News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th February 2012


Mondrian || Nicholson: In Parallel tells the story of the creative relationship between two 20th century artists. The exhibition unites a group of major paintings and reliefs by Piet Mondrian and Ben Nicholson to explore the parallel artistic paths charted by them during the 1930s, when they were leading forces of abstract art in Europe. Their friendship culminated with Mondrian moving from Paris to London in 1938, at Nicholson's invitation, and the two working in neighbouring studios in Hampstead, when for a short period London was an international centre of modernist art. The works in the exhibition each have a particular historical significance. Paintings and reliefs that were shown together in exhibitions or included in avant-garde publications during the 1930s are reunited, and other works were originally bought by influential members of their circle in London, or were produced whilst the artists occupied nearby studios. The avant-garde publication, Circle, which Nicholson co-edited, aiming to unite an international modernist movement of artists, designers and architects with an ambitious agenda to revitalise modern civilisation, opened in 1937 with a sequence of Mondrian's paintings paired with a group of Nicholson's white reliefs. This exhibition reveals how each artist was driven by a profound belief in the potential of abstract art to create new forms of beauty and visual power. In addition to the paintings and reliefs, a selection of archival material, including photographs and a group of Mondrian's and Nicholson's letters, offer further insights into their relationship. Courtauld Gallery, London, until 20th May.

Beyond Macbeth reveals how Scotland helped to cement and then enrich the reputation of William Shakespeare, and explores what he meant to different people at different times. The exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see some of the earliest surviving examples of Shakespeare's works, including a copy of the First Folio, the collection of 36 of his plays published by actor friends in 1623, 7 years after his death. Early versions of Shakespeare's texts were published as small cheap playbooks in a format called 'quarto'. These quartos are at the heart of the exhibition, and include a 1599 edition of Romeo And Juliet; a 1600 edition of Love's Labour's Lost; an exceptionally rare copy of the 1600 second quarto edition of Titus Andronicus; the first Jacobean edition of Richard II from 1608, complete with the abdication scene, which could not be published during the reign of Elizabeth I; and the mysterious collection of Pavier quartos printed in 1619. While quartos are treasured now, they were little regarded in their day, and were often used as working texts that people wrote on, altered and even cut up. The exhibition looks at Shakespeare through the eyes of three individuals and one family, from his own time, when he was just one of many playwrights writing for the London stage, through to his iconic status in the 19th and 20th centuries: William Drummond, a Scottish poet and contemporary of Shakespeare who was one of his earliest admirers; the Bute family, who were aristocratic patrons of the arts and collectors of Shakespeare's works in the 18th century; James Halliwell-Phillipps, a Victorian collector with an obsessive interest in Shakespeare; and John Dover Wilson, a 20th century scholar who brought Shakespeare to a wide audience. National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 29th April.

Van Dyck In Sicily: Painting And The Plague 1624 - 1625 is the first British exhibition devoted a particular body of work by the 17th century Flemish artist. Van Dyck is known as the great painter of English aristocrats, but in 1624 he spent a year in Palermo, Sicily, when no one was allowed to enter or leave the city because of the plague. This exhibition features the 16 paintings that came about as a result, in particular a portrait of St Rosalia, a medieval hermit whose bones were discovered at that time and were said to have cured the city of the plague. Van Dyck depicts this symbol of hope as a transcendent figure in pauper's robes, interceding on behalf of the sick townsfolk. It is united with Van Dyck's four other paintings of St Rosalia for the first time in Britain. The exhibition also features a portrait of 'Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy, Prince of Oneglia' (who fell victim to the plague) shown in a superbly incised and richly gilded Milanese suit of parade armour. The portrait of the Spanish Viceroy of Sicily is seen next to the actual suit of armour that inspired the painting, from the Royal Armouries of Madrid. Among the other highlights are 'Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness', 'The Stoning of St Stephen', portraits of the 90 year old Italian baroque painter Sofonisba Auguissola, and an elderly 'witch' on trial for her life by the Spanish Inquisition, a self portrait, and a rarely seen sketchbook. Dulwich Picture Gallery, London SE21, until 27th May.


Picasso And Modern British Art is the first exhibition to examine the Spanish artist's evolving critical reputation in Britain, and British artists' responses to his work. The exhibition explores Pablo Picasso's rise in Britain as a figure of both controversy and celebrity, tracing the ways in which his work was exhibited and collected here during his lifetime. It also demonstrates that the British engagement with Picasso and his art was much deeper and more varied than generally has been appreciated. Pablo Picasso originated many of the most significant developments of 20th century art, and the exhibition looks at his impact on British modernism through seven figures for whom he proved an important stimulus: Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney. It is presented in a chronological order, documenting the exhibiting and collecting of Picasso's art in Britain, alternating with individual British artists' responses to his work. The show comprises over 150 works, with over 60 paintings by Picasso, including key Cubist works such as 'Head of a Man with Moustache', 'Man with a Clarinet' and 'Weeping Woman'. Among the works by British artists is Francis Bacon's 'Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion', alongside Picasso's paintings based on figures on the beach at Dinard, which first inspired Bacon to take up painting seriously. Also, to compliment Picasso's sets and costumes for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, English National Ballet will be rehearsing on site, culminating on 2nd March with three new ballets animating the exhibition. Tate Britain until 15th July.

Fascinating Mummies explores the beliefs and practices surrounding death and the afterlife in Ancient Egypt. The first part of the exhibition examines the complex rituals that evolved in this ancient civilisation. The concept of dying only to be born again demanded that the body be preserved. Over centuries the ancient Egyptians perfected the art of mummification. Through objects discovered in graves and tombs this is explored and explained. While these artefacts reveal much about the past, they are only part of the story. It is the mummies themselves that offer an insight into how people lived and died in ancient Egypt. The second part of the exhibition looks at how over time scholars, archaeologists and scientists have set about obtaining this information. While much data could be recovered from the inscriptions on coffins, early attempts to extract further information from the mummy meant un-wrapping it - a process that was invasive and destructive. Non-invasive techniques, such as x-rays and scanning, now mean that mummies can be examined without disturbing the body. Techniques such as facial reconstruction bring visitors face to face with the past. Key to the exhibition is the story of Ankhhor, a high priest of Thebes who lived around 650 BC. Information on his mummy and coffins has been drawn from a variety of sources, from his discovery in the early 19th century to the new data acquired recently from body scans. Ankhhor's story presents a fascinating glimpse into life and death in Ancient Egypt. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 27th May.

Her Maj: 60 Years Of Unofficial Portraits Of The Queen celebrates the Diamond Jubilee with a humorous history of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. A gallery of royal portraits - affectionate, teasing, and at times downright unflattering - shows how Her Majesty's appearance in cartoons has undergone a striking transformation during the course of her reign. Until the 1950s it was accepted that the monarch could be referred to but never depicted. The exhibition follows the Queen as she emerges from near invisibility into cartoons that echo her portrait on coins and bank notes, then as Elizabeth I or Britannia, and finally as 'Liz' an 'ordinary housewife' in a headscarf. The greater openness of the 1960s led cartoonists to imagine what life was really like 'at home with the Windsors' in royal residences ankle deep in corgis. The ups and downs of family life, the indiscretions of her husband, the difficulties with her children and their spouses, and problems with the press, provided a rich vein of material for cartoonists, as did the question of the monarchy and public money. Many of the works reflect the fact that the Queen represents both the Monarchy and the State, and thus her actions can convey historic significance beyond that of any prime minister. The exhibition includes 80 works by over 30 cartoonists, including Steve Bell, Peter Brookes, Dave Brown, Michael Cummings, Fluck and Law, Stanley Frankin, Nicholas Garland, Carl Giles, Martin Honeysett, Nicola Jennings, John Jensen, Richard Jolley, MAC Ken Pyne, Martin Rowson, E H Shepard, Ralph Steadman and Wally Fawkes aka Trog. The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russel Street, London WC1, until 8th April.

Lucian Freud: Portraits is the first exhibition to focus on the portraiture work of one of the most important and influential British artists of his generation. Paintings of people were central to the work of Lucian Freud, and this exhibition features 130 paintings and works on paper, spanning over 70 years. The show includes 'Portrait of the Hound', the unfinished painting of his assistant David Dawson and his dog Eli, on which Freud was working until shortly before his death last year. Freud's portraits are hard, disquieting things, attuned to the tough reality of bare, veiny sprawling bodies, and the jaundiced walls, gummy sheets and cruel furniture around them. Concentrating on particular periods and groups of sitters to show Freud's stylistic development and technical virtuosity, the exhibition includes both iconic and rarely seen portraits of the artist's lovers, friends and family. Described by Freud as 'people in my life', these portraits demonstrate the psychological drama and unrelenting observational intensity of his work. Sitters in the exhibition include family members, particularly his mother Lucie, artists such as Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, Michael Andrews, John Minton and David Hockney, and the performance artist Leigh Bowery. Bowery's friend Sue Tilley, the 'Benefits Supervisor', who was immortalised by Freud in a series of monumental paintings in the 1990s, is also featured. Other sitters on view include photographer Harry Diamond, Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Andrew Parker Bowles, Baron Rothschild, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza and Francis Wyndham. In addition, the exhibition also highlights the recurring importance of the self-portrait in Freud's work. National Portrait Gallery until 27th May.

The Living And The Dead: Paintings And Sculpture By John Kirby is the first retrospective of work by the contemporary Liverpool born artist. John Kirby's paintings and sculpture explores the themes of gender, religion, sexuality and race, and his complex relationship with each of them. Comprising over 50 paintings and 10 sculptures, the exhibition brings together a group of work spanning over 3 decades, from early paintings made at the Royal College of Art in the 1980s to recent pieces. Solitary figures in strange worlds dominate Kirby's work, and this has led many people to compare his paintings to those of Rene Magritte. However, Kirby cites the Polish-French Modern artist Balthus and American realist painter Edward Hopper as his major influences. The claustrophobic interiors charged with an uncomfortable eroticism seen in Balthus' paintings, and statements about the human condition in Hopper's, are themes that also underpin Kirby's work. Highlights of the exhibition include 'Lost Boys', an image of fighting altar boys that references Kirby's Catholic upbringing and is one of his favourite paintings; 'White Wedding', a painting depicting a civil partnership; and the sculpture 'Actaeon', a human head sprouting antlers, mounted on a wall like a hunting trophy. The sculptures in the exhibition are a more recent development in his artistic practice but also a continuation of it, with his ceramic sculptures of heads and figures bearing a striking similarity to the figures found in his paintings. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, until 15th April.

Queen Elizabeth II By Cecil Beaton: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration depicts The Queen in her roles as princess, monarch and mother. Photographer, designer and avid diarist Cecil Beaton's royal portraits were among the most widely published photographs of the 20th century. The exhibition explores Beaton's long relationship with Queen Elizabeth II, who was a teenage princess when she first sat for Beaton in 1942. Over the next three decades, Beaton photographed her on many significant occasions including her Coronation Day. The exhibition features nearly 100 portraits, from wartime photographs with her family, to tender images with her own young children, and official portraits that convey the magnitude of her role as Britain's monarch. It shows elegant and highly-staged photographs alongside informal moments of the Royal Family at home, interspersed with film and radio footage from the time. Extracts from Beaton's diaries and letters reveal an insight into the working practice of a royal sitting, from the intense planning beforehand to conversations with The Queen, and the pressures of achieving the perfect portrait. A selection of Beaton's original contact prints, from which the Palace chose the images released to the media are on display for the first time, with volumes of press cuttings. The exhibition also demonstrates how Beaton controlled the use of his photographs, revealing the press embargo, cropping instructions and notes on the sitting scribed on the reverse of his extensively published image of The Queen and newborn Prince Andrew from March 1960. The exhibition is arranged in five sections documenting important sittings and charting the shift in Beaton's photographic style, from his early Rococo-inspired portraits to a starker approach in the 1960s. Victoria & Albert Museum until 22nd April.


FCB Cadell is the first solo exhibition of the work of one of the four artists popularly known as The Scottish Colourists to be held in a public gallery in 70 years. Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell is perhaps the most elegant of the Colourists, renowned for stylish portrayals of Edinburgh New Town interiors and the sophisticated society that occupied them, vibrantly coloured, daringly simplified still lifes and figure studies of the 1920s, and evocative depictions of his beloved island of Iona. As with the other Colourists, Cadell spent time in France early on in his career, and had direct contact with French painting from Manet and the Impressionists to Matisse and the Fauves. Cadell's tightly-cropped compositions, usually approached at an angle, the flat application of paint, and his use of brilliant colour, resulted in interiors, still lifes and figure studies that count amongst the most remarkable paintings in British art of the period. The exhibition brings together almost 80 of these paintings, many of which have rarely, if ever, been shown in public before. Highlights include 'The Blue Fan', 'The Embroidered Cloak', 'Still Life with White Teapot', 'Interior The Orange Blind', 'Interior Croft House', 'Portrait of a Lady in Black', 'Florian's Cafe, Venice', 'St Mark's Square, Venice ', 'The Harbour, Cassis', 'The Tail of Mull from Ioana', 'Pulpit Rock, Iona', 'The Croft ', and 'Ioana'. Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art, Edinburgh, until 18th March.

Graham Sutherland: An Unfinished World is an exploration of the lesser-known works of one of the most compelling British artists of the mid 20th century. The exhibition brings together over 80 of Graham Sutherland's rarely seen works on paper, studies and sketches that possess a quickness and fluidity that his finished paintings often lack. It concentrates on Sutherland's early Pembrokeshire landscapes from the 1930s and 1940s, works created during his time as an official war artist during the Second World War, and after his return to Pembrokeshire in the 1970s. Far from traditional studies of landscape and environment, these works not only depict but also exude a world that is as dark as it is magical, as elusive as it is recognisable. Strangely bereft of human life, the works navigate the real and imagined, where country lanes loop into each other, horizon lines fold into foregrounds, and nothing is as it seems. Sutherland was exhilarated by the 'exultant strangeness' of the Pembrokeshire landscape, but the natural forms he painted are fuelled just as much by his imagination. This is revealed in distinctly dark ruminations of the soul, a devastating vision that appears just as apocalyptic before the war as it does during it or in its immediate aftermath. The exhibition shows Sutherland as an artist as much rooted in the past as in the world before him - a world forever unfinished. Modern Art Oxford until 18th March.

Royal Manuscripts: The Genius Of Illumination provides a rare opportunity to see richly illuminated manuscripts previously belonging to the kings and queens of England. The exhibition comprises 154 colourful and gilded handwritten books, dating from between the 9th and 16th centuries. The manuscripts offer unique insights into the lives and aspirations of those for whom they were made, enriching understanding of both the monarchy and the Middle Ages. Many documents played an active role in the development of kings and knights, and provided moral and practical guidance, as well as lessons in history, politics and geography. A critical part of the nation's cultural heritage, these manuscripts have survived in astonishingly good condition, retaining their vivid colours and gleaming gold detail. English kings from the Anglo-Saxons to the Tudors commissioned and owned luxurious handwritten copies of Christian texts. These included small, handheld prayerbooks for personal devotion, and large, lavish Gospel books and Bibles given to royal foundations for display and liturgical use. Their magnificence reflects both the status and wealth of their owners and the desire to glorify God by adorning his Word with the most precious of materials. A range of manuscripts aided monarchs in understanding and presenting their status as royalty. Genealogical rolls and historical chronicles underpinned their right to rule, while coronation books documented the formal ceremony authenticating their authority. Accompanying objects providing context for the manuscripts include a life size standing king from the Bristol Cross; a 15th century stone shield carved and painted with the arms of England; the skull of a medieval lion previously kept at the Tower of London; and a tapestry depicting the dead body of the Trojan hero Hector. The British Library, until 13th March.