News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th April 2011


An American Experiment: George Bellows And The Ashcan Painters introduces an important moment in the history of American painting to Britain. The paintings in this exhibition by George Bellows and his artist friends William Glackens, George Luks, John Sloan and their teacher Robert Henri have not been seen in the UK before. The Ashcan School was formed at the beginning of the 20th century as painters, principally in New York City and Philadelphia, began to develop a uniquely American point of view on the beauty, violence and velocity of the modern world, and a find new way to represent them. The most familiar reading of the Ashcan painters is as urban realists who embraced the brutal but vivid life of the city as their subject, and found stark visual language through which to communicate their realities to a contemporary audience. The most prominent member of the group was George Bellows, the 'American master of snow', who seems to offer engagement with the natural world as the main subject of his paintings. Highlights of the exhibition include 'Cliff Dwellers', an almost Hargothian street scene of immigrants on the Lower East Side of Manhattan; 'Excavation at Night', one of a series of images of the building work at the site of Pennsylvania Station; 'Blue Snow, The Battery', depicting the 25 acre public park at the tip of Lower Manhattan; and 'The Big Dory', a view of fishermen on Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine, which anticipates the stylisations of Art Deco a generation later. The Ashcan Painters were part of a widespread interest in the quality of life in the modern cities of the early 20th century. Along with British artists like Walter Sickert, they are representative of a strong analysis of urban experience while owing much to Old Masters such as Velazquez and Manet. National Gallery until 30th May.

Facade examines the key design feature in architecture - the identity, or face, of a building. The exhibition explores through artists' and architects' work, how facades can be used to both reveal and conceal, and often what, upon closer scrutiny, lies beneath the surface: the tension between appearance and reality. One of the most striking architectural developments over the last 50 years has been the increasing presence of glass facades, which have become all but ubiquitous, at least in larger towns and cities, affecting both the environment and people's lives. Firstly shops, then offices, and more recently apartment blocks have been clad increasingly in ever greater expanses of glazing. The exhibition explores some of the origins of this in the radical writings and architecture from around 1910 onwards, the subsequent development of glass technologies, and the range of its manifestations and effects since. It also throws this seeming 'triumph of transparency' into relief, by contrasting it with its inverse, the blank, dark or broken/blind facade in architecture. Reflecting contemporary developments, it looks at how new glazed-facade technology seems to metamorphose between the transparent and the opaque, hinting at a more ambiguous play between material surface and its depth - what lies beneath. Artists and architects whose work is featured include: Alexander Apostol, Foster + Partners, Gelitin, Gregor Schneider, Ian Kiaer, Jeffrey Sarmiento, Michael Raedecker, Mossessian and Partners, Ola Kohlemainen, Phil Coy, Sauerbruch Hutton, Heike Klussmann and Thorsten Klooster. National Glass Centre, Sunderland, until 10th July.

Nothing Is Ever As It Seems marks the centenary of the birth of the playwright Terence Rattigan. The author of 25 full length stage plays, and the most successful playwright in Britain in the mid 20th century, Terence Rattigan saw two of his works, 'French Without Tears' in 1936 and 'Separate Tables' in 1956, achieve West End runs of more than 1,000 performances, a record not yet equalled. Characters in Rattigan's plays are notable for their emotional restraint, which he summed up thus: "It is the implicit rather than the explicit that gives life to a scene". However, the arrival of 'kitchen sink' drama and the Theatre of the Absurd in 1956 made Rattigan's 'well made' plays seem old fashioned, and they were more or less neglected until recent years. The exhibition includes scripts, letters, photographs and other memorabilia from the Rattigan archive. Highlights include the typescript with autograph amendments of 'First Episode', his first staged play, set in an undergraduate lodging house; the typescript with annotations of the satirical farce 'Follow My Leader', which was refused a licence by the Lord Chamberlain so as not to offend foreign powers; the original script of 'Flare Path', under its first title of 'Next Of Kin', together with Rattigan's RAF notebooks and flying log; the script of the original radio version of 'Cause Celebre', and a letter to Robin Midgley, director of its stage adaptation, discussing changes to the script for the theatre. The British Library until July.


Watercolour presents a fresh assessment of the history of watercolour painting in Britain from the Middle Ages through to the present day. The exhibition shows over 200 works including pieces by historic artists such as William Blake, Thomas Girtin and JMW Turner, through to modern and contemporary artists including Patrick Heron, Peter Doig, Tracey Emin and Anish Kapoor. Spanning 800 years and celebrating the variety of ways watercolour has been used, it shows how important the medium is within British art. Drawing out a grand history that traces the origins of watercolour back to medieval illuminated manuscripts, the exhibition reassesses the commonly held belief that the medium first flourished during a 'golden age' of British watercolour, from roughly 1750-1850. It reveals an older tradition evident in manuscripts, topography and miniatures, and challenges the notion that watercolour is singularly British by showing some key watercolours from continental Europe which influenced British artists, such as examples by Anthony van Dyck and Wenceslaus Hollar. Before the advent of photography, watercolour was used primarily for recording eye-witness accounts, because it was so versatile and portable. This exhibition shows the wide range of contexts in which watercolour was employed including documentation of exotic flora and fauna on Captain Cook's voyages, spontaneous on-the spot-recordings of landscapes by artists such as Turner and John Sell Cotman and on the battlefield by war artists such as William Simpson and Paul Nash. In addition, it also shows how watercolour has been used for visionary or abstract purposes with examples ranging from Blake through to the Pre-Raphaelites, Symbolists and Neo-Romantics in more recent times. Tate Britain until 21st August.

Robin And Lucienne Day: Design And The Modern Interior features the work of the couple whose designs were a quintessential part of the Contemporary style in Britain in the 1950s. The exhibition features over 50 Lucienne textiles alongside rare, early furniture by Robin, including key pieces such as the Royal Festival Hall lounge, dining and orchestra chairs. The most celebrated designer couple of the post war years, the Days rose to prominence during the 1951 Festival of Britain. Robin Day was commissioned to design the furniture for the Royal Festival Hall and Lucienne's arresting abstract-patterned textiles and wallpapers were displayed alongside Robin's steel and plywood furniture in the Homes and Gardens Pavilion. Like many architects and designers during the optimistic post-war period, the Days believed in the power of modern design to make the world a better place. Lucienne Day's fresh and progressive textile designs were revolutionary, inspired by plant forms, composed of spindly lines and irregular cupped motifs in earthy and acid tones. The originality of these early patterns grew from Lucienne's love of modern art, particularly the paintings of Joan Miro and Paul Klee. Robin Day's furniture designs were a direct rejection of the solid and ponderous form of pre-war furniture. His response to technology reflected the positive, forward looking mood of the early post-war era, and his sparing use of materials and economical approach to construction stemmed from the enforced austerity of the war years, when materials and labour were in short supply. The results included his famed armchairs with moulded plywood wings for arms and spindly legs that emphasise lightness and space. These habits became deeply ingrained in his design psyche, eventually finding their logical conclusion in the multi-million selling 1963 polypropylene chair, perhaps the most ubiquitous piece of furniture on the planet. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 26th June.

Manifold Greatness: Oxford And The Making Of The King James Bible celebrates the 400th anniversary of the publication of the most frequently printed book in English language. The exhibition tells the story behind the publication of the King James Bible., exploring the political, religious and intellectual context of its time, and looking at the events and conditions that led to and shaped this translation enterprise. Commissioned by King James I of England and VI of Scotland, the translation was the outcome of the laborious efforts of 47 scholars located in Oxford, Cambridge and Westminster. Drawing on the Bodleian holdings, the resources of collegiate libraries from around the University of Oxford, the exhibition specifically showcases the contribution of the Oxford translation committees, of which notable members were John Rainolds (President of Corpus Christi College), Henry Savile (Warden of Merton College) and Miles Smith (Corpus Christi and Brasenose College). The King James translation of the Bible exerted considerable cultural and social influence in the 17th century, and it has become ubiquitous in English speaking culture. The display includes Wycliffe's earliest translation of the Bible into English; John Bois's notes from the committee meeting at which the translation was finally agreed, revealing how words were re-ordered to make the Bible more majestic; reference books used by the committees to help identify biblical insects such as locusts; and a rare copy of the Wicked Bible of 1631, which omits the word 'not' from the seventh commandment, rendering it "Thou shalt commit adultery". Bodleian Library. Oxford, until 4th September.

Joan Miro: The Ladder Of Escape is the first major retrospective of the one of the 20th century's greatest artists to be held in London for almost 50 years. The exhibition represents the breadth of Joan Miro's output, with over 150 paintings, works on paper and sculptures. It explores the wider context of his work, bringing to light Miro's political engagement and examining the influence of his Catalan identity, the Spanish Civil War and the rise and fall of Franco's regime. Miro was among the most iconic of modern artists, evolving a Surrealist language of symbols that evokes a sense of freedom and energy in its fantastic imagery and direct colour. Often regarded as a forefather of Abstract Expressionism, his work is celebrated for its serene, colourful allure. However, from his earliest paintings onwards, there is also a more anxious and engaged side to Miro's practice, reflecting the turbulent political times in which he lived. Miro's work encompasses images of rural life such as 'The Farm' and 'Head of a Catalan Peasant', opposition to the Spanish Civil War in 'Aidez l'Espagne' and 'Le Faucheur', and the Second World War in the 'Constellation' paintings, the atmosphere of protest in the late 1960s achieved by blackening or setting fire to pieces such as 'May 1968' and 'Burnt Canvas II', or by creating euphoric explosions of paint in 'Fireworks', through to the 'Hope of a Condemned Man' triptych, in which he publicly declared his opposition to Franco. This exhibition explores these responsive, passionate characteristics across six decades of Miro's extraordinary career. Tate Modern until 11th September.

Robot - A Collection of Robots, Cyborgs and Androids brings together a group of robots in all their guises, some are friendly, others helpful, and a few simply scary. The exhibition encompasses full size robots, robot parts, film props, and promotional costumes and toys, plus collectible robot models. Visitors have the opportunity to come face to face with some of the metal stars of the big screen such as the Planet Robot, thought to be inspired by Robby the Robot from the Hollywood movie Forbidden Planet; a vintage Robocop and a B9 robot torso made by Andy Shaw, the original Dalek builder; Fem-bots represented by the beautiful Grace; a promotional battle droid; a rare Sonny, who starred alongside Will Smith in the film I, Robot; R.A.D. personal robots as featured on Tomorrow's World; and the famous Scooter 2000; plus The Terminator and Judge Dred. In addition to the exhibition, 'Riveting Robots' workshops with robots to make, art and craft activities and prizes to win in robot themed party games, plus a giant robot sculpture to make and a have-a-go obstacle using radio controlled robots, will take place during school holidays and bank holiday weekends. The Historic Dockyard Chatham until 17th June.

Street Cries: Depictions Of London's Poor considers how the urban poor and underprivileged were reflected in art from the 17th to the 19th century. The exhibition comprises significant paintings, prints and drawings by artists including Edward Penny, Marcellus Laroon, Phoebus Levin, Gustave Dore, Theodore Gericault, Thomas Rowlandson and Paul Sandby. The prints and drawings illustrate street vendors and London's urban poor, including travelling carpenters and cane-weavers, prostitutes and criminals. Some of these images present an idealised vision of the poor, while others are amongst the first works of art to attempt a more realistic view of London's underprivileged inhabitants - although these tended to be commercial flops. This is a fascinating exhibition that combines social history and the development of illustration and printmaking. The collection poses questions about how society in these periods was organised, the motives of those making, selling and buying the prints, and the status and identity of the people portrayed. The exhibition explores these issues and offers a chance to see some real gems that are rarely displayed for conservation reasons: delicate watercolours depicting gritty London subject matter. Museum of London until 31st July.


Paper Memories features childhood fashion memories preserved in paper. The exhibition comprises a collection of more than 100 authentically recreated life-sized children's clothes made from paper by one dedicated woman, which is on public display for the first time. All the clothes are modeled on items of clothes made between the 1940s and the 1970s, and have been painstakingly created over the last few years by fashion expert Felicity Austen. The unique collection, ranging from school uniforms to party outfits, fancy dress to holiday clothes, includes 10 pairs of paper shoes, as well as paper dresses, shirts and even socks. Austin re-created the clothes after studying original garments, looking at family photographs and advertisements, and hearing the reminiscences of a number of people who provided memories of their childhood clothes. Some of the clothes represent 'home made' garments, very popular at the beginning of the period represented, and others, those produced commercially in factories, but all predate the concept of 'children's fashion'. Each garment took hours to put together, using everything from tissue paper to wrapping paper. The clothes are supported by photographs and objects of the period. Also included in the exhibition are other nostalgic paper artefacts, from Coronation memorabilia and old photos, to school books and brown paper packages tied up with string. Snibston Discovery Park, Ashby Road, Coalville, Leicestershire, until 15th May.

A Collector's Eye: Cranach To Pissarro provides an opportunity for the public to see paintings from a private collection spanning 15th century devotional images to 19th century French Impressionist landscapes. As well as being an exhibition of great breadth and depth of style and time periods, it is also a story of how a collection grows and develops, and how the taste of the collector changes and diversifies. The Schorr Collection was assembled by private collector David J Lewis. It has been built up over the last 35 years and now numbers over 400 paintings. Among the 64 paintings in the exhibition are Lucas Cranach's 'Lamentation over dead Christ', El Greco's 'St John the Evangelist', Rubens's 'Battle of the Amazons' and 'Allegory of the River God Maranon', Guidi Reni's 'The Evangelist St Mark', Salvador Rosa's 'A Philosopher', Delacroix's 'Portrait of King Philip IV of Spain', Camille Pissarro's 'Pommiers dans une prairie', and Sisley's 'Autour de la foret, matinee de juillet' and 'Port-Marly sous la neige'. The exhibition pays tribute to the visual and intellectual curiosity of a collector whose acquisitions now form one of the largest collections of Old Master paintings amassed in England since the Second World War. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, until 15th May.

Alice In Wonderland Treasures provides an opportunity to see rare first and second editions of the legendary Alice books, together with other Lewis Carroll associated artefacts and memorabilia. When Alice's Adventures In Wonderland was first published in 1865 the author Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) received a complaint about the quality of the printing from John Tenniel who had supplied the illustrations, so the first issue was withdrawn and a second one commissioned. As a result, copies of the first issue are extremely rare, but this exhibition includes a copy in the original red cloth binding. In addition, there are a number of editions of both Alice books, with illustrations by Arthur Rackham, Alice Ross, Charles Robinson and Gwynedd M Hudson, together with other works by Lewis Carrol. Among the other highlights are a presentation copy Alice's Adventures In Wonderland showing a poem written by the author for the actress Marion Terry; a first edition of Through The Looking-glass, And What Alice Found There signed by the original Alice, Alice Pleasance Hargreaves (nee Liddel); an 1893 advertisement apologising for the printing of the illustrations in the latest issue of Through The Looking-glass and requesting holders of copies to return them for exchange; a letter from Dodgson appealing against the inclusion of his name and pseudonym in Halkett and Laing's 'A dictionary of anonymous and pseudonymous literature of Great Britain'; and 'The Wonderland postage-stamp-case' and 'The game of logic', both invented by Dodgson. National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 2nd May.