Private View held by Richard Andrews
A Victorian Obsession brings together paintings from an exceptional collection and a unique setting. Over some years, Mexican businessman Perez Simon has been one of the world's most prominent collectors of British 19th century art, and for the first time in Britain a selection of works from his collection is on show to the public. Located on the edge of Holland Park in Kensington, Leighton House was the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton. Built to designs by George Aitchison, it was extended and embellished over a period of 30 years to create a private palace of art. Rather than being displayed as in a gallery, the 50 paintings (some of which originally belonged to Leighton) are hung throughout the historic interiors of the house, fulfilling its original intention. Included are four pictures by Leighton himself, including 'Crenaia, the nymph of the Dargle', returning to the house in which they were painted. Lawrence Alma-Tadema's 'The Roses of Heliogabalus', one of the iconic images of Victorian art, is exhibited in London for the first time since 1913. Also on display are outstanding pictures by Albert Moore, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, John Everett Millais, John William Waterhouse, Edward Poynter, Frederick Goodall, John Strudwick and John William Godward amongst others. These artists knew Leighton and were entertained at his house. The combination of the house and the paintings makes this a one-off aesthetic experience for anyone interested in the art of the 19th century. Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road, London W12, until 14th February.
Reality: Modern And Contemporary British Painting celebrates the strength of British painting with some of the best and most influential artists of the last 60 years. The exhibition brings together over 50 works from major 20th century artists including Walter Sickert, Francis Bacon, Stanley Spencer, Lucian Freud, L S Lowry, David Hockney and Paula Rego, alongside young contemporary painters including Ken Currie, George Shaw, Caroline Walker, Sam Jackson, Ken Currie and Anthony Green. Uncompromising and direct, the work of each artist represented retains a strong reference to the real world, 'the stuff of life'. They tackle a diverse range of subjects, referencing the body, relationships, history, politics, war, the urban environment and social issues, but the works are all united by two things - the harsh realities that have concerned key British artists over the decades and the simple act of painting. Highlights include Walter Sickert's 'Ennui', capturing the banality of everyday life at the beginning of the 20th century, complemented by David Hockney's 'My Parents', painted over 60 years later; George Shaw's depictions of his home town, Coventry, revealing the mystery of the mundane, the absence of human life and the unfamiliarity of the familiar, alongside David Hepher's expansive urban landscapes capturing the lives of the inhabitants who he has chosen to omit from the canvas; and Caroline Walker's voyeuristic paintings in which women seem unaware that they are being observed, either half-clothed or naked, while the figures in Chris Steven's works challenge preconceptions about people, exploring identity, class, race, gender and the environment. Sainsbury Gallery, Norwich, until 1st March.
The Institute Of Sexology is a candid exploration of the most publicly discussed of private acts, and those who have investigated human sexuality. It is the first major display since the £17.5m transformation of the venue by architects Wilkinson Eyre, bringing new areas into public use and linking layers of activity with a dramatic new spiral staircase and interconnected galleries. Featuring over 200 objects spanning art, rare archival material, erotica, film and photography, medical artefacts and ethnography, this is the first British exhibition to bring together the pioneers of the study of sex. From Alfred Kinsey's complex questionnaires to the contemporary National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), the exhibition investigates how the practice of sex research has shaped our ever-evolving attitudes towards sexual behaviour and identity. Moving between pathologies of perversion and contested ideas of normality, it shows how sex has been observed, analysed and questioned from the late 19th century to the present day. The show tells the complex and often contradictory story of the study of sex through its pioneers, including Magnus Hirschfeld, Sigmund Freud, Marie Stopes, Alfred Kinsey, Margaret Mead, William Masters and Virginia Johnson, and the team behind Natsal. It traces the experiments and studies that lifted taboos in the pursuit of truths about sex and tells the remarkable personal stories of those whose questions made it a legitimate field for discussion and study. The display also features contemporary artworks exploring sexual identity by artists Zanele Muholi, John Stezaker, Sharon Hayes and Timothy Archibald. Wellcome Collection, 183 London Road, London NW1, until 20th September.
Germany: Memories Of A Nation focuses on the shaping of the nation's identity through objects that form part of a narrative stretching back over the past 600 years. Germany's history is one of the most complex and important in Europe and has had a profound effect on its past, present and future. The exhibition reflects on a number of key themes: floating frontiers; empire and nation; arts and achievement; crisis and memory. From the most famous and iconic portrait of any German in history, the huge 'Goethe in der Campagna' by Tischbein, to an early edition of Grimm's Fairy tales, to a home–made banner from the demonstrations of late 1989 cut in the shape of a united Germany and carrying the inscription "Wir sind ein Volk (we are one people)", the 200 objects on show here tell diverse and fascinating stories embodying the memories shared by all Germans. Events and people touched upon include the production of the Gutenberg Bible in the early 1450s, marking the creation of modern Europe; Germany's contribution to printmaking and in particular the genius of Albrecht Durer, the first great artist in a mass-produced medium; the rediscovery of porcelain technique by the Meissen factory; the revolutionary design work of Walter Gropius's Bauhaus school; banknotes issued during the period of hyperinflation to financial crisis in the 1920s; a replica gate from the Buchenwald concentration camp, with its inscription in elegant Bauhaus lettering stating 'to each his own'; and Ernst Barlach's 'Der Schwebende', a mourning figure in bronze designed for Gustrow Cathedral as a memorial to those who died in the First World War, which has become a distillation of Germany's 20th century history and a symbol of the strength of reconciliation. British Museum until 25th January.
High Spirits: The Comic Art Of Thomas Rowlandson examines life at the turn of the 19th century through the work of one of the leading caricaturists of Georgian England. The absurdities of fashion, the perils of love, political machinations and royal intrigue were the daily subject matter of Thomas Rowlandson. Satirical prints, the precursor of the newspaper cartoon, were a key part of life in Georgian England, and Rowlandson was working at a time when English satirical prints were prized by collectors across Europe. A number of the works in the exhibition were purchased by George, Prince of Wales, later Prince Regent and King George IV. Ironically the Prince was often the butt of caricaturists' jokes and sometimes tried to prevent the publication of images that he felt were particularly offensive. The exhibition features over 90 of Rowlandson's drawings and prints, offering a new perspective on an era perhaps best known through the novels of Jane Austen. Collected by fashionable society, they were also enjoyed by the crowds that gathered in front of the latest productions in print shop windows to gossip about and laugh at the scandals of the day. Favourite themes were drunken gatherings, runaway coaches, rowdy theatregoers, impoverished artists and 'loose' women. Caricatures were passed around at dinner parties and in coffee houses, pasted into albums and used to decorate walls in homes and coffee houses. They were even applied to decorative screens, which could easily be folded away so not to offend female guests with the often bawdy imagery, and an example, decorated with hundreds of figures and scenes painstakingly cut from Rowlandson's satirical prints, is on display. The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath, until 8th February.
Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude focuses on some of the most unflinching depictions of the naked human figure created in modern times, which reinvented the subject for the 20th century. The collection of 38 drawings and watercolours, showing Egon Schiele's mastery of colour and line, span his short but urgent career. The display highlights Schiele's technical virtuosity, highly original vision and uncompromising depiction of the naked figure, including a number of his self-portraits, demonstrating how his approach was closely tied to his introspective examination of his physical and psychological make-up. The show explores how Schiele's provocative nudes pushed artistic conventions through a direct expression of human experience, fears and desires. The works are bound up with themes of self-expression, procreation, sexuality and eroticism. Rather than just depict conventional artists' models in familiar poses, he took as his subjects an unusual variety of people including himself, his sister, male friends, his lovers and wife, female prostitutes, pregnant women and babies observed in a medical clinic, and a number of young female models. Schiele's subjects often act out a striking body language, assuming expressive or painfully twisted poses, frequently explicit in their nudity. Many of these works affronted contemporary standards of morality and were considered pornographic by some. Today, these works are celebrated for challenging outmoded conventions of the nude in high art of the period and for investing the genre with a new and distinctly modern relevance. The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London, until 18th January.
Gold celebrates the beauty and symbolism of the rare and precious metal from the Early Bronze Age to the 20th century. Through 50 items the exhibition explores the distinctive qualities that make gold an enduring expression of the highest status, both earthly and divine. Over millennia and across diverse cultures, gold has been used to represent and reflect royal wealth and power. Among the most striking examples in the exhibition are the Rillaton gold cup, from a Bronze Age burial around 1700 - 1500 BC; a gold crown from Ecuador that pre-dates the Inca invasion; and a tiger's head in gold and rock crystal from the throne of 18th century Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore in India. Other highlights include a design from 1760 by Sir William Chambers and Giovanni Battista Cipriani for the Gold State Coach, the most expensive coach ever made, which has been used at every coronation since that of George IV, together with John Whittaker's illustrated account of the 'Ceremonial of the Coronation of King George IV in the Abbey of St Peter's Westminster', printed entirely in gold; a pair of 18th century lacquer and gilt bronze Japanese bowls; a cigarette case by Carl Faberge, presented to King Edward VII by the Dowager Tsarina of Russia in 1903, made from three colours of gold; 'The Padshahnama (Chronicle of the King of the World)', written on paper flecked with gold, forming an official record of the first ten years of the reign of Shah-Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal; an early 16th century Book of Hours illustrated with gilded miniatures by Jean Pichore; Simon van de Passe's engraved gold portrait medallion of Elizabeth I; and the Ascot Gold Cup won by Edward VII. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 22nd February.
Private Lives Of Print: The Use And Abuse Of Books 1450 - 1550 reveals that books were simultaneously cherished and embellished, mistreated and even vandalised in the first century of the printed age. The exhibition examines how the earliest owners of books produced with the new technology of print using moveable type interacted with their books. Scholars and students often recorded their comments in the margins, while additions of quotations, music, domestic accounts, medical recipes, doodles and drawings of all kinds were common. The 54 lavishly printed treasures include unique copy of the Gutenberg Bible; a hand-coloured copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle, the most heavily illustrated book of the 15th century; a Book of Hours annotated by Katherine Parr; a copy of the Book of St Albans, the first colour printed book in English, a gentleman's guide to heraldry, hawking and hunting, with the addition of a rough pencil sketch of a passionate couple in flagrante delicto; and a copy of the Hypnerotomachia poliphili, an eccentric romance poem, considered by many to be the most beautifully designed book of the Renaissance, with its 16 year old owner's own poem added in the front in 1518. Early printers mimicked the products of the flourishing manuscript trade and consequently many early printed books were painstakingly decorated by hand. The exhibition features illuminations from some of the leading Italian artists of the period, including the Master of the London Pliny. Cambridge University Library, until 11th April.
Giovanni Battista Moroni is a definitive survey of the work of one of the greatest painters of the 16th century. Giovanni Battista Moroni was not only a distinctive portraitist, but also as a fine religious painter, a role for which he is lesser known. For the first time, a number of altarpieces from the churches of the Diocese of Bergamo, northern Italy, are displayed alongside examples of Moroni's portraiture, chronologically charting his rise to the summit of Italian 16th century painting. Moroni captured the exact likeness, character and inner life of his sitters with rare penetrating insight, as revealed in 'Portrait of a Lady', 'A Knight with a Jousting Helmet', 'Portrait of a Gentleman and His Two Daughters', 'The Duke of Albuquerque' and 'The Tailor'. The portraits depict members of the society in which Moroni lived, a cast of compelling Renaissance characters whose lives played out the feuds and family dramas of a pro-Spanish aristocracy living under the Republic of Venice. In capturing the world around him, Moroni's works also offer a vivid record of the fashions, revealing changes in costume as the colourful silks of the portraits of 'Isotta Brembati' and 'Gian Gerolamo Grumelli' yield to the more sombre styles of the Spanish fashion, seen in the portrait of 'Pietro Secco Suardo'. Moroni's religious paintings were completed in accordance with the principles of the Counter-Reformation, in which a worshipper is often depicted as a witness to a sacred scene, as in 'The Last Supper' and 'A Gentleman in Adoration Before the Baptism of Christ'. Royal Academy of Arts until 25th January.
Jasper Johns: Regrets is a series of new works by the internationally renowned American artist, inspired by a chance encounter with a 1964 photograph of Lucian Freud posing in Francis Bacon's London studio. The drawings and paintings convey Jasper Johns's creative process and his ability to transform and recast an image in numerous different ways. The photograph, taken by John Deakin, shows Freud seated on a brass bedstead, his hands covering his face in an ambiguous gesture of introspection. It was commissioned and used by Francis Bacon as the source material for one of his own paintings, eventually becoming the basis of 'Study for Self-Portrait'. Johns incorporates not only the subject of the photograph itself, but the physically distressed qualities of the original print, which Bacon had torn, creased and smudged in the course of his work. The missing sections, tears and folds of the original play a prominent role in Johns' composition throughout the series. Johns explored and transformed the image in numerous experiments in oil, watercolour, pencil and ink. In the process he mirrored and doubled the original image, and in doing so, the form of a skull emerged unexpectedly in the centre of his new composition. This 'apparition' creates a reminder of death or memento mori at the heart of the works. Two large paintings and a group of works in ink on plastic are particular highlights of the series and are testament to Johns' profound engagement with his subject, conveying themes of creativity, memory, reflection and mortality. Most of the works are signed and titled 'Regrets - Jasper Johns', seemingly a reference to their profound and contemplative mood, but this signature and title actually derives from a rubber stamp Johns had made some years previously to swiftly decline the stream of requests and invitations that he regularly receives. Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London, until 14th December.
Anselm Kiefer is the first major British retrospective of the work of one of the most important German artists of the latter part of the 20th century. The exhibition presents the epic scale of Anselm Kiefer's artwork and the breadth of media he has used throughout his 40 year career, including painting, sculpture, photography and installation. Kiefer has created a number of pieces specifically for this exhibition, showcasing his continued interest in seeking new challenges and producing ever more ambitious works. Kiefer's fascination with history and the work of past masters permeates his subject matter. From mythology to the Old and New testaments, Kabbalah, alchemy, philosophy and the poetry of Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann, Kiefer's work wrestles with the darkness of German history and considers the complex relationship between art and spirituality. His technical use of materials such as clay, ash, earth, lead, fabric and dried flowers amongst others, adds further symbolism and depth to his work. Highlights include photographs and paintings from the controversial 'Occupations' and 'Heroic Symbols' series recording Kiefer's re-enactment of the Nazi salute in locations across Europe, made in the belief that one must confront rather than supress the experiences of history; paintings from his 'Attic' series including 'Father, Son and the Holy Ghost' and 'Notung', depicting renderings of wooden interior spaces based on the studio space he was occupying in Walldurn-Hornbach; and monumental architectural paintings, such as 'To the Unknown Painter', reflecting on the neo-classicist buildings of Hitler's architect Albert Speer. The exhibition considers the key themes and the diverse, personal iconography that Kiefer has created in his work and the influence of place on his pieces. Royal Academy until 14th December.
Ordinary Beauty: The Photography Of Edwin Smith is a retrospective of one of Britain's foremost 20th century photographers. Edwin Smith captured the essence of the everyday in the people, places, landscapes and buildings that he photographed. His images connote a particular kind of Britishness, one which is eccentric and often nostalgic, and his work was, in part, a plea on behalf of Britain's architectural heritage. This exhibition features over 100 images from his collection of over 60,000 negatives and 20,000 prints, from the 1930s to the 1960s. Smith was highly sought-after by publishers, and in the 1950s he was commissioned by Thames & Hudson for a series of books, among them 'English Parish Churches', 'English Cottages & Farmhouses', 'Scotland', 'England' and 'The Living City: A New View of the City of London'. His work also featured in Vogue, Shell Guides and numerous other publications to illustrate features and books on subjects varying from 'Great Houses of Europe' to 'The Wonders of Italy'. From urban scenes documenting British social history to evocative landscape images and atmospheric interiors, the images displayed reveal the genius and breadth of his work. Alongside his images of Britain the exhibition shows photographs taken on his travels to Europe as well as his published books and photographic equipment. Specially filmed contributions ranging from Alan Bennett to broadcaster Gillian Darley offer personal perspectives of Smith's work. RIBA Architecture Gallery, 66 Portland Place, London W1, until 6th December.