Private View held by Richard Andrews
Ming: 50 Years That Changed China explores a pivotal period that transformed China during the rule of the Ming dynasty. In the years between 1400 and 1450 in China bureaucrats replaced military leaders in the hierarchy of power, the emperor's role changed from autocrat to icon, and the decision was taken to centralise, rather than devolve, power. China's internal transformation and connections with the rest of the world led to a flourishing of creativity from what was, at the time, the only global superpower, evidenced here through gold, silver, paintings, porcelains, sculpture, ceramics, silk hanging scrolls, weapons, costumes, furniture and textiles. This is the first exhibition to explore the great social and cultural changes in China that established Beijing as a capital city and the building of the Forbidden City - still the national emblem on coins and military uniforms today. As well as the imperial court, the exhibition focuses on archaeological finds from three regional princely tombs: in Sichuan, Shandong and Hubei covering southwest, northeast and central China. Four emperors ruled China in this period, and the exhibition includes the sword of the Yongle Emperor, "the warrior"; the handwriting of the Hongxi emperor, "the bureaucrat";the paintings of the Xuande emperor, "the aesthete"; and portraits of the officials who ruled while the Zhengtong emperor was a boy. In addition to the costumes of the princes, their gold and jewellery, and furniture, the exhibition also covers court life, the military, culture, beliefs, trade and diplomacy. British Museum until 5th January.
The Influence Of Furniture On Love is an exhibition of works made in response to the rooms of a 17th century farmhouse by a selection of artists who have stayed there. The title of the exhibition is taken from an unpublished essay by the economist John Maynard Keynes entitled "Can we consume our surplus or the influence of furniture on love", discussing whether it is possible for the rooms within which we live to "suggest to us thoughts and feelings and occupations". The Grade II Listed farmhouse, which was built reputedly from timbers of ships salvaged from the sinking of the Spanish Armada in 1588, has hosted many hundreds of artists since the Wysing organisation was founded 25 years ago. Artists live, sleep and eat there, and together they discuss the works that they are developing during residencies and retreats. The exhibition features works by An Endless Supply, Ruth Beale, Juliette Blightman, Ben Brierley, Céline Condorelli, Jessie Flood-Paddock, Luca Frei, Gil Leung, Seb Patane, Florian Roithmayr, Phil Root, Laure Prouvost, Cally Spooner, The Grantchester Pottery, Philomene Pirecki , Elizabeth Price, Mark Aerial Waller, Neal White and Lisa Wilkens. Wysing Arts Centre, Fox Road, Bourne, Cambridge, until 2nd November.
A World To Win - Posters Of Protest And Revolution looks at a century of posters agitating for political change. From the 'Votes for Women' campaigns of the early 20th century, through campus demonstrations in the 1960s, to the recent 'Occupy' movements, political activists around the world have used posters to mobilise, educate and organise. Making or displaying a poster is in itself a means of taking political action, while for many social and political movements posters have represented an important form of cultural output. Themes of protest and political participation have gained a powerful contemporary resonance in the wake of the Arab Spring and the global financial crisis. This display of posters, bills, placards and polemical papers covers a century particularly redolent with protest. The imagery of radicalism goes beyond political party or ideology, and at times, adversaries use the same motifs. For instance, propaganda by the Nazis, the Soviets, and later the Hungarian revolutionaries employ strikingly similar images of hulking labourers smashing up the establishment. A section on 'subvertising' exhibits protesters' doctoring or parodying of corporate logos to administer a good kicking to multinational companiess. This display is a quiet reminder of the power of clever design. Victoria & Albert Museum until 2nd November.
Maps To Memorials - Exploring The Work Of MacDonald Gill examines the career of a man who produced a captivating and innovative range of graphic design in many forms, across the first half of the 20th century. The exhibition features rarely seen original artwork, maps and posters by MacDonald (Max) Gill, a master of graphic art and design, including pen-and-ink drawings, designs and papers recently unearthed at Gill's family home. The younger brother of the sculptor and typographer Eric Gill, Max was best known for his decorative maps, but he was also an architect, a graphic designer and a decorator of interiors. Having studied under the calligrapher Edward Johnston, he became a master of hand lettering, with designs included book jackets, heraldic emblems, memorial inscriptions and architectural drawings. They ranged in size from a postage stamp to a 200ft long mural. His work as a commercial artist spans the years between the start of the First World War and the end of the Second World War, a period when advertising became accepted as an art form in its own right. Gill is best known for creating the first diagrammatic tube map, and his London Wonderground poster series, offering early tube travelers detailed depictions of street life in a style reminiscent of medieval maps. However, his more permanent memorial is his creation of the font for the headstones on the white British war graves that have memorialised the fallen since the First World War. The Roman typeface was drawn with longevity in mind, cut at a deeper 60-degree angle and with much tighter serifs, so the letters would still be legible after years of being battered by the elements The Lettering Arts Centre, Snape Maltings, Snape, Suffolk, until 12th November.
Frank Auerbach: Paintings And Drawings From The Lucian Freud Estate offers the first public view of the most significant private collection of paintings and drawings by one of Britain's greatest living artists. The works by Frank Auerbach were collected by the painter Lucian Freud throughout his life and hung in his house in London until his death in 2011. The works on display span Auerbach's career from his student days in the late 1940s up to 2007. Auerbach repeatedly returned to the same subjects over decades, constantly finding new and different ways to explore the indefinable qualities and raw sensations stimulated by the forms and structures he sees. The collection encompasses two subjects to which he has constantly returned: landscapes of London and portraits of friends and relatives of the artist who have sat for Auerbach for long periods of time. It also includes a group of five sketches, including birthday cards which show the friendship and respect that Auerbach and Freud had for each other. The portraits comprise works on paper of an intimate group of sitters, mainly of Estella (Stella) Olive West, his principal model between the early 1950s and 1973, and his wife Julia. The landscapes feature subjects such as 'Rebuilding the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square', showing Auerbach's interest in the rebuilding of London in the post war years; and 'Mornington Crescent - Winter Morning', charged with the zigzagging energy of the moving clouds and bare trees. Tate Britain until 9th November.
Late Turner - Painting Set Free reassess the extraordinary body of work during the final period of Britain's greatest painter, when some of his most celebrated paintings were created. The exhibition begins in 1835, the year that Joseph Mallord William Turner reached 60, and closes with his last exhibits at the Royal Academy in 1850. It demonstrates how his closing years were a time of exceptional energy and vigour, initiated by one of his most extensive tours of Europe. The show includes iconic works such as 'Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus', 'The Wreck Buoy', 'Heidelberg: Sunset' and 'Peace - Burial at Sea'. Rather than focusing on any assumptions about the pessimism of old age, Turner maintained his commitment to the observation of nature. He brought renewed energy to the exploration of the social, technological and scientific developments of modern life, in works such as 'Rain, Steam, and Speed - The Great Western Railway'. He also continued to engage with the religious and historical themes that linked him to the cultural traditions of his era, such as 'The Angel Standing in the Sun'. Turner consciously developed his style and technique with each subsequent painting he produced. These works were often poised equivocally between finished and unfinished, for example in a series of reworkings in oil of subjects originally published as prints in his 'Liber Studiorum'. From pictures of the whaling industry in the 1840s to 'sample studies' and finished watercolours such as 'The Blue Rigi, Sunrise', Turner constantly sought to demonstrate his appeal to new admirers. Featuring many large-scale oil paintings alongside drawings, prints and watercolour, the exhibition addresses the sheer range of materials and techniques Turner embraced, and demonstrates his radicalism. Tate Britain until 11th January.
Lee Bul is the first solo show in Britain of works by the contemporary South Korean artist. This survey of early drawings, studies, sculptural pieces and installations showcases the visually compelling and intellectually sharp works that have established Lee Bul as one of the most important artists of her generation. Early street performance-based pieces saw Lee Bul wearing full-body soft sculptures that were both alluring and grotesque. Her later female 'Cyborg' sculptures of the 1990s drew upon art history, critical theory, science fiction and popular imagination to explore anxieties arising out of dysfunctional technological advances, whilst simultaneously harking back to icons of classical sculpture. Lee Bul's recent works include sculptures suspended like chandeliers, elaborate assemblages that glimmer with crystal beads, chains and mirrors, poignantly evoke castles in the air. The sculptures reflect utopian architectural schemes of the early 20th century as well as images of totalitarianism from Lee Bul's early experiences. 'Mon grand recit: Weep into stones …' with its mountainous topography is reminiscent of skyscrapers. Scaffolding supports several scale model structures: a looping highway made of bent plywood, a tiny Tatlin's Monument, a modernist staircase that features in Fellini's La Dolce Vita, and an upturned cross-section of the Hagia Sophia. A new work 'After Bruno Taut (Devotion to Drift)' is a suspended sculpture, dripping with an excess of crystalline shapes and glass beads, referencing the exponential growth and unsustainability of the modern world. Ikon Gallery, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, until 9th November.
Horst: Photographer Of Style is a retrospective of the work of one of the leading photographers of the 20th century. In an illustrious 60 year career, German-born Horst P Horst worked predominantly in Paris and New York, creatively traversing the worlds of photography, art, fashion, design, theatre and high society. The exhibition comprises 250 photographs, alongside haute couture garments, magazines, film footage and ephemera, including previously unpublished vintage black and white prints and 94 Vogue covers. The display explores Horst's collaborations and friendships with leading couturiers such as Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli in Paris; stars including Marlene Dietrich and Noel Coward; and artists and designers such as Salvador Dalí and Jean-Michel Frank. It also reveals lesser-known aspects of Horst's work: nude studies, travel photographs from the Middle East and patterns created from natural forms. Detailed studies of natural forms such as flowers, minerals, shells and butterfly wings from the project 'Patterns From Nature', are shown alongside kaleidoscopic collages made by arranging photographs in simple repeat, used as designs for textiles, wallpaper, carpets, plastics and glass. A selection of 25 large colour photographs, newly printed from the original transparencies demonstrating Horst's exceptional skill as a colourist are shown together with preparatory sketches that have never previously been exhibited. The creative process behind some of his most famous photographs, such as the 'Mainbocher Corset', are revealed through the inclusion of original contact sheets, sketches and cameras, and the many sources that influenced Horst - from ancient Classical art to Bauhaus ideals of modern design and Surrealism in 1930s Paris - are explored. Victoria & Albert Museum until 4th January..
Virginia Woolf: Art, Life And Vision explores the life and achievements of one of Britain's most important and celebrated writers of the 20th century. Virginia Woolf was a very significant thinker, who played a pivotal role at the heart of modernism. The exhibition, featuring over 140 items, comprising painted portraits, sculpture, photographs, drawings, personal objects and rare archival material, explores her achievements as a novelist, intellectual, campaigner and public figure. The display looks at Woolf's early life, literary interests, her fascination with London, awareness of modernity, and her developing feminist and political views. These are brought into focus through letters to and from her friends and acquaintances, extracts from her personal diaries, and original books that were first printed through the Hogarth Press, which she founded with Leonard Woolf in 1917. Highlights of the display include portraits of Woolf by her Bloomsbury Group contemporaries, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Roger Fry; a collection of photographs by Beresford, Man Ray, and Beck and McGregor who photographed her for Vogue; one of Picasso's 'Weeping Woman' drawings created specifically for a Spanish Civil War fundraising event in which Woolf took part; and the letters that she wrote to her sister and to her husband shortly before she died. The exhibition also features portraits of those she was closest to, including a selection of intimate photographs recording her time spent with friends, family and literary peers. National Portrait Gallery until 26th October.
Louis Kahn: The Power Of Architecture is an assessment of the visionary architect, expert manipulator of form and light, and creator of uniquely dramatic buildings. The exhibition explores Louis Kahn's work and legacy through architectural models, original drawings, notebooks, travel sketches, photographs and films, bringing to life his singular career and diverse output. Although regarded as one of America's foremost architects, Kahn nonetheless realised few buildings in his lifetime and died practically bankrupt, but his search for an architecture that grows out of a sense of place seems more important than ever. Kahn drew on a wide range of sources, from ancient ruins to the work of Le Corbusier, using innovations in construction techniques to design modern buildings that also project an elemental, primitive power. He was a perfectionist and an artist, who also believed that architects have an important social responsibility. All of Kahn's important projects are extensively documented, from his early urban planning concepts and single-family houses to late works such as the Roosevelt Memorial, not completed until after his death. Kahn's greatest masterpieces all take the form of inspiring institutions: The Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, designed to be 'a facility worthy of a visit by Picasso'; the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, a showcase for his ability to work with light; and the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, testament to the impact of his monumental style. Design Museum, Shad Thames, London, until 12th October.
Time: Tattoo Art Today features original artworks by some of the world's most influential contemporary tattoo artists. The exhibition presents specially commissioned works from 70 tattoo artists including Ed Hardy, Horiyoshi III, Paul Booth, Rose Hardy, Chris Garver, Ami James, Morg, Theo Mindell, Fillip Leu and Mister Cartoon, curated by fellow tattoo artist Claudia De Sabe and publisher Miki Vialetto. Each artist created a completely new work on the theme of Time, working with any medium and on any canvas apart from their usual surface of skin. The resulting collection ranges from oil painting, watercolours and traditional Japanese silk painting to paint layering on real skulls, airbrush and bronze sculpture. Time and all it infers (such as life and death) is a classic, common motif in tattoo art, expressed through a vast variety of iconographic combinations. For example, the popular inkings of butterflies, blossoms and the handled cross signify life, while memento moris such as skulls or the goddess Kali denote death. Many of these symbols are present in the striking original pieces displayed here. Somerset House, London, until 5th October.
Radical Geometry: Modern Art Of South America spans a dynamic period in South American art, charting the emergence of several distinct artistic movements from the 1930s to the 1970s. From radical innovations in the use of colour and form to new materials like neon and interactive, kinetic sculpture, this exhibition of 80 works reveals some of the most original art of the last 100 years. The display explores the art produced in distinct areas of South America. In Montevideo, Uruguay, Joaquín Torres-Garcia founded the School of the South in the 1930s, through which he planned a new Pan-American art that drew on indigenous American influences. Across the Rio de la Plata, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a group of artists including Gyula Kosice created Arte Madí that challenged the conventions of traditional painting in the 1940s, such as Juan Mele's 'Irregular Frame'. Further north, from the 1950s artists in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, such as Helio Oiticica and Lygia Clark likewise challenged the notions of art by removing it from the walls of galleries and placing it in the hands of the viewer. Finally in Caracas, Venezuela from the 1970s artists worked with optical illusion to create sculpture and paintings that interacted with the viewer and responded to the light of the tropics, such as Jesus Soto's 'Nylon Cube' and Carlos Cruz Diez's 'Physichromie No 500'. All three regions created new and challenging geometric abstractions that captured the optimism that swept across these countries. Royal Academy of Arts until 28th September.