News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th December 2003

Commencing

Illuminating The Renaissance: The Triumph Of Flemish Manuscript Painting In Europe brings together some of the greatest works of the quintessential medieval art form, painted between 1470 and 1560. In the wake of the invention of printing, Flemish illuminators created extravagant and lavish manuscripts in which their art was revitalized and given new direction, resulting in some of the most colourful and luminous examples of the late medieval era. Their work was characterised by innovations in colour, light and texture, and naturalistic detail and illusionism, which rivalled the best panel panting of the period. Flemish illuminators also gave attention to the borders surrounding the text and accompanying miniatures. Previously stylised and two dimensional, they brought them to life with vivid, naturalistic detail, so that at first glance it might seem as though the text was actually surrounded with flowers, fruits and insects. The manuscripts displayed here reveal the full range of sizes and formats in which illuminators worked, from a monumental genealogy to diminutive private altarpieces on parchment, from huge folio sized volumes to tiny prayer books, and from single independent miniatures to books containing a hundred or more examples. The types of texts also vary, from histories, chronicles and romances, to Christian devotional writings, breviaries and books of hours. The fact that they have rarely been displayed means that the colours they retain their brilliance despite being 500 years old. The Royal Academy until 22nd February.

Degas And The Italians In Paris is the first exhibition to explore the connections between the French Impressionist painter, Edgar Degas and a number of Italian artists working in Paris, who were inspired by his sense of design, incisive line and range of experimental techniques. Degas technical and compositional innovations drew partly on the camera, partly on Japan, and partly on the five years he spent in Italy studying the masters of the Italian Renaissance. The exhibition consists of some ninety works in a variety of media - oils, pastels, drawings, prints, and sculptures - of which roughly fifty are by Degas, with ten each by his Italian colleagues Giovanni Boldini, Federico Zandomeneghi, Giuseppe de Nittis and Medardo Rosso. Although each of them worked in a distinctive manner, they all responded to Degas as a classical painter of modern life, to his compositional innovations, and to his technical virtuosity. Some of Degas greatest early portraits are of his Italian relations and a number are included in the show, such as the double portrait of Edmondo e Therese Morbilli. Works are grouped in themes: portraits, the nude and modern life, and their juxtaposition is revealing. Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh until 29th February.

A Celebration Of Hungarian Gold And Silver is an exhibition drawn from the most important gold and silver plate collections in Hungary, the great Treasury of Esztergom Cathedral, established in the 11th century, the Eger Franciscan Church, and the Hungarian National Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest. It highlights the unique features of the gold and silver working tradition in Hungary from the Middle Ages to the end of the 19th century, from metal that is engraved, pierced and embossed, to pieces encrusted with gems. The display of around 50 works includes a spectacular group of ecclesiastical objects, such as the 13th century gold cross on which the Kings of Hungary took their coronation oath, the 14th century sceptre of the Bishop of Esztergom, a large filigree enamel drinking cup, the reliquary of St Imre, and an 18th century monstrance. Secular treasures include cups, beakers and ewers, often richly embossed with classical scenes, and many bearing the name and coat of arms of their former owners, coffee pots, tankards, table fountains, and filigree figures. Gilbert Collection, Somerset House until 1st February.

Continuing

Foreign Office Architects: Breeding Architecture is the first British exhibition of the work of the architectural practice founded ten years ago by Alejandro Zaera Polo and Farshid Moussavi. Hailed as the "coolest architects in the world" by The Times, they are the most successful practitioners of their thirtysomething generation. Based in London, they have a global reach, with landmark projects commissioned or realised in cities as various as New York, Tehran and (their greatest claim to fame so far) Yokohama, where they won a competition against a field of 600 worldwide submissions. FOA is dedicated to the exploration of contemporary urban conditions and construction technologies. Their irregularly shaped, intriguingly patterned buildings, like those of Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind, aim to actively contribute to the activities that take place within them. This exhibition not only explores their projects, and the particularities of each city in which they have been built or are planned, but also examines the range of influences on their work, including music, film and literature, and provides a critical insight into the office's internal 'operating system'. During the course of this year FOA has been commissioned to design the new BBC Music Centre in White City, and chosen as part of the multi-national consortium creating the master plan for London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Institute of Contemporary Arts until 29th February.

Follow A Shadow centres on that magical process described by William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of photography, as 'the art of fixing a shadow'. In collaboration with installation artist Geraldine Pilgrin and lighting designer Chahine Yavroyan, Simon Warner has created a film installation that combines objects, lighting and image to transform two galleries into a counterpoint of black and white - an allegory for both the silhouette and photography's positive and negative. Warner's dual environments evoke the lost world of the 19th century silhouette portraitist, including custom made reproductions of the curious and long obsolete silhouette chair. Projected within the installation, Warner's film takes visitors on a journey through the origins of photography, tracing a brief history of the shadow. The central character re-enacts the legend of Korinthea, the Greek maiden who outlined the shadow of her departing lover on the wall, and thus became the first recorded portraitist. It recasts the legend in photographic terms, using photosensitive chemicals and paper to 'capture' the fleeting shadow of a figure in a life size silhouette portrait, and a selection of these is included elsewhere in the exhibition. The installation traces the destiny of the silhouette not to the realism of the lens based photographic image as we know it, but to an alternative and archaic Victorian demi-monde of peep shows, zoetropes and magic lanterns. Impressions Gallery, York until 14th February.

Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past is the first major national exhibition of British archaeology in over twenty years, and features many treasures on public view for the first time. It shows how much chance archaeological discoveries have revolutionised the understanding of our past, and celebrates the role of the general public in discovering treasures over the centuries, from farmers ploughing fields to present day metal detector users. Major items on display include the Mildenhall treasure of Roman silver, the 12th century Lewis Chessmen, the Hoxne hoard (the largest collection of Roman gold, silver, jewellery and coins found in Britain), the Ringlemere Bronze Age gold cup, the Winchester Iron Age gold jewellery, the Amesbury Archer and the Fishpool hoard of Medieval gold coins and jewellery. The vast majority of finds in the exhibition have been uncovered by metal 'detectorists' who now account for 90% of all treasure discoveries. Although many of the exhibits are of gold or silverwork or feature precious gems, the seemingly lowliest object can be significant to understanding our history. Medieval pewter 'toys' have little financial value, but are important social documents, telling us about everyday lives in the Middle Ages. Similarly, Tudor dress fasteners, found as casual losses rather than on specific sites, give an insight into how people wore their clothes and what they considered to be fashionable accessories. British Museum until 14th March.

William Stott Of Oldham 1857 - 1900: A Comet Rushing To The Sun is the snappy title of the first major exhibition for over 100 years of work by the 19th century artist. After studying in Oldham and Manchester Stott went to Paris, where he achieved rapid success, exhibiting regularly at the Paris Salon. On returning to England, he was prominent among Whistler's followers, until The Birth Of Venus, his painting of Whistler's mistress Maud Franklin depicted naked, which caused a rift between the two artists. This exhibition includes over 80 paintings and pastel drawings from throughout Stott's career, showing the wide range of styles and influences he explored in his work. These include figures in landscape for which he is particularly well known, such as the early works Girl In A Meadow and The Ferry, that helped to establish his reputation as an important British Impressionist painter, and landscapes themselves - dramatic Alpine scenes and seascapes of the Cumbrian coastline at Ravenglass. Much of his later work moves towards the Pre Raphaelitism, being highly decorative and depicting scenes from mythology and the legends of King Arthur. Gallery Oldham until 24th April.

Thomas Jones In Italy features the work of one of the most innovative, yet least known British artists from the second half of the 18th century. Jones small oil-sketches, painted during travels around Italy in the 1770s and 1780s, are masterpieces of observation and concision, while his 'Memoirs' are the most complete and compelling records of an artist's life at the time. Neither were known until about 50 years ago, when their rediscovery led to the recognition that a major artist had been all but forgotten. This exhibition includes 70 informal oil-sketches, drawings and watercolours, painted in Rome and Naples, and the surrounding countryside. Jones speciality was architectural landscapes, or to be precise the depiction of walls - the more decrepit the better - and thus he was in his element in southern Italy. Although the sketches were made as records of locations, to be incorporated in later paintings created in his studio back in England, the acuteness of their observation and their freshness make them works of art in their own right. Among those included here is 'A Wall in Naples' of about 1782, recognised as a masterpiece of the oil-sketch tradition. National Gallery until 15th February.

History Of Modern Design In The Home traces the development of domestic design - both the spaces people live in, and the objects they surround themselves with - from the late 19th to early 21st centuries. It tells the stories behind landmarks in modern design that have transformed our homes and the way we use them. There is a series of living rooms, ranging from the elegance of a Bauhaus Master's House in 1920s Germany, through a prefabricated house built by Charles and Ray Eames in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, and one of Verner Panton's pop-inspired 1960s dining rooms, to a contemporary live-work space specially designed by the Bouroullec brothers. The show examines how advances in technology and the introduction of new 'shapeable' materials, such as plywood and plastic, were exploited, and how fashion has become a major influence in the home. As well as reconstructing the iconic interiors that influenced design in particular decades, the exhibition deconstructs the design and development of influential objects. These include the bentwood furniture with which the Austrian manufacturer Thonet pioneered mass production in the late 19th century; the introduction of the first Penguin paperback book and early Anglepoise lamp in the 1930s; and recent innovations such as Apple's Powerbook computer and iPod player. Design Museum until September.

Concluding

Heath Robinson showcases the work of William Heath Robinson "The Gadget King" who is most widely remembered for his humorous drawings and illustrations. Although his ambition was to become a landscape painter, to earn a living he turned to book illustration, where he rapidly established a reputation. His visual interpretations for poetry by Poe and Kipling, Andersen's Fairy Tales, A Midsummer Night's Dream, de la Mare's Peacock Pie, The Water Babies and Perrault's Fairy Tales, saw him ranked alongside Rackham and Dulac, achieving classic status around the world. In addition, Heath Robinson also wrote and illustrated his own children's books, The Adventures of Uncle Lubin and Bill the Minder. He was among the first generation of artists whose work could be translated straight to the page (without the intervention of an engraver) and, like Beardsley and his other contemporaries, Heath Robinson took full advantage of the possibilities this presented. However, it is in his drawings of ramshackle inventions, through which he satirised human frailties and pretensions, that his legacy lies, contributing 'Heath Robinson' to the English language as an expression to describe such creations. This exhibition offers the chance to see over a hundred original drawings, prints and paintings from the collection of The William Heath Robinson Trust. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 18th January.

Roadside Architecture is an exhibition of recent photography by John Margolies, who has been recording disappearing vernacular architecture in a one man odyssey across America for over 30 years. Commercial outlets designed to look like the products they purveyed - such as a gigantic hamburger or petrol pump - were once a common feature on the highways and byways of America. However, the coming of the freeways has seen the demise of the 'mom and pop' businesses that spawned them, and they are fast disappearing. Margolies, an expert on roadside architecture, a commercial archaeologist, a cultural populist and an avid chronicler of the all-American culture of the automobile, has recorded iconic drive-ins, diners, gas stations, movie palaces, main streets and miniature golf courses to name but a few. He has traced the evolutionary tradition of gas station design, history, and lore - from horse-drawn pumps of the early 1900s to the convenience stores of today, particularly 'the golden age' from 1920 to 1940, when humble outlets evolved into palaces of petroleum. Margolies also looks at movie theatres - the drive ins and the cinema cathedrals - which enjoyed their hey day from 1930 to 1960, but have now disappeared, having been absorbed into the amorphous malls. The Building Centre, London 020 7692 6209 until 17th January.

Below Stairs: 400 Years Of Servants Portraits takes British portraiture, which traditionally concentrated on depictions of the upper classes and the celebrated, and turns it on its head. With a Gosford Park approach, it focuses on the workers, from grooms to governesses, and maids to musicians. The first ever exhibition of portraits of servants in Britain brings together many works that have rarely been seen in public. Around 100 pictures spanning the 17th century to the 20th century include not only domestic servants, but also institutional staff, such as the porter from the Royal Academy, the Arts Club cook and the British Museum's housekeeper. Some of the subjects worked for famous people, such as Queen Victoria and Admiral Nelson, others rose from servitude through their own hard work and ability to become established members of society. Many of the paintings in the exhibition were commissioned by employers who had formed a close attachment to their servants, in recognition of the loyalty (and sometimes eccentricity) of those who worked for them. Examples include a portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts of Tom Derry, Jester to Anne of Denmark; William Hogarth's painting of his own six servants; 'Fish Nell, John Sutherland, Laundryman and "Dummy" King' commissioned by the Duke of Buccleuch of his servants at Dalkeith House; and the group portrait of the 'Heads of Department at Holkham Hall' by Andrew Festing, commissioned by the current Earl of Leicester. National Portrait Gallery until 11th January.