Private View held by Richard Andrews
Barocci: Brilliance And Grace showcases the remarkable fertility of imagination and the diversity of working methods of the artist who was a pioneer of the Baroque. The exhibition assembles the majority of Federico Barocci's greatest altarpieces and paintings, together with sequences of preparatory drawings, revealing how each picture evolved. From his earliest creations of the 1550s, Barocci challenged pictorial convention by positioning his figures in dynamic spatial arrangements, anticipating by almost half a century the innovations of Baroque art. He was an incessant and even obsessive draughtsman, preparing every composition with prolific studies in every conceivable medium. Fascinated and inspired by people and animals, he infused his compositions with infectious charm and an unparalleled sensitivity to colour. Spiritually attuned by nature, Barocci was predominantly a painter of religious subjects, his approach epitomising the clarity and accessibility required by a Catholic church. Barocci's unique warmth and humanity transformed familiar gospel stories and more unusual visions into transcendent archetypes with universal appeal. Highlights include Barocci's most spectacular altarpiece, 'The Entombment of Christ' from the town of Senigallia; ''Last Supper' painted for Urbino Cathedral; the 'Visitation' from the Chiesa Nuova and the 'Institution of the Eucharist' from Santa Maria sopra Minerva. In addition, the exhibition includes Barocci's finest portraits, smaller devotional paintings, and his only secular narrative, 'Aeneas Flight from Troy', plus more than 65 preparatory drawings, pastel studies and oil sketches, the latter techniques pioneered by Barocci long before they became standard artistic practice. National Gallery until 19th May.
Roger Mayne: Aspects Of A Great Photographer features the work of the photographer who made his name when he sought to record a way of life in a rundown area of North Kensington in the late 1950s, before it was redeveloped as part of a slum clearance scheme. Working with a lightweight Zeiss Super Ikonta camera and bolstered by gaining the trust of his subjects, Roger Mayne was able to capture the vigour and poverty around him. His pictures have added poignancy as they chronicle the end of an era when it was still safe for children to play in the streets. From the 1960s onwards, Mayne turned his eye to similar outdoor scenes in Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow, the Mediterranean, Japan and China, latterly focusing on the development of his own children and grandchildren. Mayne's many friendships with leading artists of the day influenced his approach and resulted in telling portraits of Henry Moore, Terry Frost, Roger Hilton, Gillian Ayres and others. Also included in the exhibition are some of Mayne's lyrical and expressive drawings of landscapes and nudes. By surveying all aspects of Mayne's career, this exhibition highlights less well known aspects of his work and proves that photography can be as creative an art form as painting and sculpture. Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, until 7th April.
Piranesi's Paestum: Master Drawings Uncovered brings together for the first time since the artist's death all 17 drawings from last great graphic project. The Paestum drawings were the preparatory work for Giovanni Battista Piranesi's Differentes Vues de Pesto, finished by his son Francesco and published posthumously in 1778. They depict views of the three great Doric temples in the former Greek colony of Poseidonia, colonised by the Romans and re-named Paestum. Left abandoned, and later cut off by a malarial swamp, the ruins of the colony were rediscovered in 1746 during the construction of a new road. Its massive and well-preserved Doric temples dedicated to Poseidon, Hera and Athena sparked renewed interest among artists and architects, and inspired drawings, prints, paintings and models, which revolutionised understanding of early Greek Classical architecture. The highly finished drawings reveal insights into the ideas of the graphic artist whose work has influenced designers from Escher to the makers of the Harry Potter films, and sheds new light on the considerable impact of his work on 18th century architectural taste. The Paestum drawings are highly unusual in Piranesi's portfolio. Although he usually made preparatory drawings for his etchings, much of the composition was often worked directly on to the copper plate at the engraving stage. These drawings contain a level of detail very close to the finished prints, and it is thought that perhaps, aware of his failing health, Piranesi included as much detail as possible for his son to finish the work he had begun. He uses the full repertoire of his draughtsmanship to create images that both accurately describe the architecture of the Paestum temples and bring out their evocative, rustic setting. Multi-layering of pencil, brown and grey washes and pen and ink, sometimes with the addition of red chalk or white chalk highlights, creates a layered effect which can be compared to the repeated bitings in the resulting etchings. Sir John Soane Museum, London, until 18th May.
Man Ray Portraits focuses on the photographic portraiture of one of the most innovative and influential artists of his generation. Man Ray's versatility and experimentation as an artist is illustrated throughout his photography although this was never his chosen principal artistic medium. The exhibition comprises over 150 vintage prints from Man Ray's career taken between 1916 and 1968, with portraits of his celebrated contemporaries shown alongside often intimate portraits of friends and his social circle. These include Marcel Duchamp, Berenice Abbott, Andre Breton, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, James Joyce, Erik Satie, Henri Matisse, Barbette, Igor Stravinsky, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dali, Le Corbusier, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Coco Chanel and Wallis Simpson. Also on show are portraits of his lovers Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin) and Lee Miller, who was also his assistant and collaborator, Ady Fidelin, and his last muse and wife Juliet Browner. Although born in America, Man Ray moved to Paris in 1921, where, as a contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, he was perfectly placed to make defining images of his contemporaries from the avant-garde. In this period he was instrumental in developing and producing a type of photogram which he called 'Rayographs', and is credited in rediscovering and developing, alongside Lee Miller, the process of solarisation. This can be seen in the portraits of Elsa Schiaparelli, Irene Zurkinden, Lee Miller, Suzy Solidor and his own 'Self-Portrait with Camera'. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Man Ray moved to Hollywood, where subjects included Ruth Ford, Paulette Goddard, Ava Gardner, Tilly Losch and Dolores del Rio. Returning to Paris in 1951 he experimented with colour photography in portraits of Juliette Greco, Yves Montand and Catherine Deneuve. National Portrait Gallery until 27th May.
Quentin Blake: Drawn By Hand looks at individual works produced in the past few years by Britain's premier 'pen and ink' artist. Although Quentin Blake is best known as a book illustrator, with his grand total now topping 325, and in particular for his iconic images of the characters from stories by Roald Dahl, over the last decade he has also produced individual etchings, lithographs, drawings and works in various and contrasting media. This exhibition offers a chance to sample those, and in particular, an original in watercolour pastel from the sequence 'The Life of Birds', as well as originals, drawn in reed-pen and watercolour, from two series of pictures of mothers and their babies swimming underwater that decorate the maternity unit of Angers Hospital in France, and the Rosie Birth Centre at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. In addition there are illustrations from David Walliams's book The Boy in the Dress. These works are accompanied by a display of pens, brochures, inks, watercolours, etching plates and other materials from Blake's studio, giving an insight into his working methods. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 12th May.
Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901 offers the chance to consider the early development of one of the towering figures of 20th century art, at a time when he was still just a young Spanish hopeful in Paris. The exhibition focuses on Pablo Picasso's figure paintings of 1901, and explores his development during this seminal year, when he found his own artistic voice and established his early reputation. It reunites major paintings from his debut exhibition with the influential dealer Ambroise Vollard, which show the young painter taking on and transforming the styles and subjects of major modern artists of the age, such as Van Gogh, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. In the second half of 1901, Picasso radically changed the direction of his art, heralding the beginning of his now famous Blue period. Inspired partly by the recent suicide of a close friend, Picasso produced a group of profoundly moving paintings of melancholic figures that are considered to be among his first masterpieces. They are also among the earliest paintings to bear the famously assertive and singular Picasso signature, which he adopted at that time. Among the highlights are 'Dwarf-Dancer', 'At the Moulin Rouge', 'The Blue Room', 'Absinthe Drinker', 'Seated Harlequin', 'Harlequin and Companion', 'Child with a Dove', 'Evocation (The Burial of Casagemas)' a radical and highly unusual painting that challenged the conventions of religious art, and 'Yo - Picasso', one of his most powerful and famous self-portraits. Courtauld Gallery, London, until 26th May.
Ice Age Art: Arrival Of The Modern Mind comprises over 100 masterpieces of Ice Age sculpture, ceramics, drawing and personal ornaments. These include the oldest known ceramic figures in the world, as well as the oldest known portrait and figurative pieces, all of which were created over 20,000 years ago. Rather than archaeological finds, these striking objects are presented as art made long ago by people with developed brains like our own. Archaeological evidence reveals that the modern brain emerged just over 100,000 years ago with the appearance of art and complex behavior patterns. This exhibition demonstrates how the creators of these works had brains that had the capacity to express themselves symbolically through art and music. One example is a 23,000 year old mammoth ivory sculpture of an 'abstract' figure from Lespugue, France. Picasso was so fascinated with this 'cubist' piece that he kept two copies of it. This figure demonstrates a visual brain capable of abstraction, the essential quality needed to acquire and manipulate knowledge which underpins our ability to analyse what we see. Works by major modern artists including Picasso, Henry Moore and Matisse are included to establish connections across time, highlighting the fundamental human desire to create works of great beauty. This can be appreciated in a striking drawing of two deer engraved on a piece of bone found in the cave of Le Chaffaud, Vienne, France. The deer are well composed within the space and positioned with considered perspective so that they appear to be standing side by side with one slightly behind the other. The works display a variety of ways of encapsulating movement which are the precursors of modern animation and cinema. This theme is further explored in an installation recreating the extraordinary artistry of the great painted caves such as Chauvet, Lascaux and Altamira, to provide the surreal experience of viewing paintings deep underground in the flickering light of burning torches and fat lamps. British Museum until 26th May.
Painted Pomp: Art And Fashion In The Age Of Shakespeare combines portraits and rare survivals of dress from the period to reveal the heights of the art and fashion of 400 years ago. One of the most important groups of Jacobean portraits in the country forms the centrepiece of this exhibition. Nine full length portraits by William Larkin, painted around 1613-18, depict members of an extended family, relatives of Thomas Howard, the first Earl of Suffolk. They may have been made to mark a marriage between the Cecil and Howard families, two of the most powerful Jacobean courtly families during an unsettled period of intrigue and social change. The most striking features of the portraits are the costumes, recorded by the artist in painstaking detail to reflect the huge wealth and status of the sitters. Some extraordinary fashion statements are also captured, including shoe laces threaded through the ear of the 4th Earl of Dorset, and the startling decolletage of Lady Isabel Rich. The paintings record not only the richness of the fabrics and fashions in exquisite detail, but also current ideas of beauty, such as elaborately dressed hair, and skin so pale and translucent as to reveal the blue veins beneath. To help bring the portraits alive, they are accompanied by a selection of early 17th century clothing and accessories. These include an embroidered bodice, rare fans, shoes, beautiful punto in aria lace (literally 'stitches in the air'), gloves embroidered in silks and trimmed with gold and silver, and elaborate men's shirts of fine blackwork embroidery and cutwork. Holburne Museum, Bath, until 6th May
Extinction: Not The End Of The World? tells stories that encompass lost species, survivors of mass extinctions, and those currently endangered. Although over 99% of all species that roamed the earth are now extinct, a rich mix of animals and plants survive. In this exhibition astonishing images and interactive installations bring to life some of those amazing lost species, from the dinosaur to the Irish elk, bizarre insects and super-sized birds, including a new more historically accurate model of the icon of extinction, the dodo, raphus cucullatus. The display celebrates those that have survived past mass extinctions, such as the leatherback turtle, and those that have even returned from the dead. Alongside dramatic photos and film footage, there are 80 real specimens, including the 6ft skull of a 65 million year old chasmosaurus belli - one of the last dinosaurs, the 12ft head and antlers of an extinct Irish elk, the skull of a sabre-tooth tiger, an enormous elephant bird egg, and tiny live Mexican pupfish, cyprinodon longidorsalis, which only exist today because they were saved by the London Zoo when their habitat was drained. The display also highlights those species that are endangered today, with an 8ft model of a bluefin tuna, thunnus thynnus, a Californian condor, a 4ft giant clam, and an adult tiger, panthera tigris, of which only 3,000 remain in the wild. Natural History Museum until 8th September.
'So Peculiarly English': Topographical Watercolours charts the development of topography in Britain over 100 years. Since the early 19th century, the term 'topography' has been used in Britain to define the description, mapping or representation of the features of a given area. This genre is associated with the medium of watercolour. Early topographical paintings were primarily used as an objective record of an actual place in an era before photography, as land surveillance maps, for military strategy, for the aristocracy to show off their estates, and for archaeological digs. The exhibition surveys topography, from the scientific observation of Penn and architectural views of Malton, to picturesque landscapes by Turner, Constable and Gainsborough, ending with the changes in representation in the early 20th century, exemplified by Clausen. Among the highlights are Turner's 'Inside Tintern Abbey' and 'Warkworth Castle, Northumberland', and Constable's 'Stonehenge'. Victoria & Albert Museum until 12th March.
Charlotte, The Forgotten Princess examines the life of the nation's first people's princess. The only daughter of George IV, Princess Charlotte of Wales, captured the hearts of the country, and was referred to as the Daughter of England. When she died in 1817 at the age of just 21, having given birth to a stillborn son, there was a national outpouring of grief. Drapers' shops ran out of black fabric, commemorative souvenirs were produced, and the public mourning was exceeded only by that which followed the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Charlotte's death, and the death of her son, changed the course of British history, since she would have become Queen had she outlived her father and grandfather, and thus Queen Victoria is unlikely to have succeeded to the throne. It also lead to Richard Croft, Charlotte's midwife, shooting himself three months later, unable to cope with the torrent of criticism in the media backlash after her death. The exhibition looks at the life and tragic death of the Princess through a range of exhibits, including personal items such as her handwritten music book, along with paintings, prints, ceramics, jewellery and glassware. Highlights include Charlotte's Russian-style dress and a silver and white evening gown; a bust of the Princess; a baby's shift she wore as an infant; a gown made as part of a layette for the baby she was expecting; and a commemorative vase that was discovered in a shop in Mexico. Royal Pavilion, Brighton, until 10th March.
Valentino: Master Of Couture celebrates the life and work of the legendary Italian fashion designer. The exhibition offers a rare glimpse behind the closed doors of the world of Valentino Garavani, known simply as Valentino, who founded his eponymous fashion house in Rome in the late 1950s, and has since established an illustrious career designing for the world's most glamorous women, from royalty to Hollywood stars. It showcases over 130 hand crafted designs worn by icons such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Gwyneth Paltrow. Featuring dresses from the couture catwalk and red carpet, as well as designs commissioned by private clients, the show brings together a comprehensive collection of couture, much of which has never been seen outside the Valentino atelier. The atelier crafted design each so diligently by hand, taking hours, sometimes days to complete. The detailing is incredibly intricate, but as the dresses have rarely been seen outside the runway shows and events, this is the first opportunity for their fineness to be appreciated. Among the highlights are the vintage dress worn by Julia Roberts when she won an Academy Award in 2001, Jackie Onassis's wedding dress from the 1968 White Collection, and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece's pearl-encrusted ivory silk wedding gown, which she wore to marry Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece in 1995. In a reversal of the usual roles, visitors progress down a catwalk, and the 'audience' is dressed in Valentino's designs, with evening gowns, dresses, trouser suits, minis, capes and kaftans, providing a journey through fashion from the 1950s to today. Somerset House, London, until 3rd March.