News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd December 2009


The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam marks the 150th anniversary of Edward FitzGerald's publication of an interpretation of the poetical work attributed to an 11th century Persian mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam is one of the best known poems in the world. It has been translated into 85 languages, is among the most widely illustrated of all literary works, with over 130 known illustrators, has inspired many composers, and has been widely parodied - and also used in advertising. This exhibition tells the unlikely story of a medieval Persian scientist and poet, and a Victorian English writer, and the way their verses achieved international acclaim. Among the highlights are: a recreation of The Great Omar, a lavish, binding for the Rubaiyat, with a design featuring peacocks and grapes, inlaid and tooled in gold, with some 1,000 jewels, including Topazes, turquoises, amethysts, garnets, olivines and an emerald; a 16th century decorated Persian manuscript, containing the poems of Hafiz, interspersed with over 350 of Omar Khayyam's quatrains, individually inserted in especially illuminated panels; menus, pictures and other ephemera from an exclusive Victorian dining club established to celebrate the Rubaiyat; early 20th century parodies, such as Rubaiyat of a motor car, The Golfer's Rubaiyat, The Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten, and The Rubaiyat of a Maconochie Ration (a tinned stew issued as army rations in the First World War); and William Morris's special version of the Rubaiyat, made as a gift for Georgina Burne-Jones, hand written by Morris, with hand painted and coloured decorations and illustrations designed by him and Sir Edward Burne-Jones. British Library until 21st February.

Eric Gill: Sacred And Profane features iconic etchings and wood engravings revealing the contradictions between the late Victorian artist's deeply held religious faith and his controversial sexual interests. This exhibition examines these polarities in the engraver, typographer and sculptor, whose legacy has been dogged with accusations of incest and bestiality. Eric Gill became one of the most prolific English artists of his generation, and over a long career produced more than 100 engraved designs for books, becoming intricately linked with the Arts and Craft movement. Gill's work is characterised by a fervent Roman Catholicism, and images of saints, Biblical scenes and crucifixions dominate. However, these are juxtaposed with drawings of an often overtly sexual nature: couples embrace passionately, and nude figures pose provocatively, frequently in the shadow of the heavens. Gill somehow found a way of accommodating both deeply religious and sexual imagery. The undeniably elegant typographical designs are understated, yet extremely powerful, and almost eerie. Among the highlights are: a self-portrait, captured in profile, in which his stare is thoughtful and intense; 'Stay Me With Apples', which perfectly combines the religious and erotic, with the embracing couple wearing halos; 'Lovers, Man Lying', which is even more graphic in its portrayal of ecstatic abandon; and the most haunting image, 'Girl in Bath' a portrait of Gill's daughter, who he was accused of sexually abusing, with her head sunk towards her knees, so that her emotions are obscured, inviting the viewer to contemplate both the workings of her mind and Gill's tarnished legacy. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 28th February.

An 18th Century Enigma: Paul de Lamerie And The Maynard Master reveals the brilliant craftsmanship of the greatest silversmith working in England in the 18th century. Paul de Lamerie, a Huguenot, came to London with his parents, fleeing persecution in France. His success lay not only in his own exceptional creativity in producing stunning objects, but also in his ability as a businessman, retailing some astonishingly spectacular silver, using the most effective and innovative suppliers in the trade. The silver shown in this display is associated with de Lamerie's most brilliant craftsman, whose identity is still a mystery, known simply as the Maynard Master, named after the dish made for Grey, 5th Baron Maynard. The exhibition comprises masterpieces including the lavishly decorated Walpole salver, with engraving attributed to William Hogarth; the Newdigate centrepiece, richly decorated with characteristic Rococo motifs, but also containing elements typical of de Lamerie's work, such as the helmetted putti; a coffee or hot water pot, stand and lamp; a pair of candlesticks, recognisable as the work of the Maynard Master, by the plump cinnamon bun scrolls at the corners, and the large-headed youths on the stems; the Chesterfield wine cooler, with panels chased with the elements Fire, Air, Earth and Water; a lion mask (one of the signature elements of the Maynard Master); and the Maynard Dish itself, the piece that marked the first appearance of the artistic personality responsible for de Lamerie's most ambitious commissions. Victoria & Albert Museum until 9th May.


Wild Thing: Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska, Gill examines how, over a period of 10 years from 1905 to 1915, the radical impact of the work of three young sculptors transformed British sculpture. This is the first time that works by Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Eric Gill have been shown together in this revolutionary context. The exhibition explores the body of work executed by the three sculptors, and draws on the major themes that impressed upon them: sex, fertility, the human condition, the machine age, and the impact of war. The idea of wildness lay at the centre of their revolution, looking far beyond classical art to gain inspiration from what Gaudier-Brzeska called "the barbaric peoples of the earth". The works convey the momentous sense of change taking place in London and the world at the start of the 20th century. The show contains more than 90 works, featuring mainly sculptures, drawings and pastels. With a gallery dedicated to the work of each artist, it focuses on their key achievements, and reveals their impact on British sculpture. The show brings together spectacular works, including Epstein's robotic masterpiece 'Rock Drill'; Gaudier-Brzeska's innovative carving of 'Birds Erect', and the geometric 'Redstone Dancer'; and Gill's controversial carving of the sexual act 'Ecstasy', and the anatomically explicit nude woman 'A Roland for Oliver/Joie de Vivre'. The exhibition also examines the relationships between the three artists and some of their close friends. The Royal Academy of Arts until 24th January.

The Art Of Steampunk explores the phenomenon that creates an imagined sci-fi world and alternative history out of late Victorian invention. The Steampunk concept is described as 'a melding of late 1800s aesthetic with scientific discovery and otherworldly technology'. It is a sort of twist on the work of Jules Verne, H G Wells and Mary Shelley (plus a large slice of Heath Robinson). The exhibition features the work of 18 strangely named 'imagineers' from around the world, with an eclectic mix of exhibits, including computers redesigned by Datamancer from America; brass goggles by Mad Uncle Cliff from Australia; 'The Complete Mechanical Womb' by Molly 'Porkshanks' Friedrich; weird watches by Vianney Halter from Switzerland; 'Beauty Machine', in which a woman suffers the attentions of a robot that has gone beyond the limits of usefulness, by Stephane Halleux from Belgium; a Victorian style 'EyePod' by Dr Grymm; James Richardson-Brown's 'Ambulatory Intercommunication Device', combining bits of plumbing with a mock-ivory cameo; and Kris Kuksi's 'Anglo-Parisian Barnstormer', a mixture of Viking longboat, aeroplane, horse-drawn carriage and Eiffel Tower. The show is divided into two categories: the practical and the fanciful, and it encompasses everything from the dark and eerie, through the humorous, to the sublime. Oxford Museum of the History of Science until 21st February.

Experiments In Colour: Thomas Wardle, William Morris And The Textiles Of India focuses on a remarkable collaboration between a Victorian textile entrepreneur and the leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Together, Thomas Wardle and William Morris experimented with natural dyes and printing techniques, and their interest in colour led them to a joint fascination with the textiles of India. Their shared passion for reviving natural dye techniques involved both historical research and practical experimentation. Wardle travelled extensively in India observing and collecting samples, while Morris studied the collections at the South Kensington (now the Victoria and Albert) Museum. After a long process of trial and error, they succeeded in creating colours of a far superior quality to the chemical dyes being used in 19th century Britain. The exhibition explores the fruits of this partnership, which won both men international renown, and represents a unique moment in the history of British textiles. William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Road, London E17, until 24th January.

Frank Auerbach: London Building Sites 1952 - 1962 is the first exhibition to explore the extraordinary group of paintings of post war London building sites by one of Britain's greatest living artists. Fascinated by the rebuilding of London after the Second World War, Frank Auerbach combed the city's numerous building sites with his sketchbook in hand. Back in his studio he worked and reworked each painting over many months, resulting in thickly built up paint surfaces of more than an inch. This exhibition reunites the complete series of 14 building site paintings, together with rarely seen oil sketches, and a number of recently rediscovered sketchbook drawings. Auerbach's subjects included many of the major construction sites of the period, such as the Time and Life Building in Bruton Street, the rebuilding around St Paul's Cathedral, the John Lewis building in Oxford Street, and the Shell Building on the South Bank - London's first 'skyscraper'. Two exceptionally powerful paintings, 'Maples Demolition' and 'Rebuilding the Empire Cinema', mark the end of the series. They epitomise how Auerbach vividly translated chasms of mud and shored-up earth, cranes, scaffolding and the workmen of the building sites, into paintings that capture a powerful sense of the destruction and reconstruction inherent in the redevelopment of London's bomb sites. His heavily worked, thick surfaces, express the material character of the sites, a painted equivalent of the mountains of earth and rubble being excavated and reshaped across the city. Courtauld Gallery, London, until 17th January.

Garry Fabian Miller: The Colours features work of one of the leading figures in a small band of international photographers investigating the possibilities of camera-less photography - in essence, the interaction of light and light-sensitive paper. Garry Fabian Miller's works have more in common with the tradition of abstract painting than with proper photography. Looking back at pioneers of photographic experiment in the 1830s and 1840s, and to early 20th century artists such as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray, Miller has created his own visual language, producing unique, one-off prints that condense light and colour into spectacular images. However, the delicate balance between the art and science of these methods has come into clear focus in the past few years, as the all important raw material - light sensitive Cibachrome paper - has come under threat from the digital age. Artists such as Miller have had to stockpile materials and re-think their practice as the manufacturers of their precious paper go to the wall. This exhibition reflects his gradual adaptation to the culture of new electronic media, yet the pure aesthetic charm of his often large-format, dreamlike geometries remains. These remarkable photographs, embracing the possibilities of pure, liquid colour, are shown here for the first time. Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, until 30th January.

Revolution On Paper: Mexican Prints 1910 - 1960 is the first exhibition in Europe focusing on the great age of Mexican printmaking in the first half of the 20th century. Between 1910 and 1920 the country was convulsed by the first socialist revolution, from which emerged a strong left-wing government that laid great stress on art as a vehicle for promoting the values of the revolution. This led to a pioneering programme to cover the walls of public buildings with vast murals, and later to setting up print workshops to produce works for mass distribution and education. Some of the finest of these prints were produced by Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, known as 'los tres grandes'. The best known print is Rivera's 'Emiliano Zapata and his Horse', which has achieved iconic status. Other prints, including Rivera's portrait of Frida Kahlo, Siqueiros's 'Dama Negra', and Orozco's 'The Masses', demonstrate the breadth, imagination, and quality of the work. There is a wide range of material, with single-sheet artists' prints, posters with designs in woodcut or lithography, and illustrated books on many different themes. The exhibition also includes earlier works from around the turn of the century by Jose Guadalupe Posada, who was adopted by the revolutionaries as the archetypal printmaker working for the people, and whose works included macabre dancing skeletons. The Taller de Grafica Popular was formed in 1937 by Luis Arenal, Leopoldo Mendez and Pablo O'Higgins as a graphic arts workshop influenced by communism, and Angel Bracho's striking red and black poster 'Victoria!', celebrating the allied victory over the Nazi's, is a key example of the TGP's anti-Fascist stance. British Museum until 28th February.


The Dark Monarch explores the influence of folklore, mysticism, mythology and the occult on the development of art in Britain. Focusing on works from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day, the exhibition considers, in particular, the relationship they have to the landscape and legends of the British Isles. It examines the development of early Modernism, Surrealism and Neo-Romanticism in Britain, as well as the reappearance of esoteric and arcane references in a significant strand of contemporary art practice. The exhibition features works by important modernists and surrealists including Graham Sutherland, Paul Nash, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Ithell Colquhoun; Neo-Romantics such as Cecil Collins, John Piper, Leslie Hurry and John Craxton; as well as emerging and established contemporary artists including Cerith Wyn Evans, Mark Titchner, Eva Rothschild, Simon Periton, Clare Woods, Steven Claydon, John Stezeker, Derek Jarman and Damien Hirst. Exploring the tension between progressive modernity and romantic knowledge, the show focuses on the way the British landscape is encoded with various histories - geological, mythical and magical. It examines magic as a counterpoint to modernity's transparency and rational progress, and also draws out the links modernity has with notions such as fetishism, mana, totem, and the taboo. Formally thought of as opposing Modernism, the careful juxtaposition and selection of works on display suggests that these products of illusion and delusion in fact belong to modernity. Tate St Ives until 10th January.

Ed Ruscha: 50 Years Of Painting is the first major British retrospective to focus on the paintings of one of the most influential and pioneering American artists of the past half century. Spanning Ed Ruscha's entire career, the exhibition features 78 paintings, many on public display for the first time, and reveals Ruscha as a painter whose interests in printed matter, graphic design, cinema, photography, driving, roadside signs, the flat and featureless landscapes of the American West, the city filled with constant visual noise and the phenomenon of human communication, make his elegant and provocative work both playful and subversive. From the start of his career Ruscha began to make paintings in which text and imagery from everyday life converged. By the early 1960s, he was perceived to have to have created a new form of visual landscape, combining typography with commonplace objects. Ruscha is the essential Los Angeles artist, reflecting its sprawling sign filled streets and constant hubbub, with his huge paintings matching its larger than life reputation. He did for gas stations what Warhol did for soup cans. The exhibition reveals the depth and breadth of Ruscha's achievement as a painter, and highlights the conceptual underpinnings of his approach to painting. It also focuses on the incisive portrait of American culture that is presented through his imagery. Over the past half century, Ruscha's art has evolved in unpredictable ways, but the things that first fired his imagination remain the basis for his art. Hayward Gallery until 10th January.

David Chipperfield: Form Matters examines the work of one of Britain's leading contemporary architects, spanning his entire career to date, through new and archive models, sketches, drawings, photographs and film. With a style that is restrained, quiet and thoughtful, David Chipperfield has built a huge international reputation, and completed buildings in China, Japan, Italy, Mexico, USA, Spain and Germany. Chipperfield produces subtle and sophisticated buildings, from museums to homes, with an acute sensitivity for materials, and a powerful awareness of their environment. This comprehensive overview looks at key moments in his development, through 15 major projects, including the River and Rowing Museum at Henley on Thames; the award winning Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach, Germany; the America's Cup Building in Valencia, Spain; the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery; and the recently completed 10 year reconstruction of the Neues Museum in Berlin, bombed during the Second World War and subject to decades of neglect. Design Museum, Shad Thames, London, until 10th January.