Private View held by Richard Andrews
Brilliant is an exhibition of contemporary lighting from the strictly functional to the wildly ostentatious. It shows the range of new lighting forms, fabrics and technologies, from domestic lamps to futuristic lighted textiles. The first space has a series of interlinked rooms in which designers Ron Arad, Ingo Maurer, Sharon Marston, Tord Boontje, Georg Baldele, Francesco Draisci, Kazuhiro Yamanaka, Paul Cocksedge and Arik Levy explore the potential of light. Some work with the basic symbol of electric light - the light bulb - while others look to new technologies such as fibre optics and LEDs. Using shadow play and projection, and by exploiting the possibilities of materials, technologies and visual effects, the designers reveal how light is a powerful shaper of space. Bruce Munro even takes it outdoors offering a 'Field Of Light' in the garden. The second part of the exhibition features hundreds of domestic lights and 'light-objects' by designers who have produced some of the most innovative products of recent years, including Tom Dixon, Marcel Wanders, Gitta Gschwendtner and Karim Rashid. These embrace all manner of materials, forms and manufacture - sculptural and functional, ambient and directional, hi-tech and handmade. Victoria & Albert Museum until 25th April.
Disguise is a collection of work by artists who have made it their business to play at being someone else, to the point in some cases, that the assumed persona has taken them over: their art is self creation rather than self expression.The show examines style, fashion and identity, to explore how we create and change our image, through photography, video and sculpture. All the artists adopt extreme forms of disguise to reflect on how we use it in our daily lives in our dress, make-up or behaviour. Highlights include: Fergus Greer's images of 80s performance artist Leigh Bowery in a series of extraordinary costumes which manipulate his silhouette; Cindy Sherman's photographs of herself as a series of women you might spot in an American supermarket; Nikki S Lee's radical transformations of her image and lifestyle to be accepted into a community of senior citizens or lesbians; Marcus Coates's videos that explore the boundaries between humans and animals; Yasumasa Morimura's images of himself digitally infiltrated into Pre-Raphelite paintings; and Laura Ford's childlike characters in ineffectual disguises. Manchester Art Gallery until 6th June.
Blasting The Future! Vorticism In Britain 1910 - 1920 examines this important British artistic movement, and its turbulent relationship with Futurism. Vorticism is one of the most important and distinctive avant-garde art movements of the early twentieth century, and was Britain's most significant contribution to the development of Modernism. Established by the painter and writer Wyndham Lewis, Vorticism aimed to liberate British culture from the legacy of the Victorian era, promoting a dynamic art that would embrace and reflect the industrial age, through an imagery of hard-edged, geometric and often completely abstract forms. The Vorticist manifesto appeared in the first issue of the movement's official publication Blast. Its signatories included William Roberts, Lawrence Atkinson, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Helen Saunders, Edward Wadsworth and the American poet Ezra Pound, who gave the movement its name. It was greatly indebted to the Italian Futurist movement, which was very active in London during the early years of the 20th century, but the British artists consistently rejected such comparisons, and fiercely defended their independence. All of the major Vorticist artists are represented in this display of 45 works, and in addition, figures such as Jacob Epstein and David Bomberg - who were sympathetic to the aims of the movement but never belonged to it - as well as Britain's only true Futurist, C.R.W. Nevinson. Estorick Collection, London until 18th April.
Pre-Raphaelite Vision: Truth To Nature is the first exhibition to focus solely on Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the natural world. The group took their canvases out of doors, and working directly from nature led to new ways of seeing and painting, as revolutionary as the achievements of their contemporaries, the Impressionists. The exhibition brings together around 150 works, including William Holman Hunt's 'Our English Coasts (Strayed Sheep)', John William Inchbold's 'Anstey's Cove, Devon' and John Everett Millais's 'Ophelia'. It explores the Pre-Raphaelite's fascination with detail, together with parallel developments in photography; their concern for the ordinary and mundane depicted in suburban environments, epitomised by Ford Madox Brown's 'An English Autumn Afternoon'; a fascination with the Orient and places with biblical history, and a desire to make accurate painted records of locations and buildings felt to be at risk, such as Thomas Seddon's 'The Great Sphinx' and William Holman Hunt's 'The Scapegoat'; an interest in geology with work such as John Brett's 'The Glacier of Rosenlaui'; landscape as a setting for human activities in a pre-industrial rural Britain with Charles Napier Hemy's 'Among the Shingle at Clovelly' and William Dyce's 'Pegwell Bay'; and the movement towards a more poetic kind of landscape in J M Whistler's 'Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea' and John Brett's 'The British Channel seen from Dorsetshire Cliffs'. Tate Britain until 3rd May.
Pain: Passion‚ Compassion‚ Sensibility explores the changing cultural place of pain, and the role of science in shaping our beliefs‚ with visual and verbal representations‚ medical attempts to deal with pain‚ examinations of modern and contemporary theories about the nature of pain, and a look into our reactions to the pain of others. Using a mixture of historical and contemporary exhibits, the meanings and experiences of pain are explored, including amputation, childbirth, circumcision, torture, masochism and sadism. Over 170 film clips, objects and artworks - many rare and unseen from the original collections of Sir Henry Wellcome - include: the tooth of an Egyptian ghoul said to cure neck pain; a Victorian head perforator; Lord Lister's apparatus for application per rectum; 18th century German dental forceps; a carved wooden decapitated head; torture equipment, including a Chinese torture seat and a 16th century thumb screw; a 17th century German execution mask; the blood stained costume of the matador Manuel Granero, worn on the day of his death; etchings from Goya's Disasters of War series; and a human size devotional sculpture of Christ used in Easter processions in Spain. The Science Museum until 20th June.
Crystal Palace At Sydenham celebrates the 150th anniversary of the completion of Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace at Sydenham, which was almost twice the size of the original structure in Hyde Park built to house the Great Exhibition. While the 1851 exhibition is well known, range of the displays and activities at Sydenham, such as the Handel Festivals and fireworks, the exploits of the acrobat Blondin, the Festival of Empire of 1911, and the first days of the Imperial War Museum are mostly unfamiliar. The interior nave was originally a Winter Garden with botanical exhibits and statuary, and there were displays of architecture, industry, ethnography and natural history. The surrounding park was laid out in terraces, with elaborate formal gardens, informal English landscape gardening, the famous life size models of dinosaurs and other extinct animals, and waterworks - fountains, water temples and cascades - which were intended to surpass Versailles. The whole enterprise was intended to be a 'living encyclopedia', and for its first thirty years the Palace and Gardens drew an average of two million visitors annually. The displays had an important effect on the artists of the time, and works on view by Holman Hunt, Poynter and Alma-Tadema show how they employed more accurate detail in their depictions of archaeological and historical settings, having seen the meticulous reconstructions in the Architectural Courts. With a wealth of contemporary paintings, plaster casts, original photographs and engravings, artefacts, models and film clips, this exhibition makes possible an imaginary visit to the Palace and Gardens. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 18th April.
El Greco is the first major exhibition in Britain of the work of Domenikos Theotokopoulos, the 16th century painter better known as El Greco. One of the most original painters of his time, his work is modern in appearance, and greatly influenced 20th century painters, including Cezanne, Picasso and Jackson Pollock. The exhibition traces El Greco's career through a selection of his greatest paintings, together with some rarely exhibited drawings and sculptures. El Greco stood apart from his contemporaries in the depiction of his compositions, and the use of bright colours, elongated forms and spiritual intensity, painted in a style combining aspects of the Byzantine and Western traditions. Born in Crete, he trained as an icon painter, before moving to Venice, where his style was transformed through his encounters with the work of Titian and Tintoretto, and then Rome, where he was exposed to Michelangelo's influence, mixing with an elite circle of intellectuals connected with the Farnese Palace. El Greco made his home in Spain, settling in Toledo, where he created the famous series of altarpieces in which his highly individual treatment of religious imagery attained its fullest expression. The exhibition includes a rare example of El Greco's early work, the recently discovered icon of 'The Dormition of the Virgin', the 'Laocoon', 'The Opening of the Fifth Seal (The Vision of Saint John)', 'View of Toledo', and the 'Adoration of the Shepherds', which he painted to hang above his own tomb. The exhibition also brings together a large group of portraits of his contemporaries, such as 'Fray Hortensio Paravicino' and 'Jeronimo de Ceballos'. National Gallery until 23rd May.
Office Politics: Women And The Workplace 1860 - 2004 examines how life has changed for women in offices, from the days of the typing pool to the current image of the laptop toting freelancer. It looks at how politics, fashion, office design, technology and furniture have changed in step with the shifts in gender roles. Company records reveal how threatening and provocative women's presence was seen to be by their employers when they first stepped into the office. They also expose the steps taken to control women's appearance and confine them to certain parts of the building (lest the men be distracted), and exclude their participation in the actual running of the businesses. Using cartoons, careers literature, photographs and advertisements, the exhibition dissects the stereotypes associated with women office workers, such as the 1920s business girl, the 1960s 'dolly bird' secretary and the power dressing executive of the 1980s. The exhibition also looks at the changes in office design from the segregated women's departments to the open plan, and the introduction of the modesty boards to cover women's legs from men's view. There is an accompanying series of talks and events exploring the issues raised by the exhibition. Further information can be found on the Women's Library web site via the link from the Galleries section of ExhibitionsNet. The Women's Library, London until 1st May.
Cecil Beaton: Portraits marks the centenary of one of the most celebrated of British portrait photographers, renowned for his images of elegance, glamour and style, and as famous as his subjects. This retrospective brings together over 150 portraits from the five decades of his career, during which he captured fashion, art and celebrity, from the time when stars were unattainable in the 1920s, through to the more egalitarian person next door of the 1960s. Early highlights include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's wedding album; romantic studies of Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother), the first of many Royal commissions; a portrait of Edith Sitwell posed as a gothic tomb sculpture; Hollywood stars Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich; fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli; and artists Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso. During the Second World War, Beaton was an official war photographer, and there are images of land girls; a 3 year old blitz victim; and Air Vice-Marshall Sir Arthur Conningham in his tent in the Egyptian Desert. From the 1950s there are more Hollywood portraits with Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe (accompanied by Beaton's handwritten eulogy about her), Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra. Beaton reinvented his style in the 1960s, capturing a new generation that included David Hockney, Jean Shrimpton, Rudolf Nureyev, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Harold Pinter and Andy Warhol. National Portrait Gallery until 31st May.
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.
Kerry Harker: Miniature Masterpieces Of Delicacy, Humour And Colour is the culmination of a year's work by the recipient of the Vickers Award, examining the heritage of the porcelain industry at the Royal Crown Derby factory. Harker is a conceptual artist who re-interprets photographic imagery, often condensing pop and film celebrities to their most unforgettable features: Elvis's quiff and Marilyn's lips. Here she has produced a series of plates, which straddle the line between the fine and decorative arts. Elements of print were used on the factory's tablewares alongside collage and hand painting to create tableaux from the history of the industry, recalling the narrative tradition in antique Chinese porcelain. There are also 40 small oil paintings derived from the porcelain collection. Slides of archive photographs were projected onto canvas, and the object's outline traced in black linework against a flat coloured ground echoing the original porcelain 'ground' colours. The paintings are installed in a grid format following the placement of the porcelain collection in glass display cabinets, contrasting the differing modes of display for painting and ceramics. In addition, two large circular canvasses utilise an eclectic mix of visual elements, drawn from the porcelain archive, Disney, Manga, natural history and road signage, placed against the same flat 'ground' colours. Derby Art Gallery until 7th March.
The Smithsons: The House Of The Future To A House For Today celebrates the architecture of Alison and Peter Samithson, who were both pioneers in the British Pop Art movement, and influential designers of landmark buildings. The exhibition traces the development of their architecture and ideas from their involvement with the Independent Group through the construction of major projects such as the Economist building in 1964, and the Robin Hood Gardens housing complex in 1972, to the present. It focuses on their houses, including two of their most important - and contrasting - projects: the House Of The Future designed for the Ideal Home Exhibition in 1956, and the little known house for today in rural Germany. The House Of The Future, conceived in an age of scientific optimism, was full of the gadgets that it was predicted would change our lives, but in fact never came to pass. These included retractable furniture, and a hot air curtain at the door to blast dirt off visitors as they entered. The house for today, a private commission built in Lauenforde, between 1985 and 2002, comes from the very different 'back to nature' movement. It is a simple functional design, constructed from traditional materials, and located in isolation in a wood, rather like a tree house, but on the ground. The exhibition charts both society's changing expectations and requirements for housing, and the Smithson's responses to them, drawing on their private archive, with plans, models and films. Design Museum until 29th February.