News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th January 2007


Classic Soviet Modernist Photographer Max Penson And The Soviet Modernisation Of Uzbekistan 1920-1930s features over 200 photographs by Max Penson, taken between 1920 and 1940, documenting the radical transformation of Uzbekistan from a highly traditional feudal society into a 'modern' Soviet republic. The 20th century history of Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan remained largely hidden until the collapse of communism in the early 1990s. Penson's archive contains roughly 30,000 images taken while he worked as a photographer for Central Asia's largest newspaper, Pravda Vostoka (Truth of the East), from 1926 until 1949. Penson's photographs document the sweeping social transformation that happened during this period, as well as showing an awareness of the Modernist aesthetic being explored by artists throughout Europe. Many of the images are clearly underpinned by a socialist, propagandist agenda, and show an idealisation of life under Soviet rule. However, Penson also sought out his own subjects, who reveal a more realistic picture. Some images depict women in traditional horsehair veils, while in others they wear trousers and drive tractors, previously unheard of tasks for women in this part of the world. Men are shown digging vast irrigation canals, attending literacy classes and watching sporting events or theatrical performances. Accused of being influenced by the West, Penson fell from official favour and was forced to leave his job after 25 years of working at the paper. The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House until 24th February.

Goya: Monsters And Matadors celebrates the work of the artist who, although best known as a painter, was one of the greatest printmakers of all time. Goya's use of the medium was revolutionary, and profoundly influential, and prints and printmaking played a central role in his work throughout his career, during which time he made over 300 works. This exhibition of over 40 prints focuses on etchings from three series: 'Disasters of War', one of the most affecting antiwar statements of all history, depict Napoleon's conquest of Spain, the ensuing civil war and eventual liberation of the country by Wellington, and are very much like a form of war photojournalism - a precursors to later photographic images; 'Tauromaquia', a history of bullfighting from its origins in hunting, to its development by the Moors as a sport; and 'Proverbios (or Disparates)', examining the glorious, absurd and futile rituals of life and death, Spanish style. These works belong to Goya's most intense period of printmaking, from 1810 until the end of his career, combining both etching and lithographic techniques, and present a direct social critique as well as a personal response to the world around him. Unlike his lush, rich painting style and more sedate subject matter, these often violent images shocked many contemporary viewers with their depictions of the seamier side of life. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh until 25th February.

Turner: The Rigi Watercolours brings together for the first time three of JMW Turner's greatest watercolour paintings: 'The Blue Rigi', 'The Dark Rigi' and 'The Red Rigi'. Turner's groundbreaking use of watercolour, which spanned his career, culminated in the early 1840s with a series of views of Swiss lakes and mountains. Chief among these are the three views of Mount Rigi as seen from Lake Lucerne. Each shows the mountain at a different time of day and is characterised by a defining colour or tone: dark, blue or red. 'The Blue Rigi' was Turner's first attempt at recording the moment before dawn when the sun just perceptibly begins to chase away the darkness of night. Using subtly modulated washes of blue, Turner recreates the stillness and wonder of this instant, anticipating by many years the unified tonal approach to image making of the Aesthetic Movement. Although Turner probably intended these watercolours to remain together as studies in contrasting atmospheric effects, they were sold to separate collectors. This exhibition reunites them, together with Turner's preparatory material for the Rigi series, including a sequence of sketchbooks and watercolour studies that highlight the many hours of observation and contemplation that lie behind the finished works, and reveal the artist's complete creative process. 'The Blie Rigi' was sold at auction last year to an overseas buyer, and the Art Fund has until 20th March to raise matching funding to keep it in Britain. Tate Britain until 24th March.


A Victorian Master: Drawings By Frederic, Lord Leighton marks the completion of the conservation and cataloguing one of the largest collections of drawings by a single Victorian artist, comprising some 715 works. The painter and sculptor, Frederic, Lord Leighton, was one of the great draughtsmen of the 19th century, and the collection of his drawings began to be assembled immediately after his death. Uniquely, the collection is located in his former home, where many of the drawings were made. Over 60 examples of drawings and oil sketches as preparations for his paintings have been selected for this exhibition, many of which have not been seen for more than 50 years. The drawings trace a journey through Leighton's life and career, focussing on three particular periods of his work: the six weeks spent in Capri in 1859, when Leighton produced his celebrated 'Study of a Lemon Tree'; studio work of 1877, the mid point of his career; and the last years before his death, including his final emotive painting 'Clytie', displayed alongside its oil sketch studies for the first time. Subjects cover a wide range, including nature - 'Study of an Oleander and a Tuberose', landscapes - 'Capri at Sunrise', architecture - 'Vaulted Loggia at the Villa Madama', portraits - Dorothy Dene, and studies after classical paintings and sculpture. Leighton House Museum, London until 25th February.

Experimental Photography From The Bauhaus Sculpture Workshop showcases a collection of remarkable and little seen vintage photographs, which explore how innovative photographic practice became central to the Bauhaus Weimar Germany. The sculpture workshop was a somewhat anomalous element of the influential Bauhaus school of art and design, seemingly out of touch with its unapologetically modernist outlook. Photography provided a way out of this impasse. Led by Joost Schmidt, a former Bauhaus student, the new sculpture workshop emerged in 1928 as an experimental arena with photography at the centre of its practice. Such photography went far beyond a documentary relationship to sculptural objects, instead, sparking a dialogue over the nature and function of sculpture in modernity. Photography also proved a bridge between the esoteric traditions of sculpture and the materiality of mass culture by using photographs of sculpture for visual display and advertising. These strange and beautiful images became works of art in themselves. The 26 photographs presented in this exhibition include a mix of studio scenes and still lifes, abstract explorations of space, volume and perception, film noir stills, and studies and designs for advertising and exhibition stands, with works by Franz Ehrlich and Heinz Loew, Edmund Collein and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy amongst others. Henry Moore Institute, Leeds until 18th February.

Barbed Wit: Italian Satire Of The Great War presents rarely viewed original artwork for postcards produced in Italy during the Great War, displaying bold designs, biting satire, and a specifically Italian slant on wartime propaganda. 36 highly coloured original designs by little known artists are exhibited alongside a selection of corresponding monochromatic postcards, revealing the mass produced outcome beside the original design. Postcards enjoyed a golden age in the first decade of the 20th century, and in addition to the newspapers, formed an important part of the social and political commentary on events of the Great War.

The artists featured in this exhibition used a variety of different satirical devices including personification, caricature and bestialisation to create a sophisticated, shrewd and visually appealing commentary on Italy's changing involvement in the conflict. Italy was at first undecided, with Virgilio Retrosi's red faced Italian infantryman pondering whether to follow a signpost to the 'European Theatre' titled 'Shall I just be an extra or take a starring role?'; she then joined Germany and Austria-Hungary, reflected in the Futurist Gino Severini's, semi-abstract, 'Dynamic Vision of Befana', which merges the national colours of France, Belgium and Germany, together with bullets, shrapnel and interspersed wording such as 'misery' and 'snow'; she then became neutral, before finally changing sides to join the Triple Entente against her former allies. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London, until 18th March.

Art For The Nation traces Britain's long and defining relationship with the sea, reflecting British Maritime heritage, in commerce exploration and empire, as interpreted by the nation's greatest artists. As well as marine painting, subjects cover portraiture, history painting and landscape, treating the themes of encounter, colonialism and global exploration, shipwreck, battle and spectacle, as well as personality and the cult of the hero. Among some 200 paintings are portraits by Joshua Reynolds, whose full length portrait of Augustus Keppel established his career, Thomas Gainsborough's 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Francis Rigaud's Horatio Nelson, George Romney's Emma Hamilton, and Wiliam Hogarth's cabin scene with Lord George Graham; landscapes from William Hodges's '(Cascade Cove) Dusky Bay' and 'A View of Point Venus and Matavai Bay, looking east' from his record of Cook's second voyage in the Pacific, to Canaletto's 'Greenwich Hospital from the North Bank of the Thames'; and marine paintings including Charles Brooking's 'An English Vice-Admiral of the Red and his Squadron at Sea', 'An East Indiaman in a Fresh Breeze' and 'Greenland Fishery: English Whalers in the Ice', Eugene Boudin's 'Trouville, Awaiting the Tide', and William van de Velde the Younger's 'A Dutch Ship Scudding Before a Storm', 'A Royal Visit to the Fleet in the Thames Estuary' and 'An English Ship in Action with Barbary Corsairs'. Queen's House, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich until 2nd September.

London Before And After The Great Fire: Etchings by Wenceslaus Holler 1607-1677 features work by the artist to whom we owe much of our knowledge about London's appearance before the Great Fire. Wenceslaus Hollar was a prolific artist of buildings and street scenes, who also excelled at drawing maps, panoramas, portraits and costume. This display comprises over 40 of his etchings, including his four large panoramas of Westminster, the City, Greenwich, and the ruins of the 1666 fire - all masterpieces. Hollar's Great Map of London was sadly never completed, but the only surviving sheet, showing Covent Garden and the Strand, is an unrivalled example of a mid 17th century 'map-view', where every building is shown in bird's-eye perspective. He delighted in intricate detail as well as the big picture: close inspection of his London etchings reveals beggars in the streets of Bankside, archers in the fields of Clerkenwell, and men clambering on to platforms to view a Tower Hill execution. Holler's work provides a unique and invaluable record of London during times of catastrophe, and great political and social change. Guildhall Library Print Room, Aldermanbury, London EC2, until 12th May.

Snowdomes is a celebration of tourism's single greatest contribution to popular culture, featuring an eclectic mix of historical, contemporary and newly commissioned work inspired by these popular miniatures and curiosities. Highlights include: one of the original snowdomes, invented by a manufacturer who encased ceramic models of the brand new Eiffel Tower in palm sized glass globes, magnified with water and fake snow, as souvenirs of the 1889 Paris Expo; an installation of 450 snowdomes from Nancy McMichael's collection of over 5,000, designed by Michael Davies; radically divergent new works commissioned from Anne Brodie, Kamini Chahaun, Richard Clegg, Mat Collishaw, Robert Doisneau, David Emerick, Len Horsey, Sarah Woodfine and Simon Woolham; Julian Germain's photo biography of 11 snowdome enthusiasts from around the world with their collections; a 'living snowdome' - a magical, engaging, visual and sensory experience by fashion designer Gareth Pugh; plus several individual personal collections, and a wide range of snowdome memorabilia. National Glass Centre, Sunderland until 4th March.


The Past From Above: Through The Lens Of Georg Gerster presents over 100 aerial photographs of archaeological and heritage sites from across the globe taken by the Swiss photographer Georg Gerster. These images range from natural phenomena such as Uluru in Australia, to man made wonders such as the Ziggurat of Ur in Iraq, or the Great Wall of China, providing a 'world tour' of the great monuments of human civilisation. These unique images reveal the scale of mankind's achievements, as well as highlighting the complex relationship between culture and nature - humans have shaped nature but are also shaped by it. To provide insights into these people, the exhibition also features objects displayed alongside some of the photographs, which help to complete the picture of the civilizations and the monuments that defined them. A stone hand-axe, one of the earliest objects made by humans from the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, is on view beside a photograph of the site; a Mummy portrait by an image of the Kharga Oasis; and a seated Buddhist goddess next to a shot of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. The objects personalise these imposing sites, re-emphasising the part humans played in their construction or, in some cases, destruction. The photographs also serve as reminders of the transience of culture and civilizations. In many instances the photographs are a reminder of times that have passed, beliefs that have faded, and empires that have crumbled. From a career spanning over 45 years, Georg Gerster has a collection of over 8,000 such aerial photographs, taken in more than 50 countries. The British Museum until 11th February.

The Old Order And The New: P H Emerson And Photography (1885 - 1895) showcases the work of photographer Peter Henry Emerson, which combined new techniques and technology in a bid to record and preserve the traditional life of East Anglia at the end of the 19th century. Emerson invented a new type of art photography, called 'naturalism', which used soft focus to show things as natural eyesight sees them. To get the ideal picture, other photographers often took several photographs and combined the best parts into one image in the darkroom. Emerson believed a photograph should be made in one instant, and that the most important thing to capture was the action of light, even if mist or haze might make everything slightly out of focus. He used the new mechanical printing process of photogravure (an image produced photo mechanically using printer's ink rather than a chemical process), through which photographs can look like etchings. Emerson believed that photography could be art - he took all the photographs, but his artist friend T F Goodall sometimes helped choose subjects. The resulting images had much in common with landscape and countryside genre paintings of the time. All his photographs tell a story. They centre on portraits of local 'characters', capturing both their manner of dress and their rural crafts, and the open empty landscapes and big skies of East Anglia, both of which were soon to alter irrevocably with the encroachment of industry. National Media Museum until 4th February.

Britannia & Muscovy: English Silver At The Court Of The Tsars offers a unique opportunity to see some of the most important surviving 16th and 17th century English silver, together with Russian gold and silver of the same period, preserved in the Kremlin's Armoury Museum. The relationship between English monarchs from Elizabeth I to Charles II and Russian Tsars from Ivan the Terrible to Alexey Mikhaylovich was a close one, and silver pieces and richly adorned weapons were prominent amongst diplomatic gifts. The silver in the Kremlin avoided being melted down, the fate of much English silver during the English Civil War, and so remains to give an insight into the opulence of Elizabethan and Jacobean court life. Among the English highlights are a gilded silver heraldic leopard vessel over three feet high; a unique silver-gilt perfuming pot and stand; a silver-gilt ewer over two feet high, its handle in the form of a serpent, its spout a winged dragon and the lower half of the body finely engraved with Tudor roses and thistles; and a pair of presentation belt pistols with barrels elaborately decorated in steel, mother-of-pearl and damascened gold. Russian treasures include a gold 'kovsh', a traditional vessel set with rubies, sapphires and pearls; a gold cup adorned with large precious stones and enamel; an elaborately chased, carved and gilded 'bratina' or loving cup; and an icon of the Virgin of Vladimir, with a silver cover profusely decorated with sapphires, emeralds, turquoise and pearls. Shown alongside these historical treasures are some examples of contemporary Russian gold and silver ware. Gilbert Collection, Somerset House until 28th January.