News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th July 2006


Angus McBean: Portraits is the first retrospective devoted to one of the most significant British photographers of the 20th century. It brings together over 100 photographs in black and white and colour, including a large number of vintage prints. These reveal the full range of Angus McBean's work, from surrealist portraits of the 1930s, through a period as the most important photographer of theatre and dance personalities of the 1940s and 1950s, to his re-emergence as a chronicler of pop music, including his Beatles first album cover, in the 1960s. Highlights of the exhibition include the iconic 1951 photograph of the then unknown Audrey Hepburn, her head and shoulders emerging from sand and posed amidst classical pillars; Margot Fonteyn viewed through the legs of another dancer; a double image of Vivien Leigh; Spike Milligan's head mounted under a Victorian glass dome; Rene Ray's face superimposed on a mask; and West End producer Hugh 'Binkie' Beaumont as a puppeteer with a toy theatre. The 40 year spread of the exhibition also includes later photographs of Derek Jarman, Tilda Swinton, Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier. On show for the first time is the complete series of McBean's self-portrait Christmas cards which he produced between 1934 and 1985. These inventive and innovative portraits are displayed alongside theatrical props used in their composition, including a Mae West puppet, a marble 'Greek God' bust, bisque 'bathing beauties' and two 1930s papier mache masks of Greta Garbo and Ivor Novello. National Portrait Gallery until 22nd October.

Experience TV is a new £3m interactive gallery dedicated to the past, present and future of television. It draws on the largest collection of television technology in the world - cameras, receivers, recorders and related equipment and ephemera. Exhibits include John Logie Baird's original 'Televisor receptor' from 1926, made from a tea chest, hatbox, knitting needle and part of a bike, all held together with string and sealing wax; early televisions disguised as pieces of furniture from the 1930s, the first set top box: an adaptor which allowed BBC only sets to pick up the new ITV in 1955; and the first commercially available video recorder (the size of a small car with a screen 2 inches across) from 1956 - although though Logie Baird had made the first ever video recordings on 78rpm discs in 1927. Alongside are such icons as Wallace & Gromit, the Play School toys (reunited with their famous windows), a collection of Gerry Anderson's puppets, a Jim'll Fix It badge, copies of the Radio Times from the Coronation onwards, and inevitably, a Dalek. An archive library includes 1,000 programmes of all kinds, from Muffin the Mule to Big Brother, and a selection of iconic real life events that the world watched, not to mention the Martians from the Smash ads. The entire production process is explained, with a complete working studio and control gallery, where visitors can cast their own drama, act out their own murder mystery, and cut their own show live, plus a news studio where they can read a report, and a virtual blue screen studio so they can appear to be anywhere in the universe. National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford, continuing.

Howard Hodgkin is the first exhibition to span the entire career of one of the most important artists working in Britain today. Bringing together 60 of Howard Hodgkin's paintings from the 1950s to the present day, the exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view new work in the context of earlier decades. It traces the evolution of his vocabulary through the portraits on canvas of friends and interiors of the 1960s, to his adoption in the mid 1970s of the wooden panel and frame, defining painting as object, and through to the later, looser and more gestural paintings of the 1990s. Displayed broadly chronologically, the exhibition includes a group of Venetian paintings from the 1980s and new work never seen before. Binding together all his work is a consistent exploration of the representation of personal encounters, emotional experience and memories of specific events. Whether trips to India, Egypt or Morocco, or social occasions such as dinner with friends, particular moments are simultaneously reconstructed and obscured through a layering of the picture surface with distinct marks and intense colours, often achieved only over a period of several years. Neither wholly abstract nor figurative, his paintings attempt to recreate the intensity of experience. While associations have been made to Matisse, Vuillard, Degas and American abstract expressionist painting, as well as Pahari miniature paintings of which Hodgkin is an avid collector through his many trips to India, he has continued to forge a strongly independent path, developing a distinctive style. Tate Britain until 10th September.


The Jameel Gallery Of Islamic Art, is a £5.4m renovation and re-design by architects Softroom, which houses over 400 objects, including ceramics, textiles, carpets, metalwork, glass and woodwork, dating from the great days of the Islamic caliphate of the 8th and 9th centuries to the years preceding the First World War. The area covered stretches from Spain in the west to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan in the east, taking in important centres of artistic production in the Arab lands, Turkey and Iran. The star attraction of the display is the Ardabil carpet, the oldest dated, and one of the largest, most beautiful and historically important carpets in the world. Made in Iran in 1539, and an impressive 10.5m x 5m, it is displayed horizontally at floor level, as it would originally have been, for the first time since 1892. Among the other highlights are: Sultan Qa'itbay's richly decorated wooden minbar (or pulpit) over 6m high, from a mosque in Cairo, made in the late 15th century; the sword of Shah Tahmasp, inscribed with a long elegant inscription from the Qur'an on the subject of 'Victory'; a lamp from the Suleymaniye mosque in Istanbul made around 1557, the earliest example of Iznik pottery, with under-glaze decoration in red; the Isfahan cope, made in Iran in the 17th century, with a design that includes Islamic elements such as scrollwork motifs as well as Christian iconography; a rock crystal ewer from 11th century Egypt, carved from a single large piece of hard transparent rock crystal; and The Seven Sleepers tilework chimney piece, made in Istanbul in 1731. Victoria & Albert Museum, continuing.

The Starry Messenger: Visions Of The Universe explores man's ultimate quest in understanding the solar system. It examines visual representations by artists, scientists and thinkers throughout the ages, and how they have used various means to understand the mysteries of the universe and man's place in it - as well as considering the artist's role as transmitter of these ideas. The starting point is Galileo, whose observations marked a major turning point in the way that we view the world, and his book, Sidereus Nuncius (the eponymous Starry Messenger), and subsequent meeting with the poet John Milton, as described in the epic poem Paradise Lost. The exhibition explores the dreams and imagination of Western culture through the paintings of William Blake, John Martin and Odilon Redon, via the utopian worlds and dilemmas posed by science fiction, to contemporary works that question man's knowledge of life on earth. It includes paintings, drawings, photography, music, sculpture, science fiction magazines and large scale video installations. Artists represented include Glenn Brown, John Cage, John Flamsteed, Graham Gussin, David A. Hardy, William Kentridge, Steve McQueen, Aleksandra Mir, Heather and Ivan Morison, John Murphy, John Russell, Bridget Smith, Wolfgang Tillmans and Fred Tomaselli, together with a specially commissioned work by Paul McDevitt and Mark Titchner. Compton Verney, Warwickshire until 10th September.

The Horniman Aquarium, the first free public aquarium in Britain, which opened in 1903, has been reborn. The unique original folksy 'home made' aquarium that flanked the staircase to the basement has been replaced by a £1.5m, super aquarium, with 15 displays in 7 distinctive zones, providing authentic habitats that support more than 150 different species of animals and plants. 'Drawn to Water' displays a typical Victorian Parlour Aquarium alongside its inspiration, a painting of Sea Anemones by Philip Henry Gosse, the Victorian naturalist who was first responsible for introducing the word aquaria into the English language in 1854. 'British Pond Life' reveals the variety of life that is found in these endangered ecosystems. 'Drifters' is a display of seawater moon jellyfish, contained in one of Europe's largest specialist tanks that simulates the current of the oceans. 3D images of sea plankton illustrate how these life forms are the basis of the marine food chain and help to regulate the Earth's climate. 'Seashores' shows marine life found along the coastlines of the British Isles, including seahorses, and a north Devon rock pool, complete with crabs, shellfish and wave surges. There is also an endangered 'Fijian Coral Reef', one of the most bio-diverse hotspots in the world, a 'Mangrove Swamp' and a 'South American Rainforest', featuring flora and fauna such as the monkey frog and leopard catfish. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill London SE23, continuing.

Modigliani And His Models is the first major exhibition of the work of sculptor and painter Amedeo Modigliani to be held in Britain since the 1960s. It comprises around 55 works, encompassing nudes and portraits, together with sculptures and paintings of caryatids, selected to show particular aspects of his work. Modigliani has always been controversial, leading a satisfyingly dissolute and suitably short life, and establishing an instantly original and recognisable style, yet criticised for pursuing it rigorously. Modigliani almost exclusively painted people, portraits and nudes, most of which were executed in the last six years of his career, between 1913 and 1919. His signature style - swan necked elongated figures and faces with almond eyes - drew on a variety of sources: Renaissance to Rococo painting, the art of Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne and Brancusi, ancient Greek, African and Asian sculpture. As the exhibition title suggests, the works featured here are mostly of a succession of women with whom he had relationships as muse, model and mistress. These include the South African born British poet and critic Beatrice Hastings, as in 'Beatrice Hastings in Front of a Door', and his last mistress, the former art student Jeanne Hebuterne, seen in 'Jeanne Hebuterne Sitting' and 'Jeanne Hebuterne, a Door in the Background', who, though nine months pregnant, threw herself out of a fifth storey window on the day after his death. Other portraits, include friends and dealers such as 'Paul Guillaume Seated', and 'Portrait of Picasso', whom he encountered in the cafes and studios of Montparnasse, a crucible in which French and foreign artists, writers, musicians and critics worked side by side to create what is now called 'Modern art'. The Royal Academy of Arts until 15th October.

Building Stories charts the progress of the £27.9m restoration of Kelvingrove, Glasgow's favourite building, and prior to its closure, the most visited museum in Britain outside London. Using archive photographs and new images alongside video footage, the exhibition shows the changes, both dramatic and subtle, which have been made to the Glasgow landmark during 3 years of building work. Apart from cleaning and restoration, the most significant work was the opening up of the basement, previously used for storage and offices, which has provided a new temporary exhibition space, a conference and lecture theatre, education rooms, a restaurant, and shop. Overall there is now an additional 35% of floor space in use, with 8,000 items on display, in comparison to 5,000 previously. Within the refurbished structure, the display of the collection has been completely rethought, integrating the museum artefacts with the gallery works of art, to provide each with a better context. Among the highlights of the display are: Spitfire LA198 from the 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, hanging from the roof of the west court; the Charles Rennie Mackintosh gallery, including the Mackintosh Tearoom, after 9 years of restoration; Sir Roger, the elephant joined by a new giraffe; the winter/summer diorama, showing animals and birds in their seasonal pelts and feathers; the Ceratosaurus, a 40ft long dinosaur (no museum is complete without one); Glasgow Boys and Scottish Colourists galleries; Dali's 'Christ of St John of The Cross'; Rembrandt's 'A Man in Armour'; and the Egyptian collection, augmented by 80 treasures loaned from the British Museum. A unique combination - part National Gallery, part V&A, part British Museum and part Tate Gallery. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow continuing.

The Battle Of The Somme marks the 90th anniversary of one of history's most controversial battles. On 1st July 1916 the British Army suffered the heaviest losses ever inflicted on it in a single day, at the beginning of a 5 month campaign that would achieve an uncertain victory at a cost many then, and since, believed too high. The battle has fuelled debate throughout the past 90 years, and has been interpreted in many different ways by historians. This exhibition explores the facts and the perceptions of the Somme, and allows visitors to decide where they stand on a battle in which over 1,200,000 soldiers became casualties. It offers multiple perspectives on the Battle of the Somme: those of the British politicians faced with substantial Allied losses, the generals, their critics, and the voices of those who fought, and who died. The political, strategic, and technological imperatives that influenced the campaign are investigated, together with the effect of the battle on the progress of the War, public opinion about it at the time, and how it has been viewed in long term popular culture. It is remarkable that at last there is an open minded reassessment of the events, instead of the usual unquestioning acceptance of the 'lions led by donkeys' line fostered by a combination of outdated class war and unthinking sentimentality. National Army Museum, Chelsea until July 2007.


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 Peter Cook, David Mach and Alison Wilding, who have chosen the theme From Life, to inspire new work from artists responding to the concept of life and the business of living, across all the various media on display. Artists featured in this year's show include Georg Baselitz, Sandra Blow, Anthony Caro, Tracey Emin, Marcus Harvey, Damien Hirst, Ken Howard, Richard Long, Sarah Lucas, Grayson Perry, Gavin Turk and Richard Wentworth. There are also two memorial galleries dedicated to showing the works of the sculptor and printmaker Eduardo Paolozzi and the painter and printmaker Patrick Caulfield, both of whom died last year. An accompanying programme of lectures, events and workshops covers all aspects of the exhibition. Royal Academy of Arts until 20th August.

Soane's Magician: The Tragic Genius Of Joseph Michael Gandy explores the relationship between the British master architect John Soane, and Joseph Michael Gandy, who painted Soane's masterpieces in dramatic, luminous perspective views. Gandy's watercolours, over 30 of which are on display in this exhibition, are not only some of the most brilliant images of architecture ever painted in Britain, but they also tell the story of the most creative partnership of its type in the history of British architecture. As a student of architecture at the Royal Academy Gandy won the Gold Medal, and following a period studying in Italy, began work in Soane's office. Soane soon recognised that Gandy's genius lay in depicting architecture in perspective, with the use of striking lighting effects, so much so, that he was later dubbed 'The English Piranesi'. For the next 35 years Gandy drew Soane's designs, either to open a client's cheque book, to show a completed project at its best at the annual exhibitions at the Royal Academy, or simply to archive previous unbuilt schemes. Gandy was unique in his ability to express on paper Soane's manipulation of space and light, and the two men shared an idealism unique to the period. As Soane's career came to a close in the 1820s, Gandy painted dozens of huge perspectives imagining London reconstructed by Soane as a monumental neo-classical city of triumphal arches and heroic sculpture. Sir John Soane Museum, London until 12th August.

Undercover Surrealism: Picasso, Miro, Masson And The Vision Of Georges Bataille presents a fresh view of Surrealism, set against the cultural cross currents of Paris in the late 1920s. Painting, film, sculpture, music, photography, masks, manuscripts and ritual objects are all subject to the forensic eye of writer and critic Georges Bataille. His magazine Documents, which ran from 1929 to 1930, confronted the movement, juxtaposing art, ethnography, archaeology and popular culture in such a way that conventional notions of 'primitive' and 'ideal' were overturned. Bataille described himself as Surrealism's 'enemy from within', and his dark, materialist vision of human desires and radical pessimism challenged the idealism of the surrealists with a radical questioning of Western values, of notions of the primitive, ritual, popular culture and of the whole edifice of high art. The exhibition features works by both well known and lesser known artists, including Miro, Dali, Klee, Giacometti, Brancusi, Boiffard, De Chirico, Arp, Nadar, Belmer, Meguerditchian, Bunuel and Ernst, and an entire room of Picassos. The principle of juxtaposition, and of the unexpected visual links that animated Documents, are played out throughout the exhibition, with counter positions such as that of Hollywood film and Picasso's 'Three Dancers', and Faujour's photographs of Parisian slaughterhouses and Masson's paintings, together with the rhythm of Duke Ellington. Hayward Gallery until 30th July.