News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th September 2001


Surrealism: Desire Unbound is the first major British assessment of the Surrealist movement for twenty five years. During this period surrealist images have moved from the avant-garde fringe to the stuff of advertising campaigns, so the question is, can the works fulfil their original brief? On the strength of the pieces selected here the answer is yes. The usual suspects appear, including de Chirico, Dali, Duchamp, Max Ernst, Dalí, Giacometti, Man Ray, Magritte and Miro, together with other lesser known artists, and surrealist pieces by those whose main body of work lies outside the movement. The exhibition reveals the group's obsession with desire and sexuality and how it encompassed everything they did. Through painting, sculpture, installation and film, it charts the varied paths chosen to bypass conventional reason and rationality in order to explore the mind's potentially limitless capacity to imagine, dream and invent. The exhibition is dramatically staged in 13 themed sections, each taking its title from a well known work. Further information and an Online Surrealism Shop can be found on the Tate web site via the link opposite. Tate Modern until 1st January.

Nigel Henderson: Parallel Of Life And Art features the work of a key figure in post war British art, straddling the worlds of documentary photography and surrealist inspired collage making. It comprises a selection of the photographs taken in the East End of London in the early 1950s, his experimental 'stressed' photographs, and photograms and photocollages. The centrepiece is a recreation of the exhibition held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1953, which Henderson organised with Eduardo Paolozzi, Alison and Peter Smithson, and Ronald Jenkins. This ground breaking display featured photographs culled from a wide variety of sources - science, technology, nature, art and popular culture - which were blown-up and hung on screens and from the ceiling as well as on the walls, creating a 'total environment' in the exhibition space. Gainsborough's House, Sudbury until 25th November.

Rembrant's Women is the first major exhibition to examine how women were portrayed by Rembrandt. The women in his household, elderly mother Cornelia, blonde wife Saskia, son's nursemaid Geertje Dircks, and dark haired mistress Hendrickje Stoffels, provided the models for figures in large scale historical, mythological and biblical scenes. Rembrandt also made sketches of women going about their everyday business, providing a glimpse of seventeenth century domestic routine. His female figures are beautiful, yet unclassically realistic, depicting their bodies complete with imperfections, thus challenging perceptions of beauty in a way that his contemporaries found shocking. Twenty seven paintings, forty eight etchings and forty four drawings are displayed chronologically, demonstrating how Rembrandt developed certain themes depicting women, how his stylistic approach changed with the years, and how he kept returning to certain subjects throughout his life. Royal Academy of Arts until 16th December.


Walsall Illuminations, Britain's biggest inland illumination display, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, as lights and lasers transform Walsall's arboretum. The season starts with a procession from Walsall town centre that includes 350 pyramid shape lanterns made by local children, plus five 12ft long by 7ft high lanterns, each representing a decade from the last 50 years of pop music. Presumably this symbolises the triumph of exuberance over good taste. The illuminations themselves consist of lakeside lights, state of the art laser shows, floodlit gardens and over 50 different light scenes, including tableaux of favourite children's characters. In addition there are street entertainers, puppet shows, food stalls and fairground rides, plus extra Half Term events during the final week of the season. Walsall Arboretum until 28th October.

Public Artist, Private Passions: The World Of Edward Linley Sambourne. As a cartoonist with the satirical magazine Punch, Sambourne's graphic work was extremely well known, however, at the peak of his career, he was spending much of his time on a parallel and sometimes secret activity - photography. This exhibition examines Sambourne's camera work in detail, and describes the journey by which his gathering obsession with photography took him from the public realm of the political and social cartoon into the intensely private world of the erotic photograph. Sambourne, the great grandfather of Lord Snowdon, had discovered the medium as an aid to drawing, and by his death in 1910 had amassed a collection of over 50,000 cyanotype images. Sambourne's photography comprises an extraordinary range of subject matter, from comic studies used for cartoons and posed by family, friends and servants, to classical nudes and erotic photographs of famous models and actresses. It reopens the debate on the borderline between pornography and art, offering an unusual and different perspective. Among the materials never previously exhibited are a variety of props that Sambourne used in his work, drawings and photographs, and an assortment of camera equipment including the 'secret camera' for his more furtive photographs. Leighton House Museum, London until 13th January.

Shinto: The Sacred Art Of Ancient Japan presents ancient art and artefacts of Shinto - the way of the kami - the indigenous religious beliefs of Japan. The kami are gods of nature, some nameless and others personified in a mythological hierarchy, together with deified ancestral and historical figures. They were believed to reside in mountains, trees, rivers, rocks, waterfalls and other natural places. Worship of the kami expresses gratitude towards them and aims to secure their continued favour. The exhibition, which includes previously unseen works from the Imperial collection, examines the arts that were characteristic of Shinto during the Heian and Kamakura periods from the 8th to 14th centuries AD. By this time Buddhism and Shinto were amalgamated within Japanese religious beliefs and practices. A custom of installing the Three Sacred Treasures - sword, mirror and jewel - in shrines as spiritual vehicles of the kami, became common. Wooden masks were used for ritual dramas in temples and shrines. The most important of these dramas was kagura (kami enjoyment), from which Noh theatre developed. The exhibition also looks at the mysterious ritual beliefs from which Shinto evolved, drawing on archaeological evidence from Japanese prehistory. British Museum until 2nd December.

Experiment Experiencia: Art In Brazil 1958-2000 endeavours to capture the spirit of experimentation and dynamism of Brazilian art in the second half of the 20th century. Its vibrancy and colour is expressed in paintings, sculpture, film and installation by three generations of artists. Early abstract experiments of the Brazilian avant-garde led by Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica moved outside the frame to embrace 3-D constructions suspended from the ceiling and audience participation - including performances by children from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. In the 1960s and 1970s the work of artists such as Antonio Dias and Antonio Manuel became increasingly politicised in the repressive years of military dictatorship. The diverse art of recent times includes Jose Damasceno's floating black suit and Lygia Pape's curtain of ripening bananas (you had to be there). Museum Of Modern Art, Oxford until 21st October.

Lie Of The Land: The Secret Life Of Maps poses the question "Can you rely on a map to tell you where you are?" What we see on a map is rarely the same as the land under our feet. Some maps deliberately set out to deceive, many show a selective view, reflecting only the interests of the people who made them. Since all are a representation of a three dimensional world in a two dimensional form, they can only be an interpretation of the truth. This exhibition contains over a hundred examples in a variety of forms, from all over the world, spanning five centuries of mapmaking. Highlights include: Roman Britain mapped out - a forgery that fooled academics for over a hundred years; Paradise found - the Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel discovered in the Middle East; the earliest surviving terrestrial globe made in China in 1623 by two Europeans; the Red Lined Map used in the negotiations to end the American War of Independence; the first jigsaw ever produced in the form of a dissected map of Europe, made in 1766 by John Spilsbury; and World War II escape maps, made under the nose of the enemy. British Library until 7th April.

75 Years Of Creativity: A Rambert Dance Company Retrospective charts the creative highlights of the company that was founded by Marie Rambert in the classical tradition in 1926, but moved to a modern non-narrative repertoire in the 1960s. It draws on artefacts, designs and other materials from both the Rambert archive and the museum's permanent collection.

Margot Fonteyn Costumes celebrates the acquisition of five of the ballerina's costumes, in which she danced the roles of Aurora, Odile, Chloe and Juliet, which are on display for the first time, together with photographs of her in other roles.

Taking Shape is a journey through a landscape of changing shapes where everyday materials are transformed into animated worlds inhabited by the creations of Sue Buckmaster. Visitors can interact with moving sculptures and puppet characters, made out of anything from paper to metal, some from Buckmaster's past productions, and some made specially for this exhibition. The Theatre Museum until 28th October.


Paula Rego brings together a group of recent works, including several displayed for the first time, from large scale pastels and paintings to more intimate preparatory works on paper. Most important among the new pieces is Celestina's House, which represents the latest ideas and imagery in Rego's work, together with The Interrogator's Garden and The Wide Sargasso Sea. All tell a story and are crowded with her idiosyncratic character studies, which, though she now lives and works in Britain, are derived from her Mediterranean roots. Certainly they are not what you expect to find in the Lake District. As she progresses towards a final image, Rego produces sketches, drawings and watercolours in which her ideas develop and crystallise. A number of these works are included in the exhibition, showing Rego's process of weaving stories and narratives in paint and pastel, which are multi-layered, lyrical, often disturbing, and explore the depths of human experience. Abbot Hall Gallery, Kendal until 7th October.

The Beautiful And The Damned: The Creation Of Identity In 19th Century Photography looks at the social and cultural context of the development of the new medium of portrait photography from 1860 to 1900. The origins of the celebrity portrait, and the vogue for carte-de-visite - a small photographic portrait mounted on a piece of card - fuelled a fashion for collecting and classifying photographs of the face. It went hand in hand with a belief in the 'science' of physiognomy (which postulated that the face reflected the character), the study of genetics, and the belief systems and aesthetics of social Darwinism. This display juxtaposes images that celebrated eminence, beauty and intellect, with those representing the criminal, mentally unstable, and socially undesirable. Thus Lillie Langtry, Sara Bernhardt, scientists and artists, appear alongside images of murderers and the insane, as well as suffragettes (in essence the first use of the surveillance photograph),. National Portrait Gallery until 7th October.

Mind The Gap is a collection of quirky images of the London Underground system created by photographer Simon James. He captures the unusual and often unnoticed architectural details of the stations, trains and equipment to be found at the ends of the Tube lines. Since these locations are generally in the country, James presents a remarkably serine environment, quite at odds with the hurly burly of the everyday experience of using the system in the city centre. Tom Blau Gallery, Butler's Wharf London SE1 020 7940 9171 until 6th October.