work and life captured the spirit of his generation. The pair first met in 1970, when Hockney visited Mapplethorpe while he was living and working with the poet and rock musician Patti Smith at the Chelsea Hotel in New York. They became friends, and Mapplethorpe photographed Hockney on several occasions, including the 1976 portrait on New York's Fire Island. The exhibition comprises around sixty of Mapplethorpe's dramatic black and white photographs, taken in the years 1975 to 1988. They highlight Mapplethorpe's aesthetic sensibility, the controlled balance between light and shadow, balance and symmetry, beauty and obscenity. There are portraits of leading creative figures in contact with both Mapplethorpe and Hockney, including artists Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, and Louise Bourgeois, writers William Burroughs and Bruce Chatwin, and Patti Smith. Hockney has also selected portraits of famous acquaintances, including Richard Gere, Lord Snowdon, Yoko Ono, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Marianne Faithful and Iggy Pop. Many of the images are Mapplethorpe's lesser known works, and some have never previously been exhibited in London. Alison Jacques Gallery, Clifford Street London, 020 7287 7675 until 12th March.

Disraeli - A Man Of Many Parts marks the bicentenary of the birth of Benjamin Disraeli, one of the most influential figures of Victorian Britain, with an exhibition that endeavours to illuminate key aspects of his life, career and character.His critical role in shaping Victorian England, his politics and literary aspirations, his complex relationship with his Jewish origins, as well as his intriguing relationship with Queen Victoria, are examined through cartoons, documents, letters, books and original artefacts. The ambience of Disraeli's study in his house, Hughenden Manor, has been recreated with its books, furniture and family portraits. Disraeli was twice Prime Minister, instituted a series of important social reforms, and was formative in shaping the ideology of the modern Conservative party, while maintaining a parallel career as a prolific novelist. His flamboyant persona - the complete antithesis of his political rival Gladstone - which he astutely adopted to further his political ambitions, masked the much more sensitive and romantic nature revealed in his novels. Disraeli was not known by his contemporaries as The Sphinx for nothing. An accompanying programme of lectures and events draw upon the many components of Disraeli's life and career. The Jewish Museum, London until 27th February.