News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 25th July 2007


Spirit & Life: Masterpieces Of Islamic Art features over 165 rare Islamic painted miniatures, glass, metalwork, jewels, plates, vases and manuscripts (many of which took a lifetime to complete) from the collection of the Aga Khan, never before displayed in Britain. Highlights include: probably the earliest extant manuscript of the Canon of Medicine of Ibn Sina, used in Europe and the Middle East as the standard medical textbook for over 500 years; a folio from the 'Houghton' Shahnama, decorated with 258 miniatures, attributable to almost all of the major Persian artists of the first half of the 16th century, one of the finest illustrated manuscripts of any period; a page from the Blue Qur'an, a wonder of Islamic calligraphy created in the early 10th century; a dervish's begging bowl, from the end of the 16th century, made in the form of a boat, with a wide band of elegant inscriptions in Persian and several bands of floral interlace decoration; an 11th century bird incense burner, a masterpiece of medieval bronze casting, with pierce work decoration; a late 10th century Egyptian lustre jar, decorated with knotting or braiding cables and foliated kufic calligraphy; three folios from the Akhlaq-i Nasiri, a philosophical treatise dealing with ethics, social justice and politics from medieval Iran, uniquely illustrated with 17 full page miniatures; and one of the most sumptuous and rarest examples of a complete robe from the Mongol period, originating in Central Asia in the late 13th or early 14th century. The Ismaili Centre, South Kensington, London until 31st August.

Through The Whole Island: Excursions In Great Britain illustrates how the people of this country, together with visitors from overseas, have explored England, Scotland and Wales, and described, explained, praised and criticized what they found. Over many centuries, printed accounts of journeys undertaken for scientific, scholarly or political enquiry, or simply for pleasure, were instrumental in building public perceptions of the landscapes, commerce and social character of this island. Among the highlights are a first edition of Daniel Defoe's travel book 'A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain', from which the exhibition takes its title; a set of field notes from Charles Darwin's geological tour through North Wales, illustrating the importance of travel in the development of his scientific thought; an exquisite manuscript road book drawn by George Taylor in Scotland in 1785; a 17th century engraved map of Wales, with a triangular distance table showing the mileage between major towns; an early railway map of the west of England; an illustrated Wolseley motor car catalogue from 1910; and accounts of artistic tours around Britain by J M W Turner, and pioneer of the one man show, the songwriter Charles Dibdin; together with fictional and poetic accounts of travel, such as William Combe's character Dr Syntax setting out on a tour in search of a wife, with coloured illustrations by Thomas Rowlandson, a copy of William Cowper's poem 'John Gilpin', and William Wordsworth's 'Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey' from the Lyrical Ballads. Cambridge University Library until 22nd December.

Heath Robinson's Helpful Solutions is a selection of cartoons by William Heath Robinson, highlighting his daft but genial solutions for the world in wartime and peacetime - the largest to be staged for 15 years. It includes over 100 original drawings and sketches by the brilliant illustrator and inventor of imaginary machines, who is one of the few artists whose name has entered the Oxford English Dictionary, to signify 'any absurdly ingenious and impracticable device'. This exhibition displays many of the quirky solutions that Heath Robinson developed to assist his earnest cast of characters. A top-hatted gentleman in his long-johns carries out a precarious rescue of a damsel in distress, an engine driver stops to assist a stranded eel, a new method is devised for stuffing a turkey, a novel system proposed for testing mattresses, a device for resuscitating stale railway scones for redistribution at the station buffets, and 'The multimovement tabby silencer', which automatically throws water at serenading cats. No matter how perilous or tricky the problem, Heath Robinson, the King of contraptions, could be sure to offer a helpful solution, and a wholly 'home made' and totally British one: lashed-up and bodged-together in a shed at the bottom of the garden, using bits and pieces, odds and ends and this and that - invariably powered by pulley-systems constructed from lengths of knotted string of the kind grandfathers used to keep in old Oxo tins "In case they came in useful". As a bonus, as well as the drawings, the exhibition also features two three dimensional Heath Robinson machines. The Cartoon Museum, London until 7th October.


Global Cities looks at the changing faces of ten dynamic international cities: Cairo, Istanbul, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo. Exploring each city through five thematic lenses - speed, size, density, diversity and form - the exhibition draws on comparative socio-economic and geographic data originally assembled by the London School of Economics for the 10th International Architecture Exhibition at the 2006 Venice Biennale. This unique show presents existing films, videos and photographs by artists and architects Atelier Bow Wow, Huseyin Alptekin, Francis Alys, Laurence Bonvin, Osman Bozkurt, Hala Elkoussy, Kendell Geers, Dryden Goodwin, Andreas Gursky, Naoya Hatakeyama, Francesco Jodice, Eva Koch, Maha Maamoun, Neutral, Scott Peterman, Melanie Smith, Dean Sameshima, Guy Tillim, Paromita Vohra and Yang Zhenzhong, to offer subjective and intimate interpretations of urban conditions in all ten cities. It addresses major issues facing some of the most influential urban centres around the world, from migration to mobility, from social integration to sustainable growth. The exhibition uses London as a touchstone for comparison, and special commissions by Nigel Coates, Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher, Fritz Haeg, OMA*AMO/Rem Koolhaas, Nils Norman and Richard Wentworth explore the local context through issues such as sustainability, public space and social inclusion. Tate Modern until 27th August.

Georges De La Tour: Master Of Candlelight offers the first opportunity in Britain to view paintings by the recently 'rediscovered' early 17th century French painter Georges de La Tour, focusing on his late period, during which he concentrated on the effect of light on the human figure. For 300 years La Tour's paintings were incorrectly attributed to a number of artists, and it was not until 1972 that all his surviving works were brought together in a major retrospective exhibition. La Tour's mature paintings are characterised by a dramatic simplification of the human form, lit only by the glare of candles, often with the light source unseen. His religious works in particular have a monumental simplicity and mystery. Paintings on show include 'St. Jerome Reading', 'St Sebastian Attended by Irene', 'The Choir Boy (A Young Singer)' and 'The Dice Players'. A revelation.

The Shadow is an accompanying exhibition of contemporary works, focusing on the psychological and symbolic meanings attached to the shadow. The theme is explored through installation, video and photography by artists including: Doug Aitken, Laurie Anderson, Carlo Benvenuto, Christian Boltanski, Fabrizio Corneli, Ceal Floyer, Mona Hatoum, Gary Hill, Nino Longobardi, Urs Luthi, Ottonella Mocellin and Nicola Pellegrini, Tracey Moffatt, Margherita Morgantin, Marvin E Newman, Annie Ratti, Rosanna Rossi, Anri Sala, Susanne Simonson, Fiona Tan, Andy Warhol, William Wegman and Francesca Woodman.

Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 9th September.

The Bombe, is the culmination of a 12 year programme of meticulous reconstruction of one of the machines that cracked 'unbreakable' Nazi Enigma codes during the Second World War. The German Enigma encrypting machine (an electro-mechanical device that relied on a series of rotating 'wheels' to scramble plain text messages into incoherent ciphertext) - is about the size of a typewriter. The Bombe, a huge and noisy 'Heath Robinson' looking affair viewed through today's eyes, took up a whole room. It was the brainchild of Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, combined with the engineering skills of the British Tabulating Machine Company, and was designed to unscramble the encrypted messages, by finding common words or phrases known as 'cribs', requiring many eliminating calculations. The Bombe's success, together with the other activities at the secret national code breaking establishment, helped shorten the Second World War by up to two years, and Turing's work also paved the way for subsequent computer technology. The exhibition, housed within one of the original wartime buildings, which also includes an Enigma machine, one of the even more complex Lorenz encryption devices, and Colossus, the world's first practical electronic digital information processing machine, depicts the incredibly complex processes of interception, decryption, translation, interpretation and analysis that were needed to produce the vital intelligence that proved so important in ending the war. Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, continuing.

Impressionists By The Sea explores the origins and development of the fashionable contemporary beach scene from the early 1860s to the early 1870s, in the work of Eugene Boudin, Manet and Claude Monet. It then looks at beach scenes of the 1880s, in which the Impressionists, notably Monet, turned their backs on the depictions of people, and used their new approach to capture the effects of weather and light on the coastline. During the 19th century, the northern coast of France was transformed from the preserve of local sea faring populations into 'the summer boulevard of Paris' with the arrival fashionable holidaymakers. Painters initially portrayed the coast in Romantic terms, focusing on the forces of nature and the depiction of picturesque scenes of local fishermen. By the 1860s, however, stylish holidaymakers began to appear in paintings, as resorts such as Deauville and Trouville became fashionable. Highlights include Boudin's 'The Beach at Trouville - The Empress Eugenie', Manet's, 'On the Beach: Suzanne and Eugene Manet at Berck', Monet's 'The Beach at Sainte-Adresse' and 'Shadows on the Sea, Pourville', Renoir's 'Children on the Seashore, Guernsey', Isabey's 'The Beach at Granville', and Courbet's 'The Waterspout'. To provide the context within which the Impressionists' pictorial innovations were made, their works are accompanied by late Romantic views by Eugene Isabey and Paul Huet, austere Realist interpretations by Gustave Courbet, and conventioinal representations of beach scenes by Whistler and Cazin. Royal Academy of Arts until 30th September.

Eye-Music: Kandinsky, Klee And All That Jazz is an examination of the particular correspondence between visual art and music at the beginning of the 20th century. Paul Klee took the fugues of Bach as the model for his multi-layered paintings, as did the less well known Czech artist Frantisek Kupka, one of the pioneers of abstract art, while Wassily Kandinsky's friendship with the avant-garde composer Schonberg encouraged the development of his free, expressive style. Later in the century jazz became a model for artistic improvisation in the work of Piet Mondrian, Alan Davie and others, and in the 1970s, Eduardo Paolozzi dedicated a series of screenprints to the composer Charles Ives, whose 'collage' technique incorporated popular tunes, folk music and marching songs within the symphonic tradition. This exhibition and the accompanying programme of concerts and events examines these relationships and other ideas, including the phenomenon of synaesthesia and the ability to 'hear' colours, the spectacle of sound and light performances, and early prototypes of abstract film by pioneers such as Viking Eggeling and Len Lye.

Sighting Music is an accompanying display of musical notation featuring influential scores from the history of 20th century music, where the visual experience of reading the music becomes an important part of its interpretation, including compositions by Arthur Bliss, John Cage, Cornelius Cardew and Tom Phillips.

A-tonal Time Twister: Thor McIntyre-Burnie is an installation that turns the gallery's lift into a space to play and control a specially recorded quartet. Inspired by Schonberg's a-tonal compositions and Kandinsky's colour-tone theory, it creates a unique experience during each journey, as the number of people and their movements control both the music heard and colours seen.

Pallant House Gallery, Chichester until 16th September.

Zaha Hadid: Architecture And Design is the first full scale retrospective in Britain of the work of Zaha Hadid - once referred to as 'the world's greatest unbuilt architect'. Though this was the fate of many of her early projects, her practice, now 20 years old, has grown to a team of 100, and a rush of projects are coming to fruition. In the last year, Hadid has opened two substantial buildings in Germany: a car factory for BMW and the Phaeno Science Centre (shortlisted for the 2006 RIBA Stirling Prize). Both have triumphantly demonstrated her ability to translate the essence of her virtuoso spatial invention in solid form. Now she is busy working on projects all over the world, ranging from masterplans in Singapore and Istanbul, to an opera house in China, a museum in Rome, and a skyscraper in Dubai. This exhibition combines renderings, models and computer images of both the earlier unrealised designs - including the infamous Cardiff Opera House project - together with her recently completed buildings, and proposals for new projects, such as a transport museum in Glasgow, and the Aquatic Centre for the 2012 Olympics in Stratford. In addition, the display also includes Hadid's interior furnishing designs, from the black crystal 'Swarm' chandelier that greets visitors, to paintings, sculptural furniture and vases. Design Museum, London until 25th November.


Seaman Schepps (1881-1972): America's Court Jeweller reveals the highly original designs and brilliant craftsmanship, of the bold and colourful jewellery that entranced mid 20th century American society. Commissions from many White House families led the Washington Post to dub Seaman Schepps 'America's Court Jeweller', and Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Doris Duke, Wanda Toscanini Horowitz, and the Duchess of Windsor as well as members of the du Pont, Mellon and Roosevelt families were amongst his clients. Schepps's eye catching jewellery not only appealed to modern, independent 20th century women - Andy Warhol was an avid collector. One thing that made the jewels of Seaman Schepps so distinctive and memorable was that although he never shied away from using diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds, he also incorporated an astonishing diversity of natural materials such as seashells, sandalwood, walnut, Asian carvings and rock crystals. This exhibition comprises over 150 pieces of jewellery by Schepps, which trace the development of his innovative and extravagant style, from the earliest known surviving piece, a pair of bracelets in Art Deco style, composed of engraved emeralds and engraved ruby leaves with diamonds in white gold made in 1931, through changing fashions and styles, to a large natural coral branch bracelet with yellow gold, emeralds and diamonds, which he presented to one of his employees on her 25th anniversary with the company in 1969. Gilbert Collection, Somerset House, London until 27th August.

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around 1,000 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 9,000 submissions, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. Over £70,000 is given out to artists included in the exhibition through 10 prizes. This year, the show has been masterminded by Bill Woodrow, Ian Ritchie and Paul Huxley, who have chosen the theme of Light to inspire new work from artists responding across all the various media on display. There is also a gallery featuring the work of invited artists curated by the sculptor Tony Cragg. A highlight is David Hockney's massive 'First', a fifty part composition of trees in the Yorkshire lamndscape. Other artists featured in this year's show include Anthony Caro, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Michael Craig-Martin, Anthony Green, Jasper Johns, Anselm Kiefer, Harland Miller, Mimmo Paladino, Tom Phillips, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Michael Sandle, Antoni Tapies, Jane and Louise Wilson and Bill Viola. There are also two memorial galleries dedicated to showing the works of the landscape and portrait painter Kyffin Williams and the abstract painter and collage maker Sandra Blow, both of whom died last year. The Royal Academy of Arts until 19th August.

Towards A New Laocoon considers how the sculptural aspects of Laocoon have been interpreted and re-interpreted by artists over time. The Antique group - which depicts the Trojan priest Laocoon and his sons in the grip of two giant snakes - was rediscovered in 1506 and almost immediately put on show in the Vatican. Since that time artists and writers have succumbed to its fascination, and its inspirational quality. This exhibition looks at Laocoon through a British lens, focusing on juxtapositions of seven works from the 18th and 20th centuries. While the historic works reference the original sculpture, highlighting interest in the Laocoon's drama, narrative, expression and status, the more recent pieces take the Laocoon's more formal characteristics, turning a figurative story into a more pop and abstract one. Eduardo Paolozzi, Tony Cragg and Richard Deacon have each made a number of works that respond to or mirror the Laocoon. Paolozzi was fascinated by classical heritage, and owned his own small scale cast of the group. His works variously redefine its serpentine coils and imprisoned forms. Cragg's works also focus on the forms, which are caught up by the snakes, binding them together in an endless deadly embrace, but rendered in everyday, urban found objects. Deacon's monumental Laocoon similarly plays on the quality of time, by locking straight and curved wooden sections into one great continuous spiral. There is an accompanying show of sculptor's drawings on photographs, providing their contemporary response to classical forms. Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, until 12th August.