News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th January 2008

Commencing

The Return Of The Gods: Neoclassical Sculpture is the first exhibition in Britain to focus the full range of British neoclassical sculpture. It brings together around 30 major figurative works created by British artists or for British patrons from around 1760 to 1860. These extraordinary marble pieces were designed to astonish and captivate, as artists exploited previously unexplored subjects, taken from classical mythology, literature, and ancient and modern history, in order to depict the nude with unprecedented freedom, vitality and sensuality. Artists created emotional figure groups and scenes, and portrayed contemporary people in new ways - their faces and hairstyles, poses and expressions reflecting the idealism and purity of the style. From the grace of Canova's 'The Three Graces' to the dramatic vigour of Thomas Banks's 'The Falling Titan', the human figure, transformed and idealised in white marble, was the essence of this sculpture. Observation of the body, realisation of soft flesh in permanent and beautiful stone, inspired by and transcending classical models from Ancient Rome and Greece, led to the creation of these outstanding masterpieces of figurative sculpture. Other works on display include Thomas Banks's 'Thetis Dipping Achilles into the Styx', John Gibson's 'Hylas Surprised by the Naiades', Nollekens's 'Venus Chiding Cupid and Mercury' and Thorvaldsen's 'Three Graces'. The exhibition also includes an example of antique sculpture, restored in the 18th century, which contrasts with the neoclassical pieces, while highlighting the origins of the style. Tate Britain until 8th June.

Marcel Broodthaers is the most comprehensive exhibition of work by the renowned Belgian artist to be seen in Britain for nearly 30 years. Marcel Broodthaers was a poet, photographer, film maker and artist, and throughout his career challenged the role of the artwork, the artist and the art institution. Considered to be one of the most important artists of the last century, Broodthaers' work and thinking is highly influential on many artists working today. His art lay in the evocative cross associations set up by combining disparate objects, texts and drawings, in ways that made the mundane mysterious. This exhibition explores the diversity of Broodthaers' practice including books, editions, objects, 'assemblage sculptures', projections and paintings. It features several works never seen in the UK before, including his first artwork, 'Pense Bete', which addresses his enduring concerns about form and language and the construction of meaning. The highlight of the show is 'Miroir d'Epoque Regency', comprised of twelve different 'sections', founded with the 19th century section in his Brussels house. The mirror reflects the gallery and viewer back on themselves, questioning the role of the institution and the visitor within it. The exhibition also includes examples of his renowned shell works - mussels and eggs - as in 'Grande Casserole de Moules', and '289 Coquilles d'Oeufs'. The egg and mussel shell became a recurrent symbol in Broodthaers's work as a means of questioning the social function of the artwork - as Broodthaers announced "Everything is eggs. The world is eggs". (Funny, I thought that was Patricia Hayes in the 1950s Tony Hancock egg commercials.) Milton Keynes Gallery until 30th March.

Laughing In A Foreign Language explores the role of laughter and humour in contemporary art (something you might consider to be either inadvertent or conspicuous by its absence). In a time of increasing globalisation, this international exhibition questions if humour can only be appreciated by people with similar cultural, political or historical backgrounds and memories, or whether laughter can act as a catalyst for understanding what you are not familiar with. The exhibition encompasses the whole spectrum of humour, from jokes, gags and slapstick to irony, wit and satire, by bringing together more than 70 videos, photographs and interactive installation works by contemporary artists from around the world, some well known, some less so. The questions are: is the art funny? and are the jokes art? Judge for yourself if humour is universal - and if these artists have a sense of it. The works featured are by Makoto Aida, Kutlug Ataman, Azorro, Guy Ben-Ner, John Bock, Candice Breitz, Olaf Breuning, Cao Fei, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Marcus Coates, Harry Dodge and Stanya Khan, Doug Fishbone, Ghazel, Gimhongsok, Matthew Griffin, Nina Jan Beier and Marie Jan Lund, Taiyo Kimura, Peter Land, Janne Lehtinen, Kalup Linzy, Yoshua Okon, Ugo Rondinone, Julian Rosefeldt, Shimabuku, David Shrigley, Nedko Solakov, Barthelemy Toguo, Roi Vaara, Martin Walde, Jun Yang. Hayward Gallery until 13th April.

Continuing

From Russia: French And Russian Master Paintings 1870 - 1925

provides a unique opportunity to explore the exchange that existed between French and Russian art during a crucial period that was witness to upheaval and revolution. The exhibition is grouped by four themes. The first features works by French and Russian realists, focusing on Russian landscape, contemporary social issues, and scenes from traditional peasant life, by Ilya Repin, Ivan Kramskoy, Isaak Levitan, Valentin Serov and Mikhail Nesterov, together with paintings by French artists Theodore Rousseau, Charles Daubigny, Jean-Francois Millet, Jules Bastien-Lepage and Albert Besnard. The second displays masterpieces from the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections of Ivan Morosov and Sergei Shchukin, including Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, van Gogh, Gauguin and Picasso, and features one of the highlights of the show, Matisse's 'The Dance', which was commissioned by Shchukin. The third is devoted to the theatrical impresario and exhibition maker Sergei Diaghilev, with works by Alexander Benois, Leon Bakst, Boris Kustodiev, Nochiolas Roerich, Alexander Golovin and Valentin Serov. The fourth features Modernism and the cross-currents between Russian and French art: Wasily Kandinsky who combined the imagery of Russian fairy tales and Fauvist colour; Marc Chagall who adapted elements of French Cubism to a distillation of Russian-Jewish folklore; Cubo-Futurist works by artists such as Natalia Goncharova; and Suprematism, the radical, purely abstract style pioneered by Kazimir Malevich. Royal Academy of Arts, 26th January to 18th April.

Joanna Kane: The Somnambulists - Photographic Portraits From Before Photography consists of a haunting series of photographic portraits taken from a famous Edinburgh collection of life and death masks. In the early 19th century it was common to have these masks made - a direct 3D imprint of the face of a person at the time of their death, and sometines in life of 'swoonings' or trances - as part of a romantic fixation with death. Using contemporary digital techniques, Joanna Kane has reached into the past to bring figures from Scottish history to life. Animating her portraits to suggest an illusory sense of the living subject of the cast, Kane magically renders photographic likenesses from before the age of photography. The exhibition poses questions about portraiture, the history and origins of photography, connections between photography and the life or death mask, and the influences of phrenology on art. The images are shown alongside examples of actual life and death masks from the collection of the Edinburgh Phrenological Society. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, until 6th April.

Breaking the Rules - The Printed Face Of The European Avant Garde 1900 - 1937 explores the creative transformation that took place in Europe during the first four decades of the 20th century - a revolution that encompassed visual art, design, photography, literature, theatre, music and architecture. Between 1900 and 1937 the avant garde consisted of a series of overlapping movements, such as Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Dadaism, Constructivism and Surrealism. Because of its very nature, the avant garde was denied traditional modes of communication and exhibition, so participants became adept at finding alternative outlets, publishing their own manifestos, poetry, magazines and books, and creating new genres, such as the artist's book and the photo-book. These frequently employed innovative design and typography, still influential today. Such groups were often synonymous with specific magazines and this period was the last one in which the printed format was the primary mode for communicating information; film and broadcasting were ready to take over. This exhibition focuses on the printed work of avant-garde participants, demonstrating its importance to the various groups, and the way in which printed works helped to disseminate information and ideas internationally. The British Library, until 30th March.

Jean Prouve - The Poetics Of The Technical Object is the first comprehensive overview of the radical, innovative and influential work of the French designer and engineer to be staged in Britain. Prouve worked as both a designer and manufacturer, producing everything from bicycles for the French resistance to folded sheet steel armchairs, and prefabricated housing in the time of post Second World War reconstruction. He was a pioneering architect who invented High Tech design, and was responsible for the selection of Richard Rodgers and Renzo Piano to design the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the building that firmly established the movement. The exhibition is a comprehensive survey of Prouve's life and work, from his early career as a blacksmith, through the establishment of his factory producing components and structures, to later work as a consultant engineer. Architectural models, drawings, photographs and films are displayed alongside full scale structures, together with over 50 examples of his furniture designs. Prouve's fluid, functional designs developed not only the aesthetic possibilities of aluminium and steel, but also their economic and social applications. The exhibition demonstrates his central role in pioneering the use of metal in the mass production of both furniture and buildings in the 20th century. Design Museum until 25th March.

Sleeping Beauties: Walter Crane And The Illustrated Book presents highlights from the recently acquired Walter Crane Archive, spanning the career of the artist and designer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The broad selection includes Crane's early commissions, as well as original drawings for his famous Toy Book illustrations, flower books and political cartoons. Exploring the rich and varied subject matter within Crane's book designs, the exhibition brings to life the fantastic imagery in his work, as well as revealing the stories behind their inspiration and production. Crane's work is referenced by personal correspondence, photographs and hand written journals, as his own story is placed alongside fairy tale imagery, traditional stories and the private picture books created for his own children. The exhibition highlights various themes evident within Crane's practice, including his aspirations for political and social reform, as reflected in his vision of a picture book utopia. Crane's position as a leading figure of the aesthetic movement is explored through his imagery, as is his belief in the redemptive power of good design. Themes such as industrialisation, vegetarianism and man's relationship to the environment are explored in Crane's picture books, giving an insight into how these contemporary issues were regarded a century ago. The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, until March.

Medieval Ivories From The Thomson Collection is a selection of over 45 of the finest medieval carved ivories from the art collection of the late Kenneth Thomson. The display features most types of medieval ivory carving, with subjects ranging from the religious to the secular, including large statuettes of the Virgin and Child intended to stand on altars in chapels, together with small versions for private use in the home, and folding tablets or diptychs with scenes from the life of Christ carved in relief. Alongside these are carved writing tables, boxes and caskets, combs, hair parters, mirror cases with scenes of romantic encounters between young men and women, and a rare set of carved serving knives with fabulous beasts decorating the ivory handles. The centerpiece is an astonishingly carved Nativity and the Last Judgement, which until recently had been dismissed as a 19th century forgery, as its degree of accomplishment so far exceeds any other surviving medieval work. Other highlights include the Dormeuil Diptych of the Passion of Christ, the largest Passion diptych recorded, measuring 24.7cm by 31.4cm when opened, last on public display in 1913; a narrative comb showing two couples being transported to the fountain of youth in a carriage drawn by a horse and a mule, where they frolick naked in the waters; and a series of grisly memento mori beads designed to remind the owner of their own mortality, with heads on one side and worm eaten skulls on the other. Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London, until 9th March.

Concluding

Bauhaus 1919 - 1933 focuses on the step-change in art and design history that was brought about by the most important school of art, architecture and design of the 20th century. Bauhaus evolved a new language of art and design that was abstract and dynamic, and liberated from historicism. Its aim was to give modernity a precise physical form, embracing all branches of design, and to bridge the gap between art and industry. The exhibition comprises a selection of major exhibits by leading members of the Bauhaus movement, including the original manifesto designed by Lyonel Feininger and written by the architect Walter Gropius, examples of work by founding teachers of the Bauhaus, including Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Itten, Oskar Schlemmer, Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Josef Albers, selected film works by Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, architectural models, design, applied art, furniture, utensils and specially commissioned wall drawings. In addition, a series of photographic works by Hans Engels show a number of well known and surprising examples of Bauhaus architecture in their present condition. Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art until 17th February.

Back To The Future: Sir Basil Spence 1907 - 1976 is a retrospective of the eclectic career of the architect who, in the post Second World War building boom alone, designed a nuclear power station, an airport, the first of the 'new' universities and a cathedral, amongst many other projects - all of which looked forward to their users' future needs. The exhibition comprises over 200 works, with materials from the Spence archive, many never previously seen by the public. The show features a wide selection of original drawings, sketch books, designs and models, together with samples of materials and artefacts recovered from the projects, as well as period films showing the buildings in their original condition, giving a complete picture of Spence's design process. Among the projects featured are the university of Sussex in Brighton; the Household Cavalry Barracks in Knightsbridge; the extension to the parliament building in Wellington, New Zealand; pavilions at the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow 1938 and Expo 67 in Montreal, Canada; individual country houses together with landmark housing schemes in the Gorbals in Glasgow and Canongate in Edinburgh; libraries at the University of Edinburgh and Swiss Cottage in London; and Coventry Cathedral, with related artworks by Jacob Epstein, John Piper and Graham Sutherland. Dean Gallery, Edinburgh until 10th February.

Top Of The Bill is a display of a material from the National Fairground Archive collection of 20,000 items of ephemera, some dating back as far as the 16th century, The show features giant posters, handbills and other display materials advertising fairground events across the country, promoting international acts such as Barnum and Buffalo Bill, along with stranger home grown entertainment, including a 'Nyctalope' who could see in the dark, a Peristrephic Panorama, which involved a long band of canvas on which a continuous sequence of scenes was depicted (the first 'moving pictures'), and FC Burnand's illusions show involving moving curried prawns. In addition to advertisements for particular acts and shows, there are also many fairground, travelling show and circus scenes, capturing the excitement of the traditional rides, attractions and amusements, portrayed in various period styles, reflecting the social changes in public entertainment. In addition, there are colourful letterheads, receipts, tickets and other printed matter, all created in the extravagant and spectacular fairground design style. These materials are on view to the public for the first time in the exhibition space that forms part of the National Fairground Archive's new 'front of house'. This now allows access to its book and journal collections, including a complete set of World's Fair newspapers, microfilm reading facilities, and electronic resources, including its 80,000 image database. Western Bank Library University of Sheffield, until 7th February.