News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th March 2008

Commencing

Amazing Rare Things: The Art Of Natural History In The Age Of Discovery brings together the works of four artists and a collector who have shaped our knowledge of the natural world around us. Leonardo da Vinci, who used drawing to understand all natural forms; Cassiano dal Pozzo, who commissioned artists to record plants, birds and animals for his museo cartaceo; Alexander Marshal, whose flower book documents the contents of English gardens over the course of a year; Maria Sibylla Merian, who had lifelong fascination with flies, spiders and caterpillars; and Mark Catesby, who produced a comprehensive survey of the flora and fauna of the east coast of America; are diverse figures, who shared a passion for enquiry, and a fascination with the beautiful and bizarre in nature. All lived at times when new species were being discovered around the world in ever increasing numbers. Many of the plants and animals represented in the exhibition were then barely known in Europe. Today some are commonplace, while others are extinct.

Treasures From The Royal Collection is a further selection from the works of art acquired by kings and queens over 500 years, which have been brought together from royal residences across the UK. Highlights include paintings by Rembrandt, Canaletto, Winterhalter, and Gainsborough's only surviving mythological painting 'Diana and Actaeon', spectacular jewels, dazzling works by Faberge, and highly decorated suits of armour made for Prince Henry, son of James VI and I, as well as furniture, sculpture and ceramics, silver and gold ware arms, and historic pieces of porcelain that are still used for ceremonial occasions today.

The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 28th September.

Alberto Giacometti is an exhibition that focuses on a crucial decade in the development of a sculptural language that marks a major achievement in 20th century art. In 1945, at the end of the Second World War, when Alberto Giacometti returned to Paris from Geneva, he was working towards a new perception of reality governed by the figure in space. Sculptures, paintings and drawings created at this time show Giacometti moving away from the representation of a physical, bodily experience to explore a more optical sensation. Whilst this work is a departure from his earlier exploration of Surrealism, he retained the sense of an extraordinary encounter, as if seeing something familiar for the first time. Key sculptures in the exhibition, such as 'The Forest', 'Four Figurines on a Stand' and 'Standing Nude on a Cubic Base', present a distillation of Giacometti's ideas at this time, together with paintings including 'Jean Genet' and 'Annette', drawings such as 'Homage to Balzac' and 'Portrait of the Artist's Brother', and a series of lithographs created for the book 'Paris sans fin'. Giacometti continuously reworked specific themes, often using models he knew intimately, such as his wife Annette, his mother, and his brother Diego. In paintings the figure frequently emerges from a force field of lines, and Giacometti often used brushstrokes to gain an effect similar to the roughly pitted surfaces of his sculptures. Compton Verney House, Warwickshire, until 1st June.

Snapshots In Time: 150 Years Of Excellence celebrates the 150th anniversary of the opening of the present Royal Opera House in Covent Garden - the 3rd theatre on the site. A series of showcases and wall displays, located throughout the building, recall some of the great artists associated with the theatre, though costumes, paintings, caricatures and photographs. These include singers Enrico Caruso, Nellie Melba, Adelina Patti, Rosa Ponselle and Eva Turner, and dancers Margot Fonteyn, Vaslav Nijinsky and Rudolph Nureyev. However, the main focus of the exhibition is the theatre itself, reflecting the changes in the building, both front of house and back stage, during its life. It includes items of architectural salvage, such as pillars removed from the grand tier during the major redevelopment in 1997, together with architectural models of the redevelopment proposals, photographs of the Victorian stage machinery removed at that time, and pictures of members of the Royal College of Needlework embroidering the royal crest on the new red and gold stage curtains, together with the actual royal insignia from previous drapes. The exhibition also includes items not normally on public view, such as the chairs made for the Great Exhibition in 1851, donated by Queen Victoria for use in the Royal box. In addition, there is a documentary film charting the theatre's history, directed by Lynne Wake. Royal Opera House, Covent Garden until 4th August.

Continuing

China Design Now explores the recent explosion of new design in China, together with the impact of rapid economic development on architecture and design in its major cities. The exhibition captures the dynamic phase as China opens up to global influences, and responds to the hopes and dreams of its new urban middle class. It displays the work of Chinese and international designers, focussing on architecture, fashion and graphic design as well as film, photography, product and furniture design, youth culture and digital media. Around 100 designers are featured, more than 95% of whom are Chinese. The display focuses on three rapidly expanding cities, and their particular design specialities. Shenzhen, a new city born in the 1980s, which is now the nation's centre for graphic design - an industry unknown in China before the 1990s - is shown through experiments with the latest technologies in poster and book design, and the recent wave of new consumer and lifestyle magazines. Shanghai, where consumerism and urban culture have combined to produce a fashion and 'lifestyle' centre, features fashion by Han Feng, Lu Kun, Ma Ke, Wang Wiyang and Zhang Dah, and products aimed at design conscious youth: album covers, skateboards, designer toys, mobile phones, T-shirts and trainers. Beijing, where monumental architecture for the Olympic Games is transforming the skyline, is represented by Herzog & de Meuron's 'birds nest' stadium, Zhu Pei's Digital Beijing information centre, Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren's China Central Television headquarters, and projects by Ma Yansong, Wang Hui, Atelier Deshaus and standardarchitecture. Victoria & Albert Museum until 13th July.

Laura Ford: New Work features the latest pieces by the artist who creates installations that are both magical and macabre, working with a variety of materials, from fabric and other found objects, to more traditional materials such as plaster and bronze. This time, like figures from The Lord Of The Rings, three fairy tale espaliered trees stand in the interior space overlooking the ancient trees of the park and landscape beyond. Cast in bronze, each has human feet and legs, as do two black birds perched nearby. These surreal elements are typical of Ford's work, which always depicts a figure or animal, represented in an unusual and twisted way.

Georgie Hopton: The Three Cornered Hat is a series of works that have drawn inspiration from flowers, which Hopton has grown herself. She photographs, paints and sculpts each image forming groups within the exhibition. Her photographs of flowers are presented in retro style vases, and employ soft lines that detach the objects from reality. Hopton's oval canvases present flowers in a more lavish manner, using decorative, candy coloured shades. Her sculpture, made in clay and then cast in jesmonite, has a cubist feel to it, and is decoratively painted, giving them a feeling of hyper-reality. Each flower is represented through the medium of photography, painting and sculpture. NewArtCentre, Roche Court, Salisbury Sculpture Park until 5th May.

Cranach is the first major exhibition in Britain devoted to Lucas Cranach the Elder, a painter, printmaker and book illustrator with a distinctly individual manner. He was one of the most versatile artists of the German Renaissance, court artist to the Saxon electors, a staunch supporter of the Reformation, and a close friend of Martin Luther. During the course of his long career, Cranach created striking portraits and expressive devotional works, and propaganda for the Protestant cause, as well as his own brand of erotic female nude and inventive treatments of biblical, mythological and classical subjects. He was among the first artists to paint full length portraits, and posessed a nortable skill in psychological characterisation, and thus his likenesses of the personalities of the day have shaped history's conception of them. This exhibition brings together some 70 works, chosen to represent the quality and range of this formerly neglected master. Highlights include portraits of Martin Luther, Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenberg as St Jerome, and the portrait dyptych of John the Steadfast and his Son John Frederick, and the narrative paintings 'The Judgemant of Paris', 'The Beheading of St John the Baptist', 'Adam and Eve', 'The Martyrdom of St Catherine', 'St Helen with the Cross', 'The Golden Age', 'Pieta Beneath the Cross' and the triptych alterpiece 'The Holy Kinship'. Royal Academy of Arts until 8th June.

Science Museum Library and Archives has reopened after a £2.5m reorganisation, which has seen the construction of a new state of the art facility near Swindon, which holds the Library's original works by great scientists and engineers from the 15th century to the present day. The Library's collection on the history and biography of science and technology is held at a revamped space within Imperial College Library at South Kensington. The reopening on two sites secures the long term future for the collection, which was founded in 1883 and currently contains over 600,000 items. Among the priceless treasures that can now be viewed by both scholars and the general public are: a signed copy of the first edition of Albert Einstein's 'General Theory of Relativity'; Sir Isaac Newton's 'Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica', which laid down his theory of gravity; the first Latin translation of 'Ptolemy's Amalgest', which reintroduced theories of astronomy and planetary motion in a geocentric system; the only known copy in the world of Andrew Snape's 'Snape's Purging Pill for Horses: with his Cordial Pouder, and Ointments'; Nasa's final flight plan for Apollo 11 and the first moon landing, signed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin; the archive of James Watt, spanning subjects from chemistry to Christianity; original drawings by Charles Babbage, whose 'calculating engine' laid the foundation of modern computing; and the papers of Barnes Wallis, including material relating to the Dam Busters 'bouncing bomb'. Science Museum Swindon, Wroughton, Swindon and Imperial College Library, South Kensington, continuing.

Hugh Stoneman Master Printer is a retrospective of a career of over 30 years, during which Stoneman was renowned for his unique collaborations with other artists. Working in dialogue with painters, photographers and sculptors, Stoneman ensured that, through the intrinsic artistic qualities of print media, their work found new relationships between image and material. What made Stoneman unique was the breadth of his experience. An expert in etching, photogravure, woodcut, linocut, letterpress, and lithography, he put the complex knowledge and arcane equipment of the old time master printer - the copper plates, ink, scrim, wool blankets, dampened paper, presses - at the disposal of the most experimental contemporary artists. These ranged from Terry Frost, Patrick Heron, Sandra Blow and Ian McKeever to Eve Arnold, Gary Hume, George Shaw and Grayson Perry, as well as some significant European and Middle-Eastern figures such as Arturo Di Stefano, Cesar Galicia and the Estate of Iraqi politician, Kamil Chadirji. The exhibition revisits some of Stoneman's key collaborations, and showcases his ability to work in an extraordinary range of expressive styles. Stoneman was mainly concerned with portfolios of prints containing sequences of linked images that gather their own inner momentum, likened to 'small but complete, portable exhibitions'. Tate St Ives until 11th May.

The Agony And The Ecstasy: Guido Reni's Saint Sebastians provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to see all together six of the seven St Sebastians painted by Guido Reni in the 17th century. The paintings from Madrid, Genoa, Rome, Ponce in Puerto Rico and Auckland in New Zealand can be seen in one room, alongside one of the best known works in the permanent collection (the seventh is in the Louvre and is too fragile to travel). Reni's paintings of the saint are remarkable as they respond to a religious subject by means of a sexually charged image. He painted several versions of St Sebastian following two main prototypes (or poses), and scholars have long debated the exact relationships between these canvasses. As well as providing the chance to compare and contrast the different versions, the exhibition sets out to establish the provenance of the works, and reveals the results of recent technical analysis, dispelling myths about copies, and also describes significant advances in what is known of early 17th century Italian patronage, painting, and cultural reputations. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 7th May.

Concluding

Ruination: Photographs Of Rome is an exhibition that brings together a series of arresting images of the architecture of ancient Rome, in its varying stages of decay and restoration, produced by pioneering photographers from the mid 19th century, and their successors in the late 20th century. Rome has been a compelling subject for photographers since the medium's earliest days, which made the recording of exotic architectural topography more accessible, as instanced by Robert McPherson's photograph of the Marcellus Theatre in its ruined glory in 1860. Images of Rome originally served as forms of truthful witness to the artistic splendours of the past. Once valued as replications of antique architecture and sculpture in situ, it is now their extraordinary power as images - their technical and artistic subtlety - that allow them to transcend their function as homages to the city. Contemporary photographers whose works are featured alongside those of the pioneers of the medium include Olivio Barbieri, Richard Billingham, Fiona Crisp and John Riddy. Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham, until 6th April.

Small Worlds - The Art Of The Invisible combines the worlds of art and science, displaying a selection from the contents of a cabinet of over 10,000 late 19th and early 20th century microscopic specimens slides. However, seeing the slides does not involve peering down a microscope, as the exhibition is a representation of the collection in art and poetry. Artist Heather Barnett, who specialises in exploring the intersection between contemporary art, science and technology, has worked in collaboration with performance poet Will Holloway, to create a site specific body of work in image, film, animation and poetry, in a strikingly designed immersive exhibition environment, including microbe-patterned wallpaper and curtains, drawings and photographs, and dynamic audio poems and animations. The slides were collected between 1860 and 1930, at a time when microscopy was a fashionable hobby. The specimens include not only classic material such as fungi, plant parts, human and animal tissue samples, minerals, and insects, but also less usual samples, such as a miniaturised photo of a hunting expedition. Many are displayed in gilt and wooden frames, evoking the spirit of microscopy in Victorian and Edwardian times. Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, until 6th April.

Joanna Kane: The Somnambulists - Photographic Portraits From Before Photography consists of a haunting series of photographic portraits taken from a famous Edinburgh collection of life and death masks. In the early 19th century it was common to have these masks made - a direct 3D imprint of the face of a person at the time of their death, and sometines in life of 'swoonings' or trances - as part of a romantic fixation with death. Using contemporary digital techniques, Joanna Kane has reached into the past to bring figures from Scottish history to life. Animating her portraits to suggest an illusory sense of the living subject of the cast, Kane magically renders photographic likenesses from before the age of photography. The exhibition poses questions about portraiture, the history and origins of photography, connections between photography and the life or death mask, and the influences of phrenology on art. The images are shown alongside examples of actual life and death masks from the collection of the Edinburgh Phrenological Society. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, until 6th April.