News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 28th January 2004

Commencing

Bosch And Bruegel: Inventions, Enigmas And Variations brings together paintings, drawings and engravings that demonstrate the influence of Hieronymus Bosch on Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Although Bruegel was born several years after Bosch's death, he was known in his lifetime as a 'second Bosch', and he was familiar with and emulated his predecessor's work, sharing with him a supreme command of colour and pattern. This exhibition concentrates on the originality of the two artists, and their brilliance as designers and painters. Both were highly inventive artists, who made an important contribution to our visual heritage, profoundly influencing the fantasies and perceptions of succeeding generations. Two early versions of Bosch's 'Adoration of the Kings' were investigated during recent cleaning, and offer a new insight into the connections with the 'Crowning with Thorns' by Bosch, and Bruegel's 'Adoration of the Kings' which can be examined here. Also in the exhibition are Bruegel's 'Death of the Virgin', which is in a tradition of grisaille painting that owes much to Bosch's innovations, and Bruegel's drawing 'Avarice', which is inhabited by Bosch-like demons and scattered with fantastic buildings in the architectural style of Bosch. Bruegel, however, was more interested in humanity than Bosch, and his 'Everyman' represents a frantic searching for self-knowledge, advantage and possession. National Gallery until 4th April.

The Shape Of Ideas is an exhibition of small scale sculpture, models and maquettes by some of the most important and innovative artists of the twentieth century. It includes both familiar and rarely seen works, many on display for the first time. Sculptors use models to explore ideas and materials, as a way of thinking about form and space in three dimensions. Models are often provisional, and as a record of thought in progress, may appear in different variants. This thought becomes fixed in the maquette, a small scale version of a final work. However, the cost of making large sculpture often means that a maquette is the only way a sculptor can realise ideas. Some sculptors have used the notion of scale or relative size as the focus for the work itself, and the small sculptures included in this display are finished works in which scale is an essential element. Among the artists represented here are Naum Gabo, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Barbara Hepworth, Joan Miro, Henry Moore and Kurt Schwitters. Works on display include a group of submissions for the competition run by Institute for Contemporary Art in 1952 for a monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner, which attracted 140 proposals from all over the world. The event was won by Reg Butler, but sadly the full size sculpture was never built. Tate Liverpool until 31st May.

Ancient Myths And Legends examines classical imagery in the decoration of European fans of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The exhibition of over 60 fans and fan leaves shows in the subjects depicted, the influence of antiquity and the classical tradition on painters, makers and collectors. Scenes from the lives of the Gods, the Trojan War, the Heroes and Women in ancient times are all surveyed and explained. The exhibition reveals the origins of the subject matter depicted, which has been discovered by investigation into related paintings, prints and sculptures. The permanent collection has over 3,500 fans and fan leaves, with examples from all over the world from the 11th century to the present day. The collection is particularly strong in European fans of the 18th and 19th centuries. Fan making workshops are held on the first Saturday afternoon of each month, lasting approximately 3 hours, during which the participants make two fans, one of the traditional Chinese shape, and the other of the Fontange shape, an early 20th century design. Further information can be found on the Fan Museum web site via the link from the Museums section of ExhibitionsNet. The Fan Museum, Greenwich until 9th May.

Continuing

William West And The Regency Toy Theatre celebrates a great British institution on the 150th anniversary of the death of its inventor. In 1811, William West, a London haberdasher, began to issue sheets of engraved figures from current theatrical productions as an amusement for children. The phrase 'penny plain and twopence coloured' was coined to describe these prints, hand-coloured in deep hues. When children started to use them to perform the plays on miniature stages, West found that he had accidentally stumbled on a new career. He developed and perfected the idea over the next twenty years, commissioning wooden theatres for sale, and publishing plays that crossed the boundary from souvenir to practical toy. Later works by his successors John Redington and Benjamin Pollock are possibly better known, but this exhibition is devoted to West's pioneering work in creating the English toy theatre. It offers an insight into the childhood pursuits, scenic art, production style and popular culture of the period. The Regency toy theatre is closely related to the development of the architecture of its time, displaying the same historical and exotic styles, and effects of colour, perspective and lighting that were familiar to theatre audiences. This exhibition features the best of West's characters and scenes from the 146 miniature plays he produced. Associated material shows his sources, including scene designs, playbills and scripts, from the exotic melodramas produced at Covent Garden, Drury Lane, the Olympic and Astley's Amphitheatre. Sir John Soane's Museum until 27 March.

Kerry Harker: Miniature Masterpieces Of Delicacy, Humour And Colour is the culmination of a year's work by the recipient of the Vickers Award, examining the heritage of the porcelain industry at the Royal Crown Derby factory. Harker is a conceptual artist who re-interprets photographic imagery, often condensing pop and film celebrities to their most unforgettable features: Elvis's quiff and Marilyn's lips. Here she has produced a series of plates, which straddle the line between the fine and decorative arts. Elements of print were used on the factory's tablewares alongside collage and hand painting to create tableaux from the history of the industry, recalling the narrative tradition in antique Chinese porcelain. There are also 40 small oil paintings derived from the porcelain collection. Slides of archive photographs were projected onto canvas, and the object's outline traced in black linework against a flat coloured ground echoing the original porcelain 'ground' colours. The paintings are installed in a grid format following the placement of the porcelain collection in glass display cabinets, contrasting the differing modes of display for painting and ceramics. In addition, two large circular canvasses utilise an eclectic mix of visual elements, drawn from the porcelain archive, Disney, Manga, natural history and road signage, placed against the same flat 'ground' colours. Derby Art Gallery until 7th March.

Paintings And Drawings From The National Gallery Of Scotland:From Raphael To The Glasgow Boys is part of the celebration of the National Art Collections Fund's centenary, showcasing works it has helped Edinburgh's National Gallery of Scotland to acquire. The exhibition comprises forty paintings, prints and drawings by a wide range of artists, with Old Master paintings ranging from Renaissance Italy to Golden Age Denmark, and important prints and drawings that are not on permanent display for conservation reasons. At its core, are a group of English drawings and watercolours by Turner, Blake, Girtin, Constable, Cotman and Rowlandson. There are also Old Master drawings, among them Raphael's chalk drawing 'Kneeling Nude Woman with her Left Arm Raised', Poussin's preparatory drawing for 'The Dance to the Music of Time', which can be seen alongside the finished work for the first time, Rembrandt's etching 'Ecce Homo', and Ingres portrait of Mlle Hayard. Scottish paintings and drawings in the show include Joseph Crawhall's 'The White Drake', and works by Alexander Nasmyth, George Henry and David Gauld. The Wallace Collection until 18th April.

The Smithsons: The House Of The Future To A House For Today celebrates the architecture of Alison and Peter Samithson, who were both pioneers in the British Pop Art movement, and influential designers of landmark buildings. The exhibition traces the development of their architecture and ideas from their involvement with the Independent Group through the construction of major projects such as the Economist building in 1964, and the Robin Hood Gardens housing complex in 1972, to the present. It focuses on their houses, including two of their most important - and contrasting - projects: the House Of The Future designed for the Ideal Home Exhibition in 1956, and the little known house for today in rural Germany. The House Of The Future, conceived in an age of scientific optimism, was full of the gadgets that it was predicted would change our lives, but in fact never came to pass. These included retractable furniture, and a hot air curtain at the door to blast dirt off visitors as they entered. The house for today, a private commission built in Lauenforde, between 1985 and 2002, comes from the very different 'back to nature' movement. It is a simple functional design, constructed from traditional materials, and located in isolation in a wood, rather like a tree house, but on the ground. The exhibition charts both society's changing expectations and requirements for housing, and the Smithson's responses to them, drawing on their private archive, with plans, models and films. Design Museum until 29th February.

Travels With Edward Lear reveals a different side to the man who is best known as the author of some of the most idiosyncratic nonsense verse in the English language. Lear was in fact an outstanding watercolourist, who specialised in topographical and natural history subjects. After studying under the Pre-Raphaelite master Holman Hunt, Lear made his living throughout his life from art, by both selling his works and teaching - even giving drawing lessons to Queen Victoria. The 32 works in this exhibition are a recent acquisition and are on display for the first time. They are all depictions of locations in the eastern Mediterranean, which Lear painted during his grand tours in the 1840s and 1850s. Lear channelled his amusement at the quirkiness of human nature into his verse, which he illustrated accordingly. These sensitively observed watercolours reveal a comparable fascination with the marvels of the natural landscape, expressed in an entirely different way. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh until 21st March.

Living And Dying looks at how people around the world deal with the tough realities of life, averting or confronting trouble, sorrow, sickness and death. Far from being unremittingly solemn, or indeed universal, this extraordinarily diverse collection of objects reveals man's infinite imagination and creativity, and the multiplicity of his beliefs. Among the many treasures in this lavish exhibition, there are fabulous dance masks from carnivals and rituals, representing gods and devils, with Diablada from Bolivia, and Kolam from Sri Lanka; personal spirit effigies to be carried for protection, such as the Hohao from Papua New Guinea and Durhig from Sarawak; large scale papier mache ceremonial figures representing famine, pestilence and death from Mexico; gold jewellery in the form of shaman from Colombia; a boy's protective tunic, made to ward off evil, from Afghanistan; a Moai 'hidden friend' stone statue from Easter Island; a carved wooden burial headrest from Zimbabwe; and paper replicas of motorbikes, telephones, and other symbols of worldly success to be burnt during funeral ceremonies from Penang. In providing the opportunity to look at and beyond objects as a means of comprehending common human experience, this exhibition opens a window on what life is and was like for people in widely different places and times. British Museum continuing.

Concluding

Thomas Jones In Italy features the work of one of the most innovative, yet least known British artists from the second half of the 18th century. Jones small oil-sketches, painted during travels around Italy in the 1770s and 1780s, are masterpieces of observation and concision, while his 'Memoirs' are the most complete and compelling records of an artist's life at the time. Neither were known until about 50 years ago, when their rediscovery led to the recognition that a major artist had been all but forgotten. This exhibition includes 70 informal oil-sketches, drawings and watercolours, painted in Rome and Naples, and the surrounding countryside. Jones speciality was architectural landscapes, or to be precise the depiction of walls - the more decrepit the better - and thus he was in his element in southern Italy. Although the sketches were made as records of locations, to be incorporated in later paintings created in his studio back in England, the acuteness of their observation and their freshness make them works of art in their own right. Among those included here is 'A Wall in Naples' of about 1782, recognised as a masterpiece of the oil-sketch tradition. National Gallery until 15th February.

Peter Paul Rubens: A Touch Of Brilliance is devoted to Rubens oil sketches, long regarded as one of the most remarkable aspects of his work. They illustrate the wide range of his preparation, and reveal the development of his pictorial ideas. By bringing together preparatory material from a small number of commissions, the exhibition provides a concentrated account the innovative and original use of the oil sketch in Rubens working process in creating paintings. These projects include the ceiling of the Banqueting House in Whitehall, the altarpiece of Antwerp cathedral - The Descent From The Cross, and the now lost ceiling of the Jesuit church in Antwerp. Loosely painted grisailles, exploratory bozzetti, more finished modelli and drawings provide an insight into the genesis of several of the artist's most important compositions. Although Rubens delegated the execution of many of his commissions to assistants, the sketches were all his, and each is a work of art in its own right. Comprising some forty seven oil sketches supplemented by ten related drawings and a small number of finished paintings, the exhibition draws on the collections of the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, together with material from the National Gallery, Dulwich College Picture Gallery and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House until 8th February.

Turner's Britain shows how J.M.W.Turner recorded his travels around Britain during a time of exceptional change and upheaval - the Industrial Revolution. Turner journeyed by foot, horseback, stagecoach and riverboat, sketching the rural market towns, developing industrial cities and lonely landscapes of Wales, northern England and Scotland. Through Turner's eyes Britain's past is celebrated in the looming forms of ancient castles and churches, as well as in the picturesque jumble of shops and thoroughfares. In contrast, he also captures its present, in steam trains, canals, soldiery and industrial workings, as the country developed into the first industrial world power. 'The Fighting Temeraire', depicting the wooden sailing ship from the Battle of Trafalgar being towed to a breaker's yard by a tug, as sail gave way to iron steam ships, epitomises the period of change. The Midlands was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, and Turner made several sketching tours through the region, where he documented the growth and transformation of towns like Wolverhampton and Dudley. His 'Birmingham and Coventry' and 'Kenilworth' sketchbooks form part of over 130 paintings, drawings, watercolours and engravings that make up the show. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery until 8th February.