News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 25th October 2006


Velazquez traces the career of the 17th century Spanish painter through around forty paintings - almost half his surviving works. Throughout his life Diego Velazquez demonstrated an increasing ability to observe and record reality, achieving ever greater physical and psychological naturalism. The exhibition reveals this development through examples of his portraits, religious and mythological paintings. It begins with a selection of the 'bodegone' scenes (ordinary people in settings where food and drink figure prominently) such as 'The Waterseller of Seville' and 'An Old Woman Cooking Eggs', together with religious works 'Adoration of the Magi', 'Kitchen Scene with Christ in the House of Mary and Matha', and 'Temptation of St Thomas Aquinas', portraits 'Sor Jeronima de la Fuente' and 'Pedro de Barberana y Aparregui', and mythological works such as 'Apollo at the Forge of Vulcan'. Portrayals of the court life include paintings that show their popular pursuits, such as hunting 'Philip IV as a Hunter', several examples of equestrian portraits, including 'Infante Baltasar Carlos in the Riding School', and portraits of court figures including the court dwarf, Francisco Lezcano. Finally there are Velazquez's later mythological paintings and portraits, including, 'Mars' and 'The Toilet of Venus' (The Rokeby Venus), 'Pope Innocent X' and the royal children 'Infanta Maria Teresa in Pink', 'Infanta Margarita in Blue' and 'Infante Felipe Prospero'. National Gallery until 21st January.

Bronte Abstracts are a series of works made over the past year by the contemporary British artist Cornelia Parker, in response to artefacts in the parsonage in which the Bronte family lived, and the sisters wrote their novels. The house is now displayed as a 'period home', with the Brontes' furniture, domestic objects, artworks and personal belongings, set out to give an impression of the house in their own time. Cornelia Parker's works are displayed throughout the parsonage alongside these original contents to encourage new ways of looking at the collection and at contemporary art, to celebrate the connections between creativity, past and present, and reflect the way in which the Brontes' lives and works have continued to inspire writers and artists across three centuries. The works include scanned and electron microscope images of items from the collection, including a split end of Anne's hair, pinholes made by Charlotte, the tines of a comb burnt by Emily, and a quill, together with images of amendments to Charlotte's manuscript of Jane Eyre, held in the British Library. In addition, there are sound installations in certain rooms that document a visit made by two psychics to the parsonage, and a video recording of Phyllis Cheney, who claims descent from Branwell. Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth until 31st December.

Game On surveys the forty year history, contemporary culture, and future of video games. This very interactive exhibition explains the game design process from the conceptual drawing through to the finished game, and identifies the key creative people who make them. It charts the development of games and hardware from PDP-1‚ the computer that ran the world's first video game‚ Space War in 1962‚ and the world's first manufactured arcade game‚ Computer Space from 1971, through to the recent consoles like the Nintendo DS and Xbox 360, and illustrates how content and technologies are interrelated in advancing new ideas. There is also a specially commissioned large scale street art influenced work by UK artist and illustrator Jon Burgerman‚ which takes the form of an immense timeline of games and gaming history‚ incorporating classic games as well as cultural and political events, and technical advances that resonate with the history of computer games. The exhibition assesses the influence games have had on culture in Europe, North America and Japan, particularly in relation to cinema, pop videos and other visual media. A series of special events will examine many of the issues linked to games and gaming, and their positive and negative effects on society. The entire history of the games industry is laid out‚ explained, and ready to play, with over 120 games, from classics such as Space Invaders‚ Asteroids and Ms Pac-Man, to the latest cutting edge creations, available for visitors to try their skills. The Science Museum until 25th February.


Twilight: Photography In The Magic Hour comprises around 50 works by international contemporary artists who have explored the visual and psychological effects of twilight, when sensibilities change and potential-laden atmospheres emerge, facilitating the subversion of normality, the darker side of fantasies and the fairytale gone awry. The works are: Robert Adams monochrome 'Summer Nights' series, taken along the Eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, focusing on trees, sky and the shape of the land; Gregory Crewdson's 'Twilight' and 'Beneath the Roses' series, elaborately constructed cinematic tableaux of bizarre, primeval rituals staged in pristine suburbs; Philip-Lorca diCorcia's 'Hollywood' series, with hustlers and drifters along Sunset Boulevard at the moment when natural light and artificial light are in perfect balance; Ori Gersht's new film installation, and his 'Rear Window' series, recording dramatic twilight skies above London; Bill Henson's photographs of Australian landscapes at dusk, showing industrial 'no-man's lands' that lie on the outskirts of cities, peopled by androgynous figures; Chrystel Lebas's 'Abyss' series, using panoramic long exposures to capture the eerie atmosphere of forests at dusk in France, Germany and Japan, and 'Between Dog and Wolf' her triptych made in the Arctic circle; Boris Mikhailov's 'At Dusk' series, taken in Kharkow in the Ukraine following the collapse of the Soviet Union; and Liang Yue's 'Several Dusks', shot on the streets of Beijing, where the haziness of dusk is precipitated by dust, sandstorms and pollution. Victoria & Albert Museum until 17th December.

Far Horizons: Artist Travellers 1750-1850 features the work of British artists who travelled before the age of mass tourism in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Canada and India. These intrepid artists journeyed for many reasons, ranging from broadening their experiences and visual education to recording foreign lands and cultures as part of scientific or military expeditions. Their work captures some of the pioneering spirit seen in that of American artists, bringing reports of unknown worlds back to 'civilisation'. This display includes watercolours and drawings by landscape artist John Robert Cozens, whose images of Switzerland and Italy have a sense of mystery and power; portraitist Allan Ramsay, who made frequent visits to Italy; John Webber, enlisted as a draughtsman on Captain Cook's third voyage, visiting such diverse destinations as Tonga, Siberia and Vancouver Island, with works mainly in watercolour and ink; William Callow, who recorded his extensive sightseeing trips throughout Europe in delicate pencil drawings; David Cox, with views of travels to Paris, northern France and the Low Countries; John Frederick Lewis, who lived for some years in Spain and Cairo and recorded Islamic culture; Edward Lear, who documented his explorations in India; and the master of the romantic ruin, Samuel Palmer with visions of Rome. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh until 10th December.

Power And Taboo: Sacred Objects From The Eastern Pacific examines the concept of taboo in the Polynesian region, the English word taboo having been introduced into our lexicon from the area via Captain Cook's journals. Polynesia is a triangular region with New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island at its corners, populated from a shared homeland beginning approximately 1,500 years ago. The exhibition focuses on religious practice in the 18th and early 19th century, prior to extensive mission and other expatriate influence, when religion encompassed all aspects of human activity, the success or failure of which depended on divine favour, and having an active and appropriate relationship with the gods. Wrapping sacred objects in barkcloth, feathers or coconut fibre was a way of containing their might. Highlights include an enigmatic A'a figure from the Austral Islands; a feather god head from Hawaii; an intricate nephrite tiki pendant from New Zealand; a unique 4m long god staff from the Cook Islands, wrapped in layer upon layer of barkcloth; a tattooed fisherman's god sculpture; and a fibre god image from the Society Islands. Paintings contemporary to the period by William Hodges evoke the landscapes in which these objects were produced, and a sense of the people who inhabited these islands is provided by drawings and prints of Polynesians, in many cases holding or wearing objects identical to those on display. British Museum until 7th January.

At Home In Renaissance Italy reveals the central role of the Renaissance interior in the flowering of Italian art and culture, showing how works of art were originally conceived for affluent Renaissance homes. The exhibition focuses on the main rooms: the sala (reception room), camera (bedroom) and scrittoio (study) of a wealthy urban interior, with displays of furniture, paintings, textiles, tapestries and decorative arts from the palazzi of Tuscany and the Veneto. Highlights include: the famous study in the Palazzo Medici in Florence, with Luca Della Robbia's roundels, fountain pens, illuminated manuscripts and artefacts from the family's collection; the re-uniting after centuries of separation of Paolo Veronese's double portrait of the da Porto-Thiene family from their home Palladio's Palazzo da Porto; Filippo Lippi's 'Portrait of a Man and Woman at a Casement', the earliest Italian portrait within an interior setting; Vittore Carpaccio's 'Birth of the Virgin', depicting an extraordinary succession of rooms; Sofonisba Anguissola's 'Sisters playing Chess', an intimate family scene by one of the few prominent female artists of the period; Vincenza Campi's 'Kitchen Scene', crammed with below stairs hustle and bustle; rare examples of Renaissance furniture, such as an inlaid table that has never left the family and a Florentine painted wedding chest; and a monumental fireplace and wall-fountain; plus survivals of everyday objects such as steel corsets, harpsichords, children's books, gambling games, cooking and dining utensils, protective amulets, embroidered sheets, the earliest surviving Italian spectacles and the only known Renaissance baby-walker. Victoria & Albert Museum until 7th January.

St George's Bloomsbury officially reopens this week after a £9.2m three year restoration programme. One of London's forgotten landmarks has regained the Baroque splendour of Nicholas Hawksmoor's original 18th century vision - the last, and arguably the greatest, of his six London churches. It was designed to glorify not just God but King George I, whose statue stands aloft the spire, a miniature version of the mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Around this there are two pairs of writhing oversized lions and unicorns, whose appearance prompted a rival architect to say that Hawksmoor was 'scarcely sober' when he designed it. The building is full of surprises. The entrance is not from beneath the mighty Roman portico fronting the street, with its ironwork street lamps incorporating platforms for the lamplighters to stand on, but at the side, through a less obvious door in the base of the tower. Inside, the altar is straight ahead across the short axis of the building's rectangular plan. At various times certain idiosyncrasies of Hawksmoor's masterpiece had been 'ironed out', including moving the altar to the more conventional position, and bricking up some windows, but his original intentions have now been restored, together with the lions and unicorns, removed by severe Victorian sensibilities, but recreated by Tim Crawley. The only deviation from Hawksmoor is that although originally all the windows were clear glass, certain Victorian stained glass panels have been retained. A reopening gala on 14th October will include a costumed performance of eighteenth century music, song and verse, together with readings from St George's early history. St George's Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Way London WC1.

Cezanne In Britain is a retrospective focussing entirely on works held in British collections to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Paul Cezanne. Although he never came to Britain, thanks to pioneer collectors, this country now holds one of the world's most outstanding collections of works by Cezanne, and about fourty five of them have been selected for this display. The exhibition traces the full development of Cezanne's art, comprising paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints, and covers his wide range of subject matter: portraits, still lifes and landscapes. World renowned and trademark paintings, such as 'The Bathers' and 'Mont Sainte-Victoire', are shown alongside rarely seen works, including an earlier prototype for 'The Bathers', seen in public for the first time. The successive styles of Cezanne's career are represented: expressive works 'painted as though with mud' of the 1860s such as 'The Abduction' and 'The Autopsy'; 'Impressionist' pictures made during the 1870s, showing a lighter palette as in 'Pool at the Jas de Bouffan'; 'synthetic' works from the 1880s and 1890s such as 'The Card Players'; and finally, serene and highly resolved paintings from the later period of his life, such as the 'Still Life with Teapot'. From the early portrait of 1862, 'The Painter's Father, Louis-Auguste Cezanne', to one of his last paintings, the 'Portrait of Gardener Vallier' made in 1906, the exhibition reflects the forty year artistic journey of a solitary man who relentlessly looked for perfection. National Gallery until 7th January.


A Secret Service: Art, Compulsion, Concealment shows off the work of 15 international artists and groups whose practices centre on the creation of secret worlds, or the exposure of hidden facts and images. It includes key figures of Modern art, established and emerging contemporary artists, and also outsiders and those operating beyond the mainstream. Together, they address numerous aspects of secrecy: magic, alchemy, sexuality, dreams, religion, political conspiracy, assumed identity and the covert workings of the State. A highlight is Kurt Schwitters's final creation 'The Merzbarn', a rare surviving example of his four Merzbuildings - complex, architectural constructions created from refuse and found objects - seen only by a few trusted friends during his lifetime. The Merzbuildings remain confounding riddles, and the exhibition includes rarely seen documentation of the Merzbuildings in conjunction with a specially commissioned new work by Turner Prize nominee Mike Nelson. Among the work by outsiders, there is a presentation of watercolours by the reclusive Chicago janitor Henry Darger, whose illustrations for the fantasy novel In the Realms of the Unreal came to light only at the very end of his life. The full list of other artists comprises: Sophie Calle, Roberto Cuoghi, Gedewon, Susan Hiller, Tehching Hsieh, Katarzyna Jozefowicz, Joachim Koester, Paul Etienne Lincoln, Mark Lombardi, The Speculative Archive, Jeffrey Vallance and Oskar Voll. Hatton Gallery, Newcastle until 11th November.

Blackpool Illuminations have extended the holiday season and entertained visitors to the seaside town since 1879, when 8 plain electric arc lamps bathed the Promenade in what was described as 'artificial sunshine'. While the basic idea remains the same, the style and scale of Blackpool's end of season electrical extravaganza have little in common with that first experiment in lighting. Traditional lamps are still used, but now alongside the newest technology such as lasers, fibre-optics, low-voltage neon and even real fire and water. The show now costs £2.4m to stage, and stretches for six miles of spectacular colour, light and movement. Among featured tableaux in this year's free show are Postman Pat and dinosaurs. Visitors can become part of the display, as they travel along the Promenade aboard a tram dressed up by lights as a wild west train, ocean liner or space rocket, from 8pm to midnight most nights.

The Festival Of Light is an accompanying programme of events and contemporary light installations. These include the 'Artificial Sunshine - The Story Of The Illuminations' exhibition, where visitors can get up close to working illuminations, and see original drawings and diagrams dating back to the 1930's; Michael Trainor's giant mirror ball installation 'They Shoot Horses Don't They?' spectacularly illuminated by Greg McLenahan, and 'The Power And The Glory', a 5m high tower of Blackpool's own junk extracted from the recycling bins and re-animated into a tower of power, light and colour; Blachere Illumination's 'Wonderland', a sparkling canopy curtain of LED lights floating as if suspended in mid air, mysteriously supporting 6 giant chandeliers; 'Guernica Three', a 50ft high Thunderbird 3 rocket, decorated with scenes from Picasso's Guernica painting; and Philip Oakley's 'The Magic Tree', a 40ft high tree with 72 constantly changing colour Pulsar Chromaspheres hanging like exotic fruit. Blackpool Promenade until 5th November.

David Hockney: From Bradford To Hollywood And Back Again explores Bradford born Hockney's response to the many locations with which he is associated, particularly Yorkshire, London, New York and Los Angeles. Featuring over fifty works from four decades, the show offers a snapshot of Hockney's developing sense of place in a constantly changing world. During this period, as he has moved from swinging sixties whiz kid to slightly dotty professor, Hockney has tried his hand at a variety of media, painting in acrylic, drawing, printmaking, instant photography and lately watercolour, the common thread being a simple and profound wonder at what he sees looking around him - wherever he is. Among the exhibition highlights are early Bradford works 'Family at a Tea Table', 'The Launderette', 'The Bradford Co-operative Society' and 'Bolton Junction'; swinging sixties London works 'Bradford from Exhibition Road' and 'Life Painting of Myself'; a 1970s swimming pool painting 'Le Plongeur'; one of his earliest 1980s Polaroid joiners showing a view of Bradford, together with 'Mother', 'Bolton Abbey', 'Grand Canyon' and 'South Rim with Rail, Arizona'; and symbolising the whole exhibition, 1990s 'Garrowby Hill' alongside 'Road Across the Wolds'.Cartwright Hall, Bradford until 4th November.