News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th August 2005


The Stuff Of Life is an exhibition of still lifes from the 16th century to the present day, showing how everyday items and interiors have inspired artists. It focuses on the depiction and meaning of objects in art, where even the most ordinary objects can carry the most extraordinary significance. The inclusion of objects in portraits can suggest the interests and achievements of their subjects or act as attributes to identify a saint or hero. Van Gogh's 'Chair' with its pipe and tobacco pouch is a disguised self portrait; the spare still life of a rose, cup of water and silver plate by the Spanish painter Zurbaran can be read as an image of the Virgin Mary; while Peter Blake's collection of miniature alcohol bottles stands as a symbolic portrait of Damien Hirst. As this exhibition shows, objects in paintings always suggest some meaning, whether derived from their use, appearance and context, or their symbolic resonance. Also included in this show are many extraordinary demonstrations of painterly skill. In both Van Mieris's 'A Woman and a Fish-pedlar in a Kitchen' and Steenwyck's 'Still Life: An Allegory of the Vanities of Human Life', no brushstroke is visible and the different textures of fur, feathers, fish, cloth, metal and glass are miraculously rendered. Some paintings mimic reality itself, such as 'The Old Cupboard Door' by the 19th century American artist William Harnett, perhaps the greatest trompe l'oeil painting in Britain, as well as Gavin Turk's contemporary 'Bag', a perfectly rendered and painted bronze cast of a black bin bag. National Gallery until 2nd October.

The Mating Game examines some of the most bizarre and beautiful courtship behaviours found in the animal world. The exhibition looks at the different senses animals use to locate a mate, and the methods they employ to win them over, from colour and sound, to unusual acrobatics and gift giving. It uses real animal specimens and 'interactives' - where visitors can guess the animal by the smell and sound it produces. Animals that live over a wide area rely on sound to find a mate. Male and female elephants live independently for most of their adult lives, so females emit a series of powerful low-pitched calls, which can be heard up to four kilometres away. Whales also communicate over huge distances, and the song of the humpbacked whale can be heard underwater hundreds of kilometres away. Lasting up to 30 minutes, it is the longest and most complex song known in the animal world. Sight is frequently used to attract and identify potential mates and colourful displays are most dramatically seen among fish, reptiles and birds. Although most mammals rely on smell and are less colourful, the male mandrill, a type of baboon, is a notable exception, with blue and red markings on the body of the most dominant male, which attracts females and repels junior males. Other animals resort to bribery in order to attract a mate, by giving gifts. A male tern starts his courtship by bringing the female a small fish, held crosswise in his beak, demonstrating his ability to provide for her and for their future offspring. Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring until 27th November.

Henri Cartier-Bresson is the largest and most comprehensive retrospective of work by the legendary French photographer ever staged in Britain, featuring over 200 photographs. Cartier-Bresson had an early passion for Surrealism, and in the 1920s trained as a painter. He began taking photographs as a hobby in Africa in 1931, continuing on his return to Europe, before travelling to New York and Mexico, and from the mid 1930s began to be exhibited and published. A reticent figure who craved anonymity, he never staged photographs, instead he waited for what he famously called the 'decisive moment', when the click of the camera captures a moment of unexpected drama. This technique even applied in his portraits, with spontaneous pictures of Arthur Miller, Francis Bacon, Pierre-August Renoir, Samuel Beckett, Henri Matisse and Jean-Paul Sartre. Cartier-Bresson was a great photojournalist, covering many seminal events of 20th century history, including the Spanish Civil War, the liberation of Paris, and Mao's takeover of Beijing. However, it was in his capturing of the minutiae of everyday life, such as the man leaping over a huge puddle behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, revealing the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary, which made him one of the most influential photographers of the century. A selection of Cartier-Bresson's drawings from the 1970s and 1980s is also included in the exhibition, alongside scrapbooks, original books and reviews, and photographs of Cartier-Bresson taken by friends, together with his beloved Leica camera. Dean Gallery Edinburgh until 23rd October.


Inside The Spitfire: Personal Stories Of Britain's Most Famous Plane is an exhibition about the legendary British fighter aircraft of the Second World War, and its designer R J Mitchell, marking the 65th anniversary of the turning point of the Battle of Britain. A 'deconstructed' Spitfire‚ displayed in pieces, and stripped down to its original structure‚ offers a once in a lifetime view of this icon of design and engineering. Like a giant 'Airfix kit', the display shows the complexity inside the apparently simple elegant Spitfire shape‚ revealing the Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffon engines, alongside enlargements of original blueprints and cutaway drawings. In addition, the exhibition examines the background to Mitchell's creation‚ showing the human‚ industrial and social stories behind the design‚ manufacture and success of the Spitfire. It does this through the personal stories of the people who built‚ maintained and flew the aircraft, with letters‚ mementos‚ papers‚ security passes‚ medals‚ models and rare photographs from the Castle Bromwich Spitfire factory, as well as transcriptions of personal accounts. The exhibition also includes a specially commissioned statue of R J Mitchell‚ and traces his career at the Supermarine aircraft company in Southampton from 1917 to his death in 1937. The aircraft has been loaned by the RAF Museum, on whose behalf The Aircraft Restoration Company in Duxford is currently restoring it - and will be putting it back together again after the exhibition is over. Science Museum until January

Avant Garde Graphics: 1918-34 celebrates the 'heroic' period of modernity in the European arts - between the Russian Revolution and the arrival of Fascism in Germany - that found particularly forceful expression in graphic design and photomontage. The advance of the machine age brought mass production and distribution, which inspired new forms of artistic expression and a new sense of internationalism. New techniques allowed a fusion of typography, painting and photography - not to mention colour - for artistic, commercial or political ends, evoking the dynamism and fragmentation of cinema. This exhibition includes rare ground breaking posters, prints, book designs and political and commercial ephemera, together with original layouts and photomontages. It shows works by artists related to the Dutch de Stijl group, the German Bauhaus, and the Constructivists of Russia and Central Europe. These include Jean Arp, Herbert Bayer, Willi Baumeister, Theo van Doesburg, Georg Grosz, John Heartfield, Hannah Hoch, Gustav Klucis, El Lissitzky, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Liubov Popova, Alexandr Rodchenko, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Schwitters, Georgii Stenberg and Vladimir Stenberg, Soloman Telingater and Piet Zwart. The exhibition is drawn from the collection of Merrill C Berman, one of the greatest collections of 20th century graphics in the world. Kettle's Yard, Cambridge until 25th September.

Max Klinger showcases the work of one of the most inventive artists of the 19th century, the major part of whose artistic output was etchings. Klinger believed that this work, drawn and without colour, was more effective in conveying figments of the imagination than painting, which he considered to be too realistic. This exhibition comprises five series of Klinger's etchings, principally 'The Glove', consisting of ten etchings featuring a glove. First it makes its appearance at a roller-skating rink, being worn and then dropped by an elegant woman. Then it becomes the crucial motif for various dream and nightmare scenarios - in a bedroom merged with an ominous symbolic landscape, tossed about on a stormy sea, carried away by a winged monster, lying under a wilting rose next to a small cupid-like figure and so on. The other four series also combine scenes of everyday life with flights into realms of extraordinary imagination and fantasy. They postulate that at any moment gaps might open up in our daily routines, plunging us into unfamiliar and uncontrollable circumstances, sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful and dark. To coincide with this exhibition, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery is exhibiting Klinger's 'On Death (Part II)', a sequence of etchings that reveal him at the height of his powers as a draughtsman and visual narrator, obsessively interested in the theme of death; and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is showing a selection of work by Klinger and other nineteenth century German artists. Ikon, and other galleries, Birmingham, all until 18th September.

The Houses Of Parliament are again open to visitors during the summer recess. The tour follows the processional route taken by the Queen when she performs the State Opening of Parliament. From the Sovereign's Entrance in the Victoria Tower, it passes through the Queen's Robing Room, the Royal Gallery, hung with portraits of monarchs past and present, and the Prince's Chamber, decorated with scenes from the reigns of the Tudors, before entering the red and gold elegance of the House of Lords, with the Royal Throne and Lord Chancellor's woolsack. Leaving the Lords via the Central Lobby, the tour passes through the Members Lobby and one of the two Division Lobbies before entering the House of Commons, with the Speaker's chair and ministers' dispatch boxes. Leaving the Commons, the tour passes through St Stephen's Hall, site of the original House of Commons, before ending in Westminster Hall, with its 14th century hammerbeam roof, where the trials of Charles I and Guy Fawkes were conducted. The Hall currently houses an exhibition marking the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot. The Houses of Parliament incorporate the remaining parts of the Palace of Westminster, the principal residence of the kings of England from the middle of the 11th century until 1512. The layout of the Palace is intricate, with its existing buildings containing nearly 1,200 rooms, 100 staircases and well over 2 miles of passages. Further information can be found on the Parliament web site via the link opposite. Houses of Parliament until 5th October.

Wolves, Princesses And Dragons: Wildlife And Fantasy Art showcases around 50 pieces of artwork by fantasy artist Geoff Taylor. They range across the three genres for which Taylor is best known: wildlife paintings of wolves, fantasy artwork for book covers, and illustrations for the sci-fantasy role playing gaming company Games Workshop, and its White Dwarf magazine. The show includes images created for Jeff Wayne's concept album for a musical version of HG Wells's 'The War of The Worlds'; pen and ink drawing illustrations of Wolf from the book 'Wolf Brother' by Michelle Paver; White Dwarf magazine covers High Elf with Dragon, Man O'War and Space Wolves; illustrations from all three books in JRR Tolkein's 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy; and covers for books by Raymond E Feist, including the Rift War, Krondor and Empire series, Katharine Kerr, including the Time series, and David Eddings, together with covers for books by children's authors such as Cliff McNish, Kevin Crossley-Holland and Diana Wynne-Jones. The Dock Museum, Barrow in Furness until 16th October.

The Cambridge Illuminations: Ten Centuries Of Book Production In The Medieval West is a two venue exhibition of over 200 illuminated manuscripts dating from 6th to the 16th centuries, many on public view for the first time. Sacred and secular, scientific and humanistic, historical and literary, the range of manuscripts on display showcases the work of some of the greatest medieval and Renaissance illuminators, and includes commissions by the most celebrated patrons of learning and art, including the Kings of France and England, the Dukes of Burgundy and the Medici. Among the highlights are the 6th century 'Gospels of St Augustine', the earliest medieval illuminated manuscript known in this country, over which new Archbishops of Canterbury still swear their oaths; the 13th century Trinity 'Apocalypse', the largest and most sumptuously illuminated of all English Apocalypses; the Peterborough Bestiary, the Free Warren Charter, and Statutes of England from Henry III to Richard II, as well as numerous books of hours, bestiaries, Bibles, encyclopaedias, scientific and mathematical manuscripts, university foundation charters, and historical, mythological and geographical treatises. An entire gallery is devoted to the display of individual leaves from the renowned Macclesfield Psalter, produced around 1330, and recently saved for the nation, providing a unique opportunity to see the richness and variety of its illustrations, using precious pigments and gold. They combine devotional imagery with depictions of every day life and grotesque creations of the wildest imagination. The Fitzwilliam Museum and Cambridge University Library, Cambridge until 11th December.


Francis Bacon: Portraits And Heads explores in depth Bacon's vivid portraits of friends, lovers, other artists - and himself. With over 50 works, it demonstrates Bacon's attempt to revitalise the art of portraiture after the Second World War. The show comprises small single heads from the late 1940s, echoing the imagery of 'Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion', the painting that launched his career; a group of large single portraits from the 1950s, some full length, in which the human figure is depicted as an integrated whole; and from the 1960s, slightly under life size close ups of well known Soho figures, such as Lucian Freud, Henrietta Moraes, Isabel Rawsthorne, Peter lacy and George Dyer. Beginning with 'Study for Three Heads', these small canvasses, usually 14 inches by 12 inches, are often grouped in threes. This format - the triptych - gave Bacon the opportunity to show three different aspects of the same personality, or contrasting images of two or more different people, sometimes including himself. The exhibition also features a number of full length portraits from the 1960s, with subjects standing, seated or reclining. Bacon increasingly became the main subject of his art, and he is seen in a variety of roles and states, from combative and self assured to spectral and faint near the end of his life. National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh until 4th September.

Diane Maclean: Sculpture And Works On Paper is an unusual attempt by the environmental artist Diane Maclean to convey the sights and sounds that occur deep within the Earth. Eighteen metres long, and composed of eleven separate vertical shafts, a stainless steel outdoor sculpture known as 'Mountain' rises six metres high, with a 'canyon' at the centre, through which visitors can wander. The shafts are inspired by mineral composition, and reveal the molecular and crystal structure of the Earth, showing the beautiful aesthetic qualities of minerals. The sculpture's highly reflective angular steel facets are reminiscent of the surfaces of the cut gemstones and natural crystals it relates to. Peepholes in Mountain show highly magnified photographic images on paper, taken through high-powered microscopes, revealing the composition of minerals such as aerinite, and those found in a newly discovered Martian meteorite. An audio installation within the canyon space allows sounds of geological processes that occur within the planet to echo through the sculpture, adding to the atmosphere of walking through a part natural, part man made cavern. Natural History Museum until 4th September.

The American West offers the first opportunity for Britain to view an extensive collection of rarely seen historical material from an era that continues to hold a global fascination, bound up with myths arising from European expansion across North America. The exhibition also brings this mythology up to date, exploring the cowboy culture that has emerged from the election of the current incumbent of the White House. In telling a series of visual stories it reveals how the west was really won, exploring themes such as invasion and genocide; frontiersmen; captivity narratives; the first official Indian wars; Native American encounters with white settlers and the U.S. army; natural resources and environment, and Hollywood and the cowboy. Included in the exhibition are historical depictions of the subject by Charles M Russell, Arthur Tait, Charles Schreyvogel and Alfred Jacob Miller; 19th century Plains Indian Ledger drawings; art and craft made by Indian prisoners, works by contemporary Native North American artists including Minerva Cuevas, Kent Monkman, Edward Poitras, James Luna and Cisco Jimenez; and interpretations on the theme by Ed Ruscha, Elaine Reichek, Luigi Ontani and Ed Kienholz. In addition, the exhibition contains a diverse selection of historic ephemera from popular culture, including documentation relating to Buffalo Bill's roadshow, period photographs, dime novels, billboards, film posters and John Fitzgerald Kennedy's presentation colt gun. Compton Verney until 29th August.