Private View held by Richard Andrews
Gainsborough brings together the largest group of works by the 18th century master ever assembled, from collections around the world. Alongside some of the most iconic images in British art, the selection includes many lesser known pieces, some being seen in Britain for the first time in living memory. They demonstrate the range, quality and originality of Thomas Gainsborough's art, from the glamour of his society portraits, to the naturalism of his rural landscapes. He was one of the few major painters to be equally at home in both genres. There are works from his early years in London, less successful times in Ipswich, the 15 year period he spent in Bath where his 'face paintings' became the rage - "phizmongering" as he called it - to his later experimental period which put him in conflict with the Royal Academy. Among the grand full length portraits are Mary, Countess Howe, Sir Edward Turner, Lady Anne Rodney and The Linley Sisters. The landscapes, which Gainsborough referred to as his "fancy pictures" include The Harvest Wagon, Wooded Landscape with Country Wagon, Milkmaid and Drover, The Watering Place and Cottage Door with Girl and Pigs. This exhibition is spectacular proof (if it were needed) that Gainsborough deserves his place as one of the greatest British artists. Tate Britain until 19th January.
A Maverick Eye: The Photography Of John Deakin brings together images that are among the most significant - and the most overlooked - in the history of 20th century photography. His work has an intensity, clarity of vision, and brutal directness, that is fascinating and shocking in equal measure. Whether he was photographing writers, artists, fashion models or Hollywood stars for British Vogue (where he achieved notoriety for being fired twice) in the late 1940s and early 1950s, or portraying his artist and poet friends in the bohemian world of Soho, Deakin made no concessions to the vanity of his subjects, or 'victims' as he called them. His friend, the painter Francis Bacon, also commissioned and used Deakin's photographs as the basis for several of his works. The exhibition has been selected by Robin Muir, former picture editor at Vogue, and specialist on Deakin's work. It includes over 100 photographs, many previously unseen, of people and places, captured by the unrelenting eye of a photographer who was both loved and loathed for his character and his work. Dean Gallery, Edinburgh until 12th January.
Under Mussolini: Decorative And Propaganda Arts Of The Twenties And Thirties does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides an analysis of the events and tastes of the Fascist era through examples of furniture, glassware, ceramics, painting, sculpture and graphic design. Many of the leading artistic figures of the day are represented, including Gio Ponti, Duilio Cambellotti, Mario Sironi, Galileo Chini, Marcello Piacentini and Gerardo Dottori. The exhibition reveals how Fascist iconography, although frequently incorporated into the design of everyday objects, exerted only a minimal influence on the development of the applied arts, which drew more inspiration from the motifs of the vernacular tradition and the principle lines of modernism during this period. The image of Fascist Italy which the government sought to promote is explored through examples of political art and propaganda relating to a number of historically significant events, such as the colonial aggression of the 1930s, when the promotion of the image of a Fascist empire resulted in references to imperial Rome. It is the first time much of the work has been shown outside Italy. Estorick Collection until 22nd December.
Madame de Pompadour: Images Of A Mistress illustrates the life of the woman who rose from modest beginnings to become Louis XV's acknowledged mistress and one of the most powerful women of 18th century France. Attractive, educated, highly intelligent and a lavish patron at a time when France dominated the European artistic scene, she employed the best of her country's artists to depict her and to embellish her various residences. This exploration of one of the first examples of social and political 'spin' shows how Madame de Pompadour created an image of herself against a background of increasing domestic and international tensions. The exhibition comprises paintings, sculpture, porcelain, furniture, gems and prints. These include a number of portraits by Boucher (who made a career out of painting her) most notably the study with her back to a mirror, revealing the original Pompadour hairstyle, Carle Vanloo's portrait of her in oriental dress from St Petersburg, Greuze's Simplicity from Fort Worth, and one of her writing desks from Versailles - complete with a secret compartment. National Gallery until 12th January.
The Art of Love: Madame de Pompadour is a companion exhibition which centres on Madame de Pompadour's patronage of the arts and the furnishings of her residences. These reflected the epitome of fashionable taste of the time, and exhibits include lacquer furniture, four painted scenes depicting each of the arts, a gold snuff box with enamelled miniatures, a rock crystal ewer and basin, a design for her chateau at Bellevue, Sevres porcelain tea services and elephant shaped vases, and the pair of Boucher mythological paintings which depict Louis XV as the god Apollo and Madame de Pompadour as the sea nymph Tethys. The Wallace Collection until 5th January.
2D>3D: Contemporary Design For Performance is a showcase for the work of British theatre designers. It aims to demonstrate the process by which the initial two dimensional sketch comes to life in three dimensional reality, with costumes, scale models, photographs, design drawings, story boards, puppets, masks and props. It also features interactive digital displays of lighting designs, so that visitors can run their own scenic and lighting changes. The exhibition includes work created by 151 designers for 217 productions made between 1998 and 2002, across the full range of drama, dance, musicals and opera. These range in scale from the bigger budgets of national and regional theatres, to the more modest achievements in community and educational theatre. There is also a section devoted to new talent with work by theatre design students from major colleges. The event is organised by the Society of British Theatre Designers and is accompanied by an extensive programme of conferences and workshops. Millennium Galleries, Sheffield until 12th January.
London Before London is a new permanent prehistoric gallery, devoted to the story of the 450,000 years from the arrival of the first human species in the Thames valley until the Roman invasion. Items on display include not only human skeletal remains, pottery, wooden vessels, cooking pots, jewellery, coins, tools and weapons, but a mammoth jaw found in Ilford, a hippopotamus vertebra discovered Regent Street, and a rhino tooth unearthed in Brentford. Together they chart both the technological advances made by man, and the changes in climate that resulted in the evolving natural resources, both animal and vegetation, at his disposal. The Thames is central to the story of the people who lived along its banks. It was established as a major artery of communication and trade as long as 6,000 years ago and has provided a rich source of objects preserved in its mud, including a recently discovered boat about 3,500 years old. Human remains and objects usually associated with burials have also been found in the Thames. These suggest the use of the river as a burial site, or as a sacred place to make offerings to the ancestors or gods. A River Wall features almost 400 objects recovered from its banks. Museum Of London continuing.
Bond‚ James Bond celebrates the 40th anniversary of the films based on Ian Fleming's super agent by exploring their science and art, through the greatest collection of original 007 objects‚ images‚ concept drawings‚ storyboards and costume designs ever assembled. From Rosa Klebb's flick-knife shoe, Jaws' teeth and Oddjob's killer bowler hat, through the Aston Martin DB5 (complete with its weaponry), the Acrostar Jet and the Hasselblad Signature Gun, to plans for spectacular stunts, it is a behind the scenes tour of the creative talents and technical wizardry which made them possible. Themed areas include: a mission briefing in M's office, a visit to Q's gadget workshop‚ an interactive death defying stunt, and a mirrored maze in the villain's lair. Science has moved so fast that a number of the fantasy objects of early films, such as mobile phones and satellite tracking devices, are now everyday objects. Others, like the jet plane that folded into a horsebox, and the personal jet pack, have so far eluded practicality. Sadly, a number of the doomsday scenarios envisioned by the villains seem closer to reality too. The good news is however, that the scientific examination of these dastardly plans provided here, reveals that they would be harder to pull off than the villains thought. The Bond exhibition microsite on the Science Museum web site, which can be found via the link opposite, contains all manner of interactive secret agent wizardry. Science Museum until 27th April.
Versace At The V&A is a retrospective of the 30 year career of fashion designer Gianni Versace, which could be considered another milestone on the "Culture Lite" road. An ephemeral industry, which is already treated more seriously than it deserves, receives less scrutiny than it demands. At over 130 items, it the most comprehensive collection of originals from the Versace archives ever exhibited. All the favourites are here: Liz Hurley's safety pin dress, Elton John's check jacket, Linda Evangelista's gold, silver and black second skin outfit, and the shoes Naomi Campbell fell off. They illustrate the various influences at work on Versace, from the grandiose Imperial Greek and Roman, to the works of pop artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. The result was the most expensive clothing ever worn - trailer trash glamour at haute couture prices. Perhaps better known for the outlandishness, rather than the craft or quality of his designs, Versace certainly caught the mood of the '90s, when a dress could launch a career (and did). In addition to the creations themselves, there is also documentary footage of the life and career of the master of conspicuous consumption. Whether he genuinely deserves a place here alongside William Morris, or this is just a cheap marketing ploy by the V&A is debatable. Victoria & Albert Museum until 12th January.
Rapture: Art's Seduction By Fashion Since 1970 does exactly what it says on the tin, exploring the process by which the cancer of fashion and celebrity has eaten away at the body of art over the past 30 years. It features painting, photography, sculpture, installation and video, with works by 45 key British and American artists responsible for this process. 'Historical' figures include Nan Goldin, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Duggie Fields and Cindy Sherman. Most of the exhibition however is devoted to figures who have emerged in the last ten years, including star Young British Artists Tracey Emin, Sarah Morris and Jake and Dinos Chapman. It opens with Marc Quinn's life-size sculpture of Kate Moss wearing an Alexander McQueen dress, produced for a project commissioned by Vogue, and concludes with New York artist E V Day's specially made 'exploded dress' piece.
LaChapelle: Photographs is the first British exhibition of work by the cult American fashion and portrait photographer, whose unique blend of surrealism and kitsch has changed the direction of fashion and portrait photography over the past decade. David LaChapelle endeavours to capture popular icons as they have never been seen before: Madonna becomes an ethereal goddess served by three white swans, and Britney Spears is a glamorous Lolita in a bedroom full of stuffed toys. The exhibition also includes portraits of Alexander McQueen, Naomi Campbell and (inevitably) David Beckham. The Barbican Art Gallery until 23rd December.
Japanese Prints During The Allied Occupation 1945-1952 shows how Japan recovered culturally after its disastrous defeat in the Pacific War in 1945. It examines how one school of printmakers, under the leadership of Onchi Koshiro, found themselves as artists among the spokesmen for a new search for the nation's heart in its aesthetic traditions. Connoisseurs among the occupying forces and administrators rapidly appreciated their work, and an important part of this process was the meeting of Onchi and his circle, together with another artist Munakata Shiko, and the American graphic artist Ernst Hacker. This exhibition is principally comprised of material collected by Hacker at that time, including prints, printed books, archives and contemporary photographs, which were recently acquired by the museum and are on public display for the first time. By 1952, when the Allied Occupation ended, Onchi and Munakata were being eagerly collected in the USA. The two are now recognised throughout the world as Japan's greatest 20th century print artists, but it was the Americans who introduced them to the world. This exhibition provides an opportunity not only to see their works, but also to appreciate Japanese society in the transitional period under the Allied Occupation. British Museum until 1st December.
Body Worlds is definitely the exhibition of the moment. The real bodies with the skin taken off, and the remains dissected and put through a secret 'plastination' process, is dividing opinion right down the middle. The show comes trailing controversy stirred up by previous appearances in Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium over the last six years. Is it art? Is it education? Is it a fairground both event? Some find the opportunity to see what the inside of their bodies is actually like a profoundly moving experience. Others dismiss the whole thing as a Victorian freak show - an opinion fostered by the fact that the Professor Gunther von Hagens, the gentleman who prepared the exhibits, looks as though he has just stepped out of a Hammer Horror film. The process renders (if that is the correct word) the specimens much more real than previous methods of preservation, but the 25 corpses and 175 individual body parts can't be considered any more ghoulish for that. There is no question that this is unique event. Go or don't go according to your response, but you can't say you weren't warned. Atlantis Gallery, London until 1st December.
Pin-Up: Art & Celebrity Since The Sixties charts the changing face of our celebrity obsessed culture through the last forty years. From fashion and glamour to hero worship and body image, it examines the phenomenon of icons and idol culture (if culture is the word) in reference to film stars, pop stars and supermodels. In doing so it reflects the progress(?) from worshiping those in the past who at least did something, however minimal, to those now who merely are. Items range from Andy Warhol screen prints of Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando, and previously unseen photographs of Jimi Hendrix, BB King and Mick Jagger by Linda McCartney, through works by Peter Blake and Marlene Dumas, to current images of Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. What it doesn't do, is pose the question whether the need of so many artists to pander to and represent the famous isn't a sad reflection on the current impoverishment of artistic inspiration. Tate Liverpool until 24th November.