News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd October 2013


Beyond El Dorado: Power And Gold In Ancient Colombia looks at the complex network of societies in ancient Colombia, a hidden world of distinct and vibrant cultures spanning 1600 BC to AD 1700. In ancient Colombia gold was used to fashion some of the most visually dramatic and sophisticated works of art found anywhere in the Americas before European contact. This exhibition features over 300 exquisite objects drawn from one of the best and most extensive collections of Pre-Hispanic gold in the world. Although gold was not valued as currency in pre-Hispanic Colombia, it had great symbolic meaning. It was one way the elite could publicly assert their rank and semi-divine status, both in life and in death. The remarkable objects in the exhibition reveal glimpses of these cultures' spiritual lives, including engagement with animal spirits though the use of gold objects, music, dancing, sunlight and hallucinogenic substances that all lead to a physical and spiritual transformation enabling communication with the supernatural. Animal iconography is used to express this transformation in powerful pieces demonstrating a wide range of imaginative works of art, showcasing avian pectorals, necklaces with feline claws or representations of men transforming into spectacular bats though the use of profuse body adornment. The exhibition explores the sophisticated gold working techniques, and the technical skills achieved both in the casting and hammering techniques of metals by ancient Colombian artists. Objects include painted Muisca textile and one of the few San Agustín stone sculptures held outside Colombia. Those, together with spectacular large scale gold masks and other materials were part of the objects that accompanied funerary rituals in ancient Colombia. British Museum until 23rd March.

The Drawings Of Edward Burne-Jones: A Pre-Raphaelite Master is an exploration of the method and skills behind some of the best known works of one of the most significant British artists of the 19th century. This exhibition explores Edward Burne-Jones passion for drawing and the painstaking commitment he had to his work. Arranged thematically the exhibition starts with independent drawings, made not with a composition in mind but as artworks in their own right. Tender images of beautiful women with wide, expressive eyes, demonstrate his fascination with female beauty and youth. These drawings trace some of the changes in Burne-Jones's style that continued to develop throughout his long career. They also point to the influence of Italian Renaissance artists whose work, under the influence of art critic and writer John Ruskin, Burne-Jones fervently studied and admired. The second section explores the preparatory studies and drawings Burne-Jones produced as research for larger drawings, watercolours and tapestries, revealing his exhaustive method of building compositions. It includes studies made for major works such as his Pygmalion Series, The Briar Rose Series and The Wheel of Fortune. The content of these well thought out compositional studies also convey Burne-Jones' passion for Romantic and classical literature. Knights, mermaids, goddesses and beautiful women are all present in drawings inspired by myth and legend. The final section presents a number of designs for stained glass windows that Burne-Jones made for Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. The star of the show is 'Sponsa de Libano', a spectacular piece more than 3m tall that is one of Burne-Jones's most ambitious watercolours - too delicate for long-term display it has not been seen by the public for almost two decades. Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight Village, Wirral, until 12th January.

Vienna - Facing The Modern: The Portrait In Vienna 1900 examines the portraiture closely identified with the distinctive flourishing of modern art in the Austrian capital during its famed fin-de-siecle. The exhibition explores an extraordinary period of art in the multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-faith city of Vienna as imperial capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The period began with liberal and democratic reform, urban and economic renewal, and religious and ethnic tolerance, but ended with the rise of conservative, nationalist and anti-Semitic mass movements. Such dramatic changes had a profound impact on the composition and confidence of Vienna's middle classes, many of them immigrants with Jewish roots or connections. At the turn of the 20th century artists worked to the demands of patrons, and in Vienna modern artists were compelled to focus on the image of the individual. Iconic portraits from this period by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Richard Gerstl, Oskar Kokoschka and Arnold Schonberg are displayed alongside works by important yet less widely known artists such as Broncia Koller and Isidor Kaufmann. In contrast to their contemporaries working in Paris, Berlin and Munich, and in response to the demands of their local market, Viennese artists remained focused on the image of the individual. This exhibition can therefore reconstruct the shifting identities of artists, patrons, families, friends, intellectual allies and society celebrities of this time and place. Most works are on canvas, although there are also drawings and the death masks of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Gustav Mahler. Highlights include 'The Family (Self Portrait)' by Schiele; 'Nude Self Portrait' by Gerstl; 'Portrait of a Lady in Black' and 'Portrait of Hermine Gallia' by Klimt; and 'Portraits of Christoph and Isabella Reisser' by Anton Romako. National Gallery until 12th January.


The Cheapside Hoard: London's Lost Jewels paints a vivid picture of one of the darkest and most visceral periods of London's history. The Cheapside Hoard is a collection of late 16th and early 17th century jewels and gemstones that was discovered in 1912, buried in a cellar on Cheapside in the City of London. The story of this extraordinary treasure is multi-faceted - a tale of war, murder on the high seas, chance discovery and clandestine dealings. A jeweller's stock in trade, the Hoard was buried between 1640 and 1666. Comprising nearly 500 pieces, it includes delicate finger rings, cascading necklaces, Byzantine cameos, beautiful jewelled scent bottles, and a unique Colombian emerald watch. It is the single most important source of knowledge on early modern jewellery worldwide. However, research has found that amongst the Hoard are two counterfeit balas rubies, fashioned from rock crystal, cut, polished and dyed to represent natural gems by the dubious jeweller Thomas Sympson. His relatives, John and Francis Sympson, received stolen goods snatched from the jeweller, Gerrard Pulman, who became victim of a plot and was murdered for his stash of jewels on board a ship travelling home from Persia to London in 1631. The exhibition offers new evidence about the individuals and communities engaged in mining, cutting, trading and buying jewels and looks at their creative talents, craft skills and manufacturing techniques. The jewels are shown with a range of objects and portraits of goldsmith-jewellers, patrons and consumers, to paint a picture of the fashions and culture at play in Tudor and early Stuart London, and illustrate the importance of jewellery in early modern society. Museum Of London, 150 London Wall, until 27th April.

Kabuki: Japanese Theatre Prints reveals the spectacular artwork and larger-than-life characters from a 19th century Japanese cultural phenomenon shown in woodblock prints. Striking designs present vivid depictions of Kabuki, the popular form of traditional, all male, Japanese theatre, which combines drama, music, dance and acrobatics in convoluted plots concerning dramatic, emotional conflicts and feats of derring-do. The woodblock prints were a cheap and colourful medium of entertainment, much like magazines and posters today. Their visual style is akin to those of Manga comics and Japanese cinema. Publishing houses commissioned designs from the greatest artists of the era, but the prints were affordable to the average person on the street. In the 19th century, both men and women clamoured to acquire pictures of their favourite actor in the latest play. Such prints often sold in the thousands, creating an almost endless demand for new compositions from artists. The obsession with Kabuki actors led artists to take backstage scenes or life offstage as subject matter and so, in a loose parallel with modern candid publicity pictures in celebrity magazines, some prints portray actors out for a walk, dressed as ordinary people, or attending festivals. There are also representations of their cultural activities, participating in salons for poetry composition and calligraphy. The time span of the exhibition, 1830s to 1870s, encompasses a period of significant unrest in Japan, culminating in the collapse of the feudal system in 1868, followed by a period of modernisation and social reform. The later prints reflect these changes, in the style and themes and also in the introduction of new technology and dyes, which expanded the possibilities for artists and publishers. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 2nd February.

Tomorrow - Elmgreen & Dragset At The V&A is a major installation by the Danish/Norwegian artist duo spread over 5 galleries, in the form of an apartment belonging to a fictional, elderly and disillusioned architect. The installation features over 100 historical objects from the museum's collection that sit alongside works by the artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, as well as items sourced from antique markets. The result appears like a set for an unrealised film. To accompany it, Elmgreen and Dragset have written a script, which is available to visitors as a printed book. The drama centres on a retired architect who had great vision but very little success in his professional life. In his twilight years, and with the family fortune long gone, he is forced to sell his inherited home and all his possessions. The script comments on issues of ageing, disappointment and alienation in today's society. Within the domestic setting, visitors are uninvited guests, able to curl up in the architect's bed, recline on his sofa, or rifle through books placed to hint at the imagined events that could have taken place here. The installation examines interests that have abided throughout Elmgreen and Dragset's careers - those of redefining the way in which art is presented and experienced, issues around social models and how spaces and objects both inflict on and reflect our behavioural patterns. Victoria & Albert Museum until 2nd January.

Shunga: Sex And Pleasure In Japanese Art examines the often tender, funny, beautiful and sexually explicit works of art known as 'spring pictures' (shunga) that were produced between 1600 and 1900 by some of the masters of Japanese art. The exhibition features some 170 works including paintings, sets of prints and illustrated books with text. Shunga were mostly produced within the popular school known as 'pictures of the floating world' (ukiyo-e), by celebrated artists such as Hishikawa Moronobu, Kitagawa Utamaro and Katsushika Hokusai. Luxurious shunga paintings were also produced for ruling class patrons by traditional artists such as members of the Kano school, sometimes influenced by Chinese examples. This was very different from the situation in contemporary Europe, where religious bans and prevailing morality enforced an absolute division between 'art' and 'pornography'. The exhibition explores key questions about what shunga is, how it circulated and to whom, and why was it produced, thus establishing the social and cultural contexts for sex art in Japan and reaffirming the importance of shunga in Japanese art history. In early modern Japan Confucian ethics that focused on duty and restraint were promoted in education for all classes, and laws on adultery, were severe. There were also many class and gender inequalities, and a large and exploitative commercial sex industry (the 'pleasure quarters'). However, the values promoted in shunga are generally positive towards sexual pleasure for all participants. Although men were the main producers and consumers, it is clear that women also were an important audience. The custom of presenting shunga to women in a marriage trousseau seems to have been common, and some works seem to have been created more for women than for men. During the late 19th and 20th centuries, shunga was all but removed from popular and scholarly memory in Japan and became taboo. British Museum until 5th January.

Mystery, Magic And Midnight Feasts: The Many Adventures Of Enid Blyton is the first major exhibition to celebrate the life and work of Britain's most popular - and yet most reviled - author of books for children. The display aims to reveal Blyton's creative imagination and the events that shaped her life and storytelling, in the series she created, such as Noddy, the Famous Five, the Secret Seven and Malory Towers. Enid Blyton was the best selling English language author of the 20th century, and remains one of the most popular writers of all time. In a career that spanned 5 decades, she wrote an astonishing 700+ books and some 4,500 short stories. At the height of her powers, from 1951 to 1954, Blyton produced 192 books, an average of one a week. The books, which were often serialised, captivated children in the same way that Harry Potter has in recent times. Among the highlights of the exhibition are: original hand corrected typescripts including Five Have Plenty of Fun, Last Term At Malory Towers, Look Out, Secret Seven and Cheer Up Little Noddy; personal and nature diaries spanning the 1920s, 1930s and 1960s; Harmsen van der Beek's first Noddy illustration, and a letter to Enid Blyton; personal family photographs, including Blyton as a child; a recently discovered unpublished typescript of Mr Tumpy's Caravan; and her famous typewriter; together with recreations of the Secret Seven's legendary Shed, a Malory Towers classroom, and a life size Noddy car that visitors can sit in. Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books, Ouseburn Valley Newcastle upon Tyne, until February.

Attack: Histories Of British Iconoclasm is the first exhibition to explore the history of physical attacks on art in Britain, with examples from the 16th century to the present day. Iconoclasm describes the deliberate breaking of images, and the show explores 500 years of assaults on art, with paintings, sculpture and archival material, examining how and why icons, symbols and monuments have been attacked for religious, political or aesthetic motives. State-sanctioned religious iconoclasm of the 16th and 17th centuries is represented by medieval stained glass panels removed from the windows of Canterbury Cathedral, exhibited alongside Thomas Johnson's painting of the Cathedral's interior showing Puritan iconoclasts in action. Suffragette attacks on cultural heritage are shown by John Singer Sargent's 'Henry James', slashed at the Royal Academy, with archival documentation of the attacks, as well as police surveillance photography of the militant protagonists. Other actions against figures and symbols of political power include fragments of the statue of William III and of Nelson's Pillar, destroyed in Dublin in 1928 and 1966, and fragments of Joseph Wilton's statue of George III, blown up during the American War of Independence. Art that stimulates aesthetic outrage is represented by Carl Andre's 'Equivalent VIII' (the legendary Tate 'bricks'), the subject of not only verbal vitriol but also physical attack. As well as attacks on art, the show reveals how for some artists destruction can be utilised as a creative force and have transformed images into new works with new meanings. A piano destroyed by Raphael Montanez Ortiz during the Destruction in Art Symposium is on display together with an audio recording of the event, as well as works by Gustav Metzger, John Latham and Yoko Ono. Tate Britain until 5th January.


Thomas Scheibitz: One-Time Pad features new and recent work by one of the leading figures in the current generation of German artists. Thomas Scheibitz began developing a new form of conceptual painting during his studies at the School of Art in Dresden in the early 1990s. The exhibition brings together over 200 works, including painting, sculpture, drawing and works on paper, tracing the conceptual and painterly development of his career, with a particular focus on the human figure and the determination of form between figuration and abstraction. Scheibitz draws upon motifs and themes from the everyday and popular culture and architecture, but he also takes inspiration from art historical imagery such as Renaissance paintings or Medieval engravings, which he places in new perceptual contexts. He feeds his visual memory with a collection of found material, including photos, drawings, newspaper clippings, memos, book pages and objects, filters these through his thought processes, and retrieves them as a basis for the forms and structures of his paintings and sculptures. The exhibition includes an archive of Scheibitz's source material and models together with a new specially commissioned sculptural piece. The title of the exhibition (also the title of a painting), takes its name from a method of encryption that is used to transmit secret messages and is considered to be impossible to crack if used correctly. It alludes to the coding process Scheibitz employs in his work that audiences are invited to unlock. Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, until 3rd November.

Frank Holl: Emerging From The Shadows is the first major retrospective in more than 100 years of the eminent Victorian artist widely regarded in his own lifetime as a leading figure in social realist and portrait painting. Frank Holl's early death at 43 meant that he never fully received the acclaim his work merited. This exhibition brings together around 30 of Holl's major works to examine how, during his short career, he became a distinct and insightful voice in British painting. Holl was a leading exponent of subject painting, capturing scenes of everyday lives, a phenomenon that ran in tandem with the popularity of the novels of Charles Dickens. His early powerful portrayals of the impact of loss, departure and death, such as 'The Lord Gave and the Lord Hath Taken Away', resulted in a commission by Queen Victoria to go to the poor fishing village of Cullercoats to capture a community's hard life at first-hand in 'No Tidings from the Sea'. Holl joined the group of eminent artists, including Luke Fildes, Hubert von Herkomer and Millais, who illustrated the newly launched The Graphic, whose aim was to present a realistic picture of the poor and destitute of London, producing 'Gone' and one of his most celebrated works, 'Newgate, Committed for Trial'. There was then a change in direction for Holl, rejecting subject painting in favour of portraiture, a change that was a response to both a shift in artistic taste and his financial need. Holl soon became an acclaimed portraitist, with subjects including William Gilbert, Samuel Cousins, William Gladstone and Prince Edward. Watts Gallery, Compton, Surrey, until 3rd November.

Zoe Beloff: Dreamland - The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society And Its Circle 1926-1972 is an installation inspired by Sigmund Freud's visit to Coney Island Amusement Park in New York. Zoe Beloff takes Freud's interest in this site of fantasy as a starting point to display the history of the Coney Island Psychoanalytic Society, a small group of Freud followers, now considered an urban legend. Through recounting the activities of the society and in particular its founder Albert Grass, Beloff's work explores the unconscious of one of the world's great amusement parks, seeing it as an overlooked repository of society's dreams and desires. Among the elements are: drawings and an architectural model of the proposed Dreamland Amusement Park, designed to illustrate Freud's theory of dream formation, including Dream Work, Unconscious, Consciousness and Psychic Censor Pavilions; slides of the original The World In Wax exhibit, together with wax hands and glasses similar to those worn by Freud; weathered paintings on plywood of a bumper car ride called 'Engines of the ID', where patrons would choose cars with names like Infantile Impulse or Raw Regression and collide into each other on the floor marked out according to Freud's map of the psyche; a history of the Coney Island Amusement Park from the 1880's to the present day, as well as background on Sigmund Freud's visit; Archives of the Society, containing magazines, letters, snapshots, books and information panels; and Dream Films made by members of the Society. Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, until 2nd November.