Private View held by Richard Andrews
Constructing Worlds: Photography And Architecture In The Modern Age looks beyond simply documenting the built world to explore the power of photography to reveal wider truths about society. The exhibition brings together over 250 works, some rarely ever seen and many shown in Britain for the first time, by 18 leading photographers from the 1930s to now, who have changed the way we view architecture and think about the world in which we live. It offers a global journey around 20th and 21st century architecture, with highlights such as Berenice Abbott's ground-breaking photographs charting the birth of the skyscraper and the transformation of New York into a modernist metropolis in the 1930s; Walker Evans's images of the vernacular architecture of the Deep South, which bore witness to the adverse consequences of modernity in the Great Depression; Lucien Herve's subtle evocations of modernity as found in Chandigarh by Le Corbusier, a modernist symbol of a newly independent India; Julius Shulman's images of the experimental architecture and ideal luxury lifestyle encapsulated in California in the 1950s; the moving nature of Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum under construction as seen by London based photographer Helene Binet; the recent dramatic growth of Chinese urbanisation in huge structures recorded by Nadav Kander; Luisa Lambri's exploration into the reality of inhabiting and living a modernist lifestyle in domestic architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright; the response to the impersonality of individual works of architecture in Andreas Gursky's monumental photographs; and the devastating effects of war in Afghanistan as expressed in the poignant images of Simon Norfolk. Barbican Art Gallery, London, until 11th January.
Fair Faces, Dark Places: Prints And Drawings By William Strang offers a diverse selection of works by the 19th century Scottish artist. The prints and drawings in the exhibition reflect William Strang's versatility as an artist, as well as his technical skill. Strang's subjects ranged from those based in reality, highlighting the stark poverty and social injustice of Victorian Britain, with images such as 'Despair', to the truly fantastical, including strange and macabre allegories such as 'Grotesque', which was inspired by a dream and reflects the influence of Goya, European Symbolist painting and the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. Strang was an advocate for the revival of the hand-printed book and made many narrative illustrations for books, periodicals and his own Scots dialect ballads. Those on show include 'Toomai of the Elephants', an illustration for Rudyard Kipling's short stories, as well as examples of his etchings of subjects from Miguel de Cervantes's 'Don Quixote'. Strang was also a prolific portraitist who produced memorable images of leading artistic and literary figures, as well as his family and friends. Two portraits of Strang's most famous sitter, the poet and novelist Thomas Hardy, offer a comparison between a preparatory pencil study made directly from life, and the finished, more famous (and more flattering) etched version. Strang made many self-portraits, including one example featured here in which he typically depicts himself surrounded by a printing press, prints in various states, bottles of ink and other tools of his trade. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, until 15th February.
Russian Avant Garde Theatre - War, Revolution And Design 1913 - 1933 comprises radical set and costume designs by celebrated figures of the Russian avant-garde working in the theatre. Created over the course of two decades marked by the Russian revolutions and First World War, the works represent an extraordinary point in Russian culture, during which artistic, literary and musical traditions underwent profound transformations. New types of theatrical productions demanded innovative design solutions and benefitted from the unprecedented symbiosis of artists, musicians, directors and performers that characterized the period. Artists who worked in a variety of mediums including painting, architecture, textiles, photography and graphics worked collaboratively on theatrical productions to create a rich variety of design. The majority of the items in the exhibition come from Moscow's Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum collection, for productions ranging from classics, such as Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet and Hamlet, to unfamiliar propagandist plays. Among the 150 works featured are Kazimir Malevich's sketches and lithographs for Victory Over The Sun, a Futurist opera which premiered in 1913 in St Petersburg; and Liubov Popova's set model for The Magnanimous Cuckold, a 1922 farce by Fernand Crommelynck, performed at the radical Meyerhold Theatre, which was comprised of a mechanical mill, with wheels and conveyer belts. Other artists in the exhibition include Alexander Rodchenko, Vladimir Tatlin, Alexandra Exter, El Lissitsky and Varvara Stepanova. Victoria & Albert Museum until 25th January.
Rembrandt: The Late Works provides a unique opportunity to experience the passion, emotion and innovation of the greatest master of the Dutch Golden Age. Far from diminishing as he aged, Rembrandt's creativity gathered new energy in the closing years of his life. It is the art of these late years - soulful, honest and deeply moving - that indelibly defines the enduring image of Rembrandt the man and the artist. The exhibition of around 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints gives an insight into some of Rembrandt's most iconic works such as 'The Sampling Officials of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild', better known as 'The Syndics', revealing his brilliance in combining light and shadow and colour and texture, to give a radical visual impact to a traditional portrait. Numerous examples of Rembrandt's finest etchings demonstrate his skilful development of printing techniques to achieve unique effects. A highlight of the exhibition is the juxtaposition of a number self portraits including 'Self Portrait as the Apostle Paul', 'Self Portrait with Two Circles', 'Self Portrait Wearing a Turban' and 'Self Portrait at the Age of 63', the latter two, painted in the final years of his life, showing Rembrandt's exceptional honesty in recording his own features as he aged. Other key works on view include: 'The 'Jewish Bride', 'An Old Woman Reading', 'A Man in Armour', 'A Young Woman Sleeping', 'Juno', 'Portrait of a Blond Man', 'The Suicide of Lucretia', 'Bathsheba with King David's Letter', 'Titus at his Desk', 'A Portrait of a Lady with a Lap Dog', 'Lucretia', 'A Woman Bathing in a Stream' and 'Portrait of Frederik Rihel on Horseback'. National Gallery until 18th January.
Silent Partners: Artist & Mannequin From Function To Fetish uncovers a playful, uncanny - and sometimes disturbing - history from the Renaissance to the present day. For centuries, the mannequin, or lay figure, was little more than a studio tool, a piece of equipment as necessary as easel, pigments and brushes. This exhibition reveals the multiple purposes it serves, from fixing perspective and painting reflections, to being a support for drapery and costume, and shows how it gradually moved centre stage to become the subject of the painting, photograph or film, eventually becoming a work of art in its own right. The exhibition features over 180 paintings, drawings, books and photographs, as well as fashion dolls, trade catalogues, extraordinary patent documents and videos. These include paintings and drawings by Cezanne, Poussin, Gainsborough, Millais, Ford Madox Brown and Degas, as well as photographs by and of Surrealist artists such as Man Ray, Hans Bellmer and Salvador Dali, and works by Jake and Dinos Chapman showing that today artists continue to be drawn to the creative potential unleashed by artificial Others. Nevertheless, among the most striking and fascinating exhibits are the mannequins themselves: from beautifully carved 16th century small-scale figurines to haunting wooden effigies, painted dolls of full human height and top-of-the range 'stuffed Parisian' lay figures that were sought after by artists throughout Europe. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 25th January.
Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived And Will Never Die delves into the mind of the world's most famous fictional detective. Asking who is Sherlock Holmes, and why does he still conjure up such enduring fascination, the exhibition explores how Arthur Conan Doyle's creation has transcended literature onto stage and screen, and continues to attract huge audiences. It places the character under the microscope to dissect the traits that define him and illuminate his world, including his intimate association with London. Going beyond film and fiction the display looks at the real Victorian London, the backdrop for many of Conan Doyle's stories. Through early film, photography, paintings and original artefacts, the exhibition recreates the atmosphere of Sherlock's London and the places that the detective visited. The evolution of Holmes and his portrayal in popular culture on stage and screen is considered, including the performances of William Gillette, Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett, with each actor offering clues to why Holmes has endured, reinvented for generation after generation. Highlights include a portrait of Arthur Conan Doyle painted by Sidney Paget in 1897, which has never been on public display in Britain before; original hand written pages from Edgar Allan Poe's manuscript of The Murders In The Rue Morgue, part of Conan Doyle's influences for Holmes; the first copies of The Strand magazine in which the stories appeared, together with original illustrations by Sidney Paget; the original manuscript of The Adventure Of The Empty House; and the iconic Belstaff coat and the Derek Rose camel dressing gown worn by Benedict Cumberbatch in the current Sherlock television series. Museum of London until 12th April.
Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963 - 2010 is a retrospective of the work of one of the most experimental artists in the latter part of the 20th century. The exhibition is the first to fully encompass the enormously varied range of materials with which Sigmar Polke worked. Polke explored ideas of contamination and transformation, working with antiquated and sometimes poisonous pigments, extracting dye from boiled snails, and using materials as varied as gold leaf, meteorite powder, bubble wrap, potatoes and soot. Photographs were made by exposing the paper to uranium, while paintings were created by brushing photosensitive chemicals onto canvas. The exhibition includes several films where Polke played with double-exposure, just as paintings would have layers of transparent imagery. In the 1960s, while still a student, he created sharp critiques of the growing consumer society of West Germany, transcribing by hand the cheaply printed images he found in mass media to create such works as 'Girlfriends'. Political and social commentary was a constant thread throughout Polke's work, from 'The Sausage Eater' to 'Police Pig'. His irreverent attitude and ironic humour was a product of the cynicism with which he viewed all forms of authority, and he often confronted the remnants of National Socialism in his imagery, for instance in his haunting series of 'Watch Towers' from the mid 1980s, which evoke the structures on the perimeters of concentration camps. Polke became even more experimental towards the end of his career, pushing the boundaries between different media. The exhibition shows how he used photocopiers to make new distorted compositions, while the 'Lens Paintings' attempt to emulate holograms in their use of semi-transparent layers of materials. Tate Modern until 8th February.
Ordinary Beauty: The Photography Of Edwin Smith is a retrospective of one of Britain's foremost 20th century photographers. Edwin Smith captured the essence of the everyday in the people, places, landscapes and buildings that he photographed. His images connote a particular kind of Britishness, one which is eccentric and often nostalgic, and his work was, in part, a plea on behalf of Britain's architectural heritage. This exhibition features over 100 images from his collection of over 60,000 negatives and 20,000 prints, from the 1930s to the 1960s. Smith was highly sought-after by publishers, and in the 1950s he was commissioned by Thames & Hudson for a series of books, among them 'English Parish Churches', 'English Cottages & Farmhouses', 'Scotland', 'England' and 'The Living City: A New View of the City of London'. His work also featured in Vogue, Shell Guides and numerous other publications to illustrate features and books on subjects varying from 'Great Houses of Europe' to 'The Wonders of Italy'. From urban scenes documenting British social history to evocative landscape images and atmospheric interiors, the images displayed reveal the genius and breadth of his work. Alongside his images of Britain the exhibition shows photographs taken on his travels to Europe as well as his published books and photographic equipment. Specially filmed contributions ranging from Alan Bennett to broadcaster Gillian Darley offer personal perspectives of Smith's work. RIBA Architecture Gallery, 66 Portland Place, London W1.
Designing The 20th Century: Life And Work Of Abram Games celebrates the work of one of the most important and influential figures of 20th century graphic design. The exhibition of over 100 original posters, paintings, preparatory sketches, archive objects and photographs explores Abram Games's immigrant roots, his Jewish background and his enormous contribution to British design. Games started his career as a freelance artist, producing posters for clients such as London Transport, before becoming an official war poster artist during the Second World War, when he designed 100 posters. His iconic works for campaigns such as ATS recruitment and wartime safety used simple and often stark images and clear typography to convey strong messages, and to create images that remain powerful today. Games's post-war career was hugely successful, designing posters and emblems for an array of important British institutions such as the BBC, commercial companies including the Financial Times, Shell and Guinness, charities, the Olympic Games, the United Nations and the logo for the Festival of Britain. As well as graphics, Games also worked in industrial design, including a coffee maker and a copying machine for the manufacturers Gestetner. Jewish Museum, Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert St, London NW1, until 4th January.
Joan Fontcuberta: Stranger Than Fiction is the first major exhibition in Britain of work by the contemporary Catalan artist. It is an eye-opening collection of photographs and artefacts in which Joan Fontcuberta subtly questions the use of the photographic image as evidence, by combining visually compelling and mischievous narratives with an acute, deadpan humour. Using the visual languages of journalism, advertising, museum displays and scientific journals, these convincing yet subversive works are an investigation into photography's authority and our inclination to believe what we see. The exhibition features some of Fontcuberta's best known works, including photographs, film, dioramas, scientific reports and related ephemera. A youth under the Franco dictatorship and an early career in advertising piqued Fontcuberta's interest in the use of the photographic image as a storytelling tool, which developed into a life-long creative interrogation of photography's veracity. In constantly shifting his methods to encompass new developments in photographic practice, Fontcuberta remains one of the most innovative practitioners in his field. With highlights including astonishing photographs of mermaid fossils and incredible reports on mysterious fauna, the display presents six conceptually independent narratives from Fontcuberta's body of work, a visual universe in which the real and the imagined combine to startling effect. Science Museum, London, until 9th November.
Lee Bul is the first solo show in Britain of works by the contemporary South Korean artist. This survey of early drawings, studies, sculptural pieces and installations showcases the visually compelling and intellectually sharp works that have established Lee Bul as one of the most important artists of her generation. Early street performance-based pieces saw Lee Bul wearing full-body soft sculptures that were both alluring and grotesque. Her later female 'Cyborg' sculptures of the 1990s drew upon art history, critical theory, science fiction and popular imagination to explore anxieties arising out of dysfunctional technological advances, whilst simultaneously harking back to icons of classical sculpture. Lee Bul's recent works include sculptures suspended like chandeliers, elaborate assemblages that glimmer with crystal beads, chains and mirrors, poignantly evoke castles in the air. The sculptures reflect utopian architectural schemes of the early 20th century as well as images of totalitarianism from Lee Bul's early experiences. 'Mon grand recit: Weep into stones …' with its mountainous topography is reminiscent of skyscrapers. Scaffolding supports several scale model structures: a looping highway made of bent plywood, a tiny Tatlin's Monument, a modernist staircase that features in Fellini's La Dolce Vita, and an upturned cross-section of the Hagia Sophia. A new work 'After Bruno Taut (Devotion to Drift)' is a suspended sculpture, dripping with an excess of crystalline shapes and glass beads, referencing the exponential growth and unsustainability of the modern world. Ikon Gallery, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, until 9th November.
Frank Auerbach: Paintings And Drawings From The Lucian Freud Estate offers the first public view of the most significant private collection of paintings and drawings by one of Britain's greatest living artists. The works by Frank Auerbach were collected by the painter Lucian Freud throughout his life and hung in his house in London until his death in 2011. The works on display span Auerbach's career from his student days in the late 1940s up to 2007. Auerbach repeatedly returned to the same subjects over decades, constantly finding new and different ways to explore the indefinable qualities and raw sensations stimulated by the forms and structures he sees. The collection encompasses two subjects to which he has constantly returned: landscapes of London and portraits of friends and relatives of the artist who have sat for Auerbach for long periods of time. It also includes a group of five sketches, including birthday cards which show the friendship and respect that Auerbach and Freud had for each other. The portraits comprise works on paper of an intimate group of sitters, mainly of Estella (Stella) Olive West, his principal model between the early 1950s and 1973, and his wife Julia. The landscapes feature subjects such as 'Rebuilding the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square', showing Auerbach's interest in the rebuilding of London in the post war years; and 'Mornington Crescent - Winter Morning', charged with the zigzagging energy of the moving clouds and bare trees. Tate Britain until 9th November.