News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd May 2012


The Queen: Art And Image brings together of some of the most remarkable and resonant images in a wide range of different media across a 60 year reign. Formal painted portraits, official photographs, media pictures and powerful responses by contemporary artists are on show in an exhibition that has both traditional representations and unconventional works, which extend the visual language of royal portraiture. Documenting the changing nature of representations of the Monarch, the exhibition shows how images serve as a lens through which the changing perceptions of royalty can be viewed. It also demonstrates fundamental shifts in the social scene and historical context, highlighting important developments and events, as well as the advent of new technology. This multi-textured view of the period is emphasised by the inclusion, alongside fine art, of material drawn from newspapers, film footage, postage stamps and satirical images. Among the highlights are Annigoni's iconic 1954 portrait together with his very different but no less magisterial 1969 painting, Lucian Freud's 2000 portrait, and Thomas Struth's recent large scale photograph depicting The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. Among other photographers whose images are included are Annie Leibovitz, Dorothy Wilding, Cecil Beaton (the iconic Westminster Abbey Coronation picture) and Chris Levine (the highly unusual photograph of The Queen with her eyes closed). Alongside these there is a rich selection of unofficial portraits from major artists including Gilbert and George, Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter, as well as spontaneous portraits by such photographers as Eve Arnold, Patrick Lichfield and Lord Snowdon. National Portrait Gallery until 21st October.

Edvard Munch: Graphic Works From The Gundersen Collection features masterpieces from an outstanding private collection of prints by the Norwegian artist, never shown before in Britain. The extraordinary collection of lithographs and woodcuts show Munch's pioneering working processes and highlights the integral part that printmaking played within his artistic career. The exhibition comprises some 50 works, primarily dating from the period 1895 to 1902, which feature many of the motifs that Edvard Munch grouped together as a series entitled 'The Frieze of Life' that focused on universal concerns of love, anxiety and death, including a hand coloured version of his best known work 'The Scream'. One of Munch's most significant paintings, 'The Sick Child', based on his sister's death, is one of many works which deal with personal tragedy. Munch later developed the image into a lithograph that he considered to be his most important print, and three different versions are on show side by side in the exhibition. In addition, three examples of the lithograph 'Madonna' show how Munch used colour, both added by hand and in the printing process, to emphasise the drama of his images. An accompanying display draws out the wider European context and signals the depth of influence that Munch had upon artists working across Europe, including paintings and major prints by artists such as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Wassily Kandinsky. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 23rd September.

The Body Adorned: Dressing London looks across time and cultures at the relationships between dress, the body and the emergence of London as a world city. The exhibition considers how the movement of people, objects and ideas have influenced London dress in the past, and explores body adornment in today's capital. It first examines body adornment practices across the world, with some 300 objects that include an Ancestor figure from Papua New Guinea; a shaman figure from North America; early tattooing instruments; a Native American headdress; European folk costumes; and a spectacular Maori ancestor figure. These objects give an insight into the messages dress conveys in these societies, and the role dress plays in magic, religion, warfare, social status, gender, marriage and death. The focus of the exhibition then turns to contemporary London, with film and photography used to consider dress choices in London today, including a video installation by the innovative filmmakers and designers The Light Surgeons, in which people in various parts of London talk about their own and others' dress choices; a display of large scale photographs taken by young people exploring the many ways in which Londoners dress; and an in depth looks at the intimate choices, and even anxieties, of Londoners, as revealed by a multi-faith wedding wardrobe, a sharp suited business woman, and the mysteries of a teenage bedroom. Horniman Museum, London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23, until 6th January.


Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames brings to life the history of the Thames as Britain's royal river and London's 'grandest street'. The exhibition evokes the sights, sounds and even the smells of half a millennium of royal river pageantry and popular celebration, and shows how the river pageants were used to celebrate the coronation and inauguration of Tudor and Stuart Queens. For hundreds of years the Thames has been a unique site for royal, national and civic ceremony and celebration. Providing a larger stage than any street on land, the river has seen the pomp of spectacular coronations, the music and fireworks of extravagant processions, and the bustle of festive frost fairs, where rich and poor mingled on its frozen surface. A wealth of fascinating objects take visitors from Anne Boleyn's coronation procession to Lord Nelson's funeral, from the gilded magnificence of the Lord Mayor's pageant to the noxious horror of the 'Great Stink', and from the great riverside seats of regal power to the floating palaces of the royal yachts. Among the nearly 400 paintings, manuscripts and beautiful artefacts are rarely seen uniforms, silver and barge decorations from the City's many livery companies, an elaborate silver microscope made for George III and the 16th century Pearl Sword, which to this day the monarch must touch upon entering the City of London. Other highlights include the oldest known copy of Handel's Water Music, Bazalgette's original contract drawings for the construction of the Thames embankment, Anne Boleyn's personal music book, the magnificent stern carvings from the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert III, and a remarkable collection of paintings by Canaletto. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until 2nd September.

Alex Katz: Give Me Tomorrow focuses on seascapes and beach scenes, as well as images of family holidays and friends, painted in the seaside retreat of Lincolnville, Maine. Alex Katz is one of the most important and respected living American artists, with a career that spans six decades, and this exhibition brings together over 30 canvases, plus collages and cut-outs from the 1950s to today. Katz's paintings are defined by their flatness of colour and form, their economy of line, and their cool but seductive emotional detachment. Working with classical themes of portraiture, landscape, figure studies, marine scenes and flowers, many of Katz's works picture an everyday America of easy living, leisure and recreation. Influenced as much by style, fashion and music as he is art history, he remains a very classical painter, working in the tradition of European and American artists like Manet, Matisse, and Hopper. In the 1950s, Abstract Expressionism was still the dominant force in American art when Katz began exhibiting. Whilst his interests were firmly based in the previous generation of artists including Pollock, Rothko, Guston and De Kooning, his own painting developed in reaction to their work, and he is acknowledged as a hugely influential precursor to the Pop Art movement with which he became associated throughout the 1960s. Katz has created an unmistakable language and has remained a prolific painter and an influential and important figure for generations of artists. Highlights include 'Round Hill', 'Isleboro Ferry Slip', 'Eleuthera' and 'Black Hat (Bettina)'. Tate St Ives until 23rd September.

Picasso Prints: The Vollard Suite is the first time that a complete set of the Spanish artist's most celebrated series of etchings has been shown in Britain. The Vollard Suite comprises 100 etchings produced by Pablo Picasso between 1930 and 1937, at a critical juncture in his career. They were commissioned by Ambroise Vollard, the greatest avant-garde Paris art dealer and print publisher of his day, who gave Picasso his first Paris exhibition in 1901. The prints were made when Picasso was involved in a passionate affair with his muse and model, Marie-Therese Walter, whose classical features are a recurrent presence in the series. They offer evidence of an ongoing process of change and metamorphosis that eludes any final resolution. Picasso gave no order to the plates nor did he assign any titles to them. He kept the plates open-ended to allow connections to be freely made among them, yet certain thematic groupings can be identified. The predominant theme of the Vollard Suite is the Sculptor's Studio, which deals with Picasso's engagement with classical sculpture. The etchings of Marie-Therese, represent a dialogue alternating between the artist and his creation and between the artist and his model. Various scenarios are played out between the sculptor, the model and the created work. Among them is the classical myth of Pygmalion in which the sculptor becomes so enamoured of his creation that it comes to life at the artist's touch. Classical linearity and repose within the studio also alternate with darker, violent forces. The latter are represented by scenes of brutal passion and by the Minotaur, the half-man, half-animal of classical myth, which became central to Picasso's personal mythology. The series concludes with three portraits of Vollard himself, made in 1937. British Museum until 2nd September.

Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist features the little known anatomical studies of the human body by 'the' Renaissance man, which were never published in his lifetime. The exhibition comprises 87 anatomical drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, the largest collection to ever go on show, including a detailed portrayal in red chalk of a child in the breech position; pencil drawings of the human skull; a series of cross sections of the human shoulder in motion; a set of views of the inner workings of the human hand; and a detailed drawing of the cardiovascular system, compiled in several stages, sketched first in red and then black chalk, with his fingerprints still visible on the paper. This body of work, driven by Leonardo's desire to be 'true to nature' saw him dissect some 30 corpses, from which he compiled hundreds of sheets of drawings of the human body, inventing biological drawing as he did so. However, his research stayed among his private papers until 1900, when the drawings were finally published and understood by the scientific world. Leonardo's work as an anatomist was deeply serious, incredibly detailed and hugely important, showing that as well as being a consummate painter and inventor, he was also a great scientist. Had they been published in his time, he would have been the most important figure ever to publish on human anatomy, and would be regarded now on par with Galileo or Newton. These drawings have been in the possession of the English monarch's Royal Collection since 1690, and are the largest surviving group of these works. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 7th October.

Spencer's Earthly Paradise celebrates the 50th anniversary of the opening of the gallery dedicated to the work of the idiosyncratic British painter. Stanley Spencer lived and worked for most of his life in Cookham, and the gallery has a particular significance, as it is a former Wesleyan chapel, where he worshipped as a child, and is recorded in one of the drawings in the show: 'Ecstasy in a Wesleyan Chapel'. The exhibition, comprising over 50 works, includes a series of self-portraits ranging from his dramatic first 'Self-Portrait' in oils of 1914 to his final 'Self-Portrait' of 1959; religious works, such as 'The Last Supper', set in a Cookham malt-house 'Sarah Tubb and the Heavenly Visitors', showing Granny Tubb kneeling to pray in Cookham High Street fearing the world was going to end after the appearance of Halley's Comet, 'St Francis and the Birds' and 'Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta'; local and domestic works such as 'Mending Cowls, Cookham' and 'Domestic Scenes: At the Chest of Drawers'; and The Astor Scrapbook drawings, featuring Elsie Munday the Spencers' maid, Patricia Preece his second wife and Daphne Charlton with whom he had an affair. Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham, until 4th November.

Signs, Symbols, Secrets: An Illustrated Guide To Alchemy reveals the power and intricacy of alchemical art and attempts to interpret the hidden meanings behind the symbols. The quest for the philosophers' stone was a major preoccupation of the early modern world. This precious substance was said to transform base metals into silver and gold, heal sickness, and unlock the mysteries of God and nature. Its recipe was a closely guarded secret and a bewildering array of signs and symbols were used, both figuratively and allegorically, to convey key processes and ideas in the search for the fabled stone. This exhibition follows the theme of a recipe using the same sources devised and decoded by the alchemists themselves, comprising striking images from the 16th to the 18th centuries. At its heart is a newly discovered manuscript: a Ripley scroll. These rare scrolls include some of the most complex and fascinating alchemical imagery in existence, and for the first time, this object can be viewed alongside other selected texts and images. Its rich symbolism offers clues, both practical and theoretical, for the creation of the philosophers' stone. Only 23 Ripley scrolls, named after the English alchemist George Ripley, are known to exist. Scholars believe that all the surviving examples are copies and variations upon a lost 15th century original. The scrolls range in size, but are all too long to be viewed and understood in a single glance. Scholars are still investigating how they are meant to be read and used. It is possible that the original scroll was created for a wealthy patron interested in alchemy. Over time, the scrolls have become prized for the quality of their imagery. Science Museum until 27th April.


Turner Inspired: In The Light Of Claude examines the influence of the 17th century artist on the work of the 19th century artist. JMW Turner's daring free painting technique and radical approach created a revolution in painting at the beginning of the 1800s. The inspiration for these dramatic developments was the artist Claude Gellee's mastery of light on canvas. This exhibition tells the story behind Turner's inspiration and the revolutionary works that went on to inspire future generations of artists. The show reveals how Turner's life long desire to absorb all he could from the Old Master lay at the heart of his work. From the Roman Campagna-inspired views of the Thames Valley to paintings of the emerging industrial landscape, such as 'Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Night', the exhibition demonstrates Turner's skill at recreating gleaming light and atmosphere. It focuses on the major Claude inspired themes that run through Turner's career, and that on occasion shocked and dazzled audiences of his day: the evocation of light and air in landscape, the effect of light upon water, and his often radical reworking of contemporary scenes. The exhibition brings together large majestic oils on canvas, mezzotints, etchings, watercolours and works in gouache, plus leaves from Turner's pocket sketchbooks that show intimate drawings in pen, pencil and ink on paper, which have rarely been on public display. The importance of the sea to Britain's identity is another crucial theme of Turner's work, and Claude's harbour scenes exerted a powerful hold on his imagination, as shown in works including 'Le Havre: Sunset in the Port' and 'East Cowes, the Seat of J Nash, Esq'. National Gallery until 5th June.

Golden Spider Silk is a unique display, featuring the only large textiles in the world to have been created from the silk of spiders. It comprises two pieces, each made from the silk of female Golden Orb Weaver spiders collected in the highlands of Madagascar. The hand-woven textiles are naturally golden in colour, and each took over four years to create. A 4m long brocaded textile is on show, together with a golden cape, decorated with a wealth of complex embroidered and appliqued motifs celebrating the spider in myth and metaphor. Inspired by 19th century accounts and illustrations, Simon Peers, an Englishman, and Nicholas Godley, an American, started experimenting with spider silk in 2004 to see if they could revive this forgotten art. It is a highly labour intensive undertaking, making these textiles extraordinarily rare and precious objects. To create the textiles, spiders are collected each morning and harnessed in specially conceived 'silking' contraptions. Trained handlers extract the silk from 24 spiders at a time. It has taken over 1 million spiders to provide the silk for the brocaded textile and 80 people 5 years to collect them. The silk of 1.2 million spiders went into making the cape. After 'silking', the silk is taken on cones to the weaving workshop, where skilled weavers have mastered the special tensile properties of the silk. In the Malagasy textile, each warp is made from 96 spun strands of spider silk and each brocading weft has 10 of those threads together - 960 strands in total. In the cape, the main weave is also of 96 strands, the lining 48 strands and a large part of the embroidery is made using unspun 24 strand silk. On average, 23,000 spiders yield around 1 ounce of silk. Victoria & Albert Museum, until 5th June.

Yayoi Kusama features pioneering work by the contemporary Japanese artist spanning 6 decades. From Yayoi Kusama's earliest explorations of painting in provincial Japan, to new unseen works, this exhibition reveals a history of successive developments and daring advances, demonstrating why she remains one of the most engaging practitioners today. Conceived as a series of immersive environments, the exhibition unfolds in a sequence of rooms, each devoted to the emergence of a new artistic stance. Much of Kusama's art has an almost hallucinatory intensity that reflects her unique vision of the world, whether through a teeming accumulation of detail or the dense patterns of nets and polka dots that have become her signature. Kusama is renowned for her large-scale installations that immerse the viewer, and the exhibition features a new specially conceived work 'Infinity Mirrored Room - Filled with the Brilliance of Life', her largest mirrored room to date. Other highlights include 'Aggregation: One Thousand Boats Show', her first room installation; a significant selection of the 'Sex Obsession' and 'Food Obsession' Accumulation Sculptures; the installations 'The Clouds', comprising 100 unique black and white sprayed sewed stuffed cushions, 'Heaven and Earth', which features snake-like forms emerging from forty boxes, and 'I'm Here, but Nothing', a darkened domestic space covered with fluorescent polka dots; and the film 'Kusama's Self-Obliteration'. Tate Modern until 5th June.