News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 28th April 2004

Commencing

Barbican Art Gallery celebrates its re-opening after a £1m makeover designed by architects Allford Hall Monaghan, which has provided an additional 140 sq metres of display space and new reception area, thanks to the bridging of the central void and removal of a staircase, with two exhibitions that demonstrate the new adaptability of the space.Tina Modotti and Edward Weston: The Mexico Years, in the upper level, is the first major exhibition in the UK of photographs by two key figures of Modernist photography. It features over 150 vintage images, including some never before exhibited, and focuses on their work during the 1920s in post-Revolutionary Mexico, when the two photographers worked together, and considers their role in Mexican Modernism, and how the period impacted on their careers.Helen Chadwick: A Retrospective, on the lower floor, is a comprehensive display of large installations by one of the most important British artists of the late 1980s and early 1990s, who specialised in creating art from waste products. The scale on which she worked meant that they would have been difficult to accommodate before the refurbishment. Among the 70 pieces present are the self portrait based 'Ego Geometria Sum', 'The Oval Court', 'Cacao' - a fountain of hot bubbling chocolate, and 'Piss Flowers'.Barbican Art Gallery until 1st August.

Newnham Paddox Art Park, the 30 acre open air lakeside art gallery, opens its second season with 60 new works in contemporary and classical styles for viewing and purchase, in a unique wooded setting. The park is part of a 1,000 acre Grade 1 listed 18th century romantic landscape designed by Capability Brown on the 3,000 acre estate of the Earl and Countess of Denbigh. Among the new artists whose work is featured are Michael Rizzello, John Baldwin and James Butler. Returning artists include David Begbie, Dawn Benson, Mick Chambers, Peter Clarke, Sukey Erland, Nic Fiddian-Green, Alan Gibbs, Amy Goodman, Bruce Hardwick, Christa Hunter, William Lazard, Nick Lloyd, Lyell, Michael Lyons, Sylvia Macrae Brown, Rob Maingay, Justin Neal, Walenty Pytel, Jane Rickards, Elizabeth Studdert, Brian Taylor, Thomas Tatnell, Gail van Heerden, Diane Whelan and Althea Wynne. Ceramicist Mark Isley is using the summerhouse as his studio throughout the season, and visitors can watch him throw and turn pots, and Raku fire them in a purpose built kiln. Wooded walks afford five views of the lakes and park, which contains many rare specimen trees that have been collected by previous generations of Denbighs on their journeys abroad since 1433. Newnham Paddox Art Park, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire, Thursdays to Sundays until 17th October.

Prisoners Of The Tower, explores the incarceration of many of the most interesting and intriguing prisoners of the Royal fortress on the Thames, including Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes, Thomas More, Princess Elizabeth, Lady Jane Grey, Walter Raleigh and Rudolf Hess. The exhibition also tells the stories of lesser known prisoners, from the very first in 1100 (who also became the first prisoner to escape), to the 20th century Germans accused of espionage. It reveals the conditions in which they were kept - many prisoners of state in relative luxury, exploding the Victorian myth of dripping dungeons, the punishments that some endured, the variety of reasons for being 'sent to the Tower', and the numerous attempts to escape, as well as the ultimate fate that awaited many prisoners. The exhibition includes unique personal possessions, rare documents and artefacts, furniture, clothing, models, film footage, works of art, and manuscripts written by prisoners themselves, including: the personal Prayer Books of Lady Jane Grey and Anne Boleyn; papers containing the signature of Rudolf Hess; the Episcopal Staff and Ring of Bishop Flambard, the first Tower prisoner; and the actual chair in which Josef Jakobs, the last prisoner to be executed at the Tower, was shot. The Tower of London until 5th September.

Continuing

The Secret State reveals for the first time, the true extent of Britain's preparations for nuclear attack during the Cold War. Based on recently released secret documents held in the government archive, it shows how woefully poor our chance of survival would have been, had the doomsday scenario of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union taken place. In addition, the intelligence reports, minutes of meetings, notes and memoranda prepared by ministers and senior civil servants, illuminate the background, including the methods by which espionage was conducted, why and how our nuclear deterrent was built, and how secrets were betrayed to the Russians. The most secret files deal with the nuclear retaliation procedures in the 1960s, spelling out what would have happened if the Prime Minister had survived the first missile assault, how he would have responded, and also that an RAF officer, the Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command, was authorised to retaliate on his own initiative if the Prime Minister had been killed. Perhaps the most compelling files are those that deal with the fate that would have awaited the British people had an attack succeeded: millions dead instantly; radiation poisoning eventually killing millions more; the Prime Minister and a small war cabinet evacuated to secret bunker; the country broken into 12 self contained mini kingdoms, each run by a cabinet minister from underground 'regional seat of government'; the military and the police dispensing absolute and rough justice; and the near impossibility of restoring the essentials of life for the survivors. The National Archives, Kew until 30th October.

Ben Nicholson And The St Ives School is an exhibition of the work of a unique artistic community. Ben Nicholson first came to prominence in the 1930s as a pioneer of abstract art, although he retained a life long interest in the depiction of landscape and still life. In 1939, Nicholson and his wife, the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, moved to St Ives in Cornwall, where they lived for the next 20 years. During this period Nicholson and Hepworth became prominent members of a celebrated artists' colony, which included Naum Gabo, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. The work of the group, in landscape and abstract paintings, and sculpture, illustrates a response to, and enthusiasm for, their Cornish surroundings. This exhibition comprises paintings from throughout Nicholson's long and prolific career, from his Cumbrian landscape 'Walton Wood Cottage No.1', to his abstract 'White Relief ' and the later 'Green Goblet and Blue Square'. These are accompanied by works from other members of the group, including Hepworth's celebrated 'Wave', and Frost's 'Black and White Movement in Blue & Green II'. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh until 13th June.

Thurston Hopkins: The Golden Age Of Reportage is a retrospective of one of the great generation of photographers who transformed British photojournalism while working for Picture Post, the journal of record in the 1950s. In a career spanning four decades, Hopkins became known for his acute ability to depict the human condition through images that convey great sensitivity, while taking a creative approach to their sometimes widely varied material. Hopkins's work reflected the extraordinary contrasts in the years following the Second World War: the social whirl of the toffs in Mayfair and Kensington, and the extreme poverty in the slums of the East End of London and Liverpool; the 'other world' glamour of visiting Hollywood film stars, and the familiar bomb site wreckage that lay round every corner. They were all captured in the final flowering of the medium of the black and white image. Hopkins exploited shadow and reflection, both on location and in elaborate studio set ups, and was a master of both the snatched shot, the carefully composed, and the long exposure. Royal National Theatre until 15th May.

Li Zhensheng: Red-colour New Soldier presents the only known existing photographic documentation of the excesses of the Cultural Revolution in China between 1966 and 1976. These were times when child turned against parent and pupil against teacher, with tens of thousands of young revolutionaries mobilised as Red Guards, while countless others were executed, imprisoned or sent to work camps, accused of being enemies of the masses. Starting in 1963, the photographer Li Zhensheng spent almost 20 years working for the Heilongjiang Daily, a Communist newspaper in Northern China, with full access to events. His unique archive of images conveys the madness of this time: stage-managed public trials, recantations, the cult of personality, mass demonstrations, executions and re-education campaigns. In 1969 Li himself was sent to a 're-education school' in a desolate rural region north of Harbin for two years. When the new Chinese leadership ordered the destruction of all evidence of what happened, at great personal risk, Li hid and preserved thousands of photographs in his furniture and under his floorboards, and these were later smuggled to the West. This exhibition brings together over 130 of his photographs, along with personal documents from the period.Hou Bo & Xu Xiaobing: Mao's Photographers features photographs taken by Hou Bo, who worked with her husband Xu Xiaobing at the heart of the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda machine. They were close to Mao from the period leading up to the Revolution through to the end of his life, producing many of the iconic images, from Mao's declaration of the People's Republic of China in 1949, to his swim in the Yangtze River at the age of 73 in 1966. During the Cultural Revolution, as the personality cult that engulfed Mao came to its height, his image and Little Red Book of quotations were distributed in their millions throughout China. Hou Bo's portraits appeared in nearly every office, factory, classroom, shop and home, showing Mao as a charismatic leader, a teacher, a strategist and an internationalist. This exhibition includes over 60 photographs of the most notable political figures of these years, including not only the widely disseminated portraits of Mao, but intimate shots of him with his family, that have rarely been seen.The Photographers' Gallery, London until 30th May.

Spinball Whizzer is first out of the bag of this year's new theme park attractions, aiming to create the feeling of what it would be like to be a human pinball. Not only are riders catapulted up and down a steep twisted 450 yard track at speeds of up to 40mph, but each car does 360 degree spins - up to 90 times in one and a half minutes. Meanwhile the popular Flume has been given a bath time makeover - out go the rustic log boats and in come bathtubs - accompanied by rubber ducks, taps, bath plugs, and intermittent showers, plus a final giant power shower to complete the experience. These join the existing thrillseeker experiences: Air - the first ride to simulate the motion and sensation of free flight, Oblivion - the world's first vertical drop ride, and the legendary Nemesis - combining 4G force and weightlessness. Further information and virtual rides can be found on the Alton Towers web site via the link from the Attractions section of ExhibitionsNet. Alton Towers until 31st October.

Durer And The Virgin In The Garden is a classic exercise in pragmatism, centred on the painting 'The Virgin with the Iris'. It was purchased as being the work of the renaissance artist Albrecht Durer, but scholars subsequently dismissed it as a copy or pastiche. However, a discovery made during the recent restoration of the painting, supports the theory that it actually did originate in Durer's workshop in the early sixteenth century, and draws on a number of his meticulous studies of plants, flowers and other motifs. During this examination of the painting using infrared reflectography, a remarkably detailed underdrawing was revealed, which may be the work of Durer himself. Capitalising on this discovery, the exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see the underdrawing and compare it with Durer's other work. Through a series of drawings and prints, bringing together some of Durer's most famous watercolours, most on show in London for the first time, the exhibition traces the development of the artist's images of the Virgin and Child in a garden. The works include: 'Irises', 'The Virgin with the Animals' and the 'Great Piece of Turf', plus 'Peonies' by Martin Schongauer, a watercolour that was owned by Durer himself, and a painting by Durer of the Virgin and Child. National Gallery until 20th June.

Concluding

Roy Lichtenstein is the first major retrospective of the American father of Pop Art in the UK for 35 years. Lichtenstein shot to international fame with his paintings based on cartoon characters - Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Popeye - but it was his blown up comic strip scenes of wartime action and romantic melodrama, such as 'Whaam!', 'Ohhh… Alright…' and 'In The Car', and his paintings of everyday objects culled from advertising, including 'Coffee Cup', 'Golf Ball' and 'Radio' that established the Pop Art movement. These paintings surprised and shocked the public in the early 1960s twice over. Firstly, for their precise, mechanical style: big, brash and immediate, in bold primary colours (often created by dots as in the original comic strips) within thick black outlines. Secondly, for their provocative use of subjects, taken from the worlds of commerce and popular culture. From the late 1960s onwards Lichtenstein extended the range of his imagery, applying the same techniques to still lifes, figure studies, landscapes and interiors. He examined colour, pattern and form, spatial illusions and the styles and iconic images of modern life, with increasing complexity and an ironic humour. This exhibition presents over 80 paintings and drawings, spanning nearly 40 years, providing an opportunity to see not only his most famous works "in the flesh" but also some relatively little known pieces. Viewed in retrospect his work reveals a simplicity, economy and subtlety that far outstrips the other pillar of the Pop Art movement, Andy Warhol. Hayward Gallery until 16th 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.

Louise Bourgeois: Stitches In Time features new works by the nonagenarian Franco-American artist whose installation of three towers featuring spiral staircases, dark enclosures and mirrored platforms, inaugurated the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern. This exhibition includes a group of extraordinary life size sewn fabric busts, several cell like vitrines housing scenes of torture and ecstasy, and totemic figures, which reinterpret in fabric, some of Bourgeois's very first sculptures from the 1940s and 50s. These are shown together with two major suites of etchings, the earliest of which is 'He Disappeared into Complete Silence', her first significant group of etchings and poems, in which tales of loss and loneliness unfold. Louise Bourgeois has employed many modes of practice in her career of more than 60 years, including carving, installation, castings in natural and man-made materials, performance art, text and illustration and needlecraft. Her diverse and experimental art has engaged with, yet remained at one remove from the major 20th century art movements, her artistic innovation setting its own path. Bourgeois's early family home in the Parisian suburbs, steeped in the tapestries of her seamstress mother, and the wares of her antique dealer father, continues to be referenced within the architecture, furnishings and artefacts of her sculpture. The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh until 9th May.