News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th November 2005

Commencing

Canaletto In Venice features the works that have largely shaped the British and the world's view of Venice. Canaletto's paintings and drawings fixed the 18th century city of canals, palaces, churches and squares in the popular imagination, and introduced townscapes as a genre. His greatest patron (and agent) was Joseph Smith, the British Consul in Venice, and the sale of Smith's entire collection to George III in 1762 brought into royal ownership the world's finest group of Canaletto's works, including an outstanding series of Venetian views. Fourteen panoramic paintings of the Grand Canal form the centrepiece of this exhibition, and are displayed together with 70 works on paper, the largest group of Canaletto's drawings ever shown in the UK. They offer a complete portrait of daily life in the heart of the city, from the quayside houses and workshops on the Grand Canal's upper reaches, through some of the most famous sights, such as the Piazzetta and the church of San Giorgio Maggiore, to the less well known churches and squares including San Giovanni Battista dei Battuti on the island of Murano, together with the festivities of a regatta, and Ascension Day celebrations around St Mark's Square. Among the highlights of the drawings are Canaletto's record of the Campanile undergoing repairs after a lightning strike, and a series of 'capricci', in which he rearranged the actual Venetian topography to create a city of his own imagination. The large Capriccio with a monumental staircase is among the greatest works of Canaletto's career. The Queen's Gallery Buckingham Palace until 23rd April.

Conrad Shawcross: The Steady States introduces three specially commissioned sculptures, designed for the galleries in which they are shown. They combine Shawcross's interest in sculpture, science and philosophy, and demonstrate the intellectual rigour, technical dexterity and sense of drama associated with his work. The pieces draw upon complex themes within the fields of cosmology, quantum mechanics and musical theory. Shawcross is particularly interested in how these elements combine and link with modern theories about the universe, such as 'the big bang' and 'string theory'. Despite the fact that all this sounds futuristic, the works have an old fashioned homemade Heath Robinson quality. 'Space Trumpet' (inspired by a primitive radio telescope) is like a huge gramophone horn waiting for a black and white dog the size of King Kong to stare at it. 'Harmonic Tower' is a massive version of a Harmonograph (the Victorian predecessor of the spirograph), which is the size of a Baywatch lookout tower. 'Loop System Quintet' comprises five wooden machines connected by a single drive-shaft that draw different but interconnected 'knots' of light in space (in ratios predetermined by the cogs that drive them related to theories of musical harmony) as though they were waving gigantic sparklers at a bonfire party. Seeing is disbelieving. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool until 26th February.

Sacred Silver And Stained Glass is new £1.6m gallery designed by John Ronayne. It features some of the finest examples of ecclesiastical metalwork in the country, from richly decorated medieval reliquaries to simple non-conformist communion vessels, together with stained glass from the 12th century to the present day. The gallery has the feeling of a cathedral nave with both natural light and a lighting system illuminating the objects. Christian objects from a number of denominations, including Protestant, Catholic, Non-Conformist and Greek Orthodox, and a small number of Jewish objects are on show. They are presented in the context of the beliefs they reflect, exploring patronage, how and why different types of silver vessels were used, and how changing religious practices affected their shapes and forms. Highlights among the 300 silver objects include: a German monstrance depicting The Last Supper, made in Augsburg in 1705 by Johann Zeckel; a 17th century Torah mantle and Italian silver filigree rimmonim; and a pair of Charles II silver-gilt 'sick cups' from 1683, used for giving communion to the sick at home. Flanking the gallery on both sides are displays of around 250 pieces of stained glass, claimed to be the best museum collection in the world. Highlights include: Gothic panels from Canterbury Cathedral, Saint-Denis and The Sainte-Chapelle in Paris; 16th century glass from Rouen; and a panel from the great west window of Fairford Church in Gloucestershire dating from about 1500, depicting an angel of the Last Judgement. The display also explains the materials and techniques used in making stained glass. Victoria & Albert Museum, continuing.

Continuing

The Regency Country House is the first ever comprehensive survey of the key English country houses of 1800 to 1830. In the mid 20th century, after several decades of neglect and the estimated loss of 1,700 English country houses, the surviving houses of the Regency period took on a new lease of life, partly thanks to Country Life authors such as Christopher Hussey, who played a significant role in the rediscovery and popularisation of the Regency period, a time when the English country house took on many of the qualities and attributes that we still take for granted today. The exhibition is illustrated with material from the Country Life Picture Library. It encompasses the princely palaces and houses associated with the Prince Regent, nobleman's houses such as Tregothnan, and Eastnor Castle, and gentleman's houses such as Southill, Bedfordshire and Sheringham. The work of leading country houses architects is featured, including the Wyatt dynasty, Henry Holland, John Nash, C R Cockerell, Robert Smirke, William Wilkins, Thomas Hopper, Humphry Repton and Sir John Soane. It is through the work of these architects that the exhibition explores major architectural themes of the Regency, from the emergence of the Graeco-Roman style to the Gothic Revival, the Picturesque and Cottage Ornee (rustic buildings of picturesque design) and the influential role of Thomas Hope, whose country house and garden at Deepdene influenced the revival of the Italian style of garden design. Sir John Soane Museum, London until 25th February.

Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon And The Pre-Raphaelites marks the centenary of the death of the little known Pre-Raphaelite painter, and is the first full scale display of his work since then. Solomon enjoyed early success, with paintings of biblical and classical subjects, and was regularly hailed by the critics as a genius. Indeed, Edward Burne-Jones is said to have called him "the greatest artist of us all". However, his career was effectively destroyed when his homosexuality became public knowledge in 1873. Soloman ended his life a destitute alcoholic in an East End workhouse, half forgotton, and even working as a pavement artist, but still producing powerful drawings and watercolours. This exhibition reveals the life and work of this complex artist, offering a chance to rediscover the outsider of British painting, and reassess his place in 19th century art. It brings together over 150 paintings, pencil and pen and ink drawings, watercolours and photographs, many of which have not been seen in public since Solomon's own lifetime, together with works by Solomon's friends and contemporaries including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Anthony Frederick Sandys, Walter Crane and the Belgian Symbolist Fernand Khnopff. Among the highlights are 'A Young Musician In The Temple Service During the Feast of the Tabernacle', 'The Child Jeremiah', 'Love in Autumn' and 'The Marriage Ceremony'. Birmingham Museum And Art Gallery until 15th January.

What Women Want is an exhibition assessing what women have campaigned, fought and longed for, both past and present. It includes a diverse range of iconic objects, such as the banners carried by suffragettes campaigning for the right to vote, and early editions of Spare Rib and Nova magazines, as well as more personal objects such as T-shirts and badges that convey the beliefs and desires of their owners. The journals of women who travelled the world a century ago demonstrate a desire for adventure and freedom beyond the confines of conventional Edwardian society, whilst in the 1980s, women made journeys to the Peace Camps at Greenham Common. Such campaigns for global peace and security are counterbalanced with visual material from campaigns against domestic violence, demanding safety and security at a basic personal level. Nigella Lawson's baking bible 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' and Barbara Cartland's 'Recipes for Lovers' stand in stark contrast to Erin Pizzey's The Slut's Cookbook, just as the 1970s 'Why be a Wife' campaign (slogan: Is there life after marriage?) contrasts with the aspirational glamour and idealised romance of Asian Bride magazine. The advent of plastic surgery as a 'lifestyle choice' is a contemporary phenomenon, but concerns with health, beauty and body image go a long way back, as shown in books and magazines from The Dress Review in 1903 to Marie Claire in 2003. The Women's Library, London until 26th August.

China: The Three Emperors, 1662 - 1795 presents the artistic and cultural riches of the three most powerful rulers of China's last dynasty, the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors. Some 400 works include such treasures as paintings and painted scrolls, jades and bronzes, porcelain and lacquer ware, precious robes and embroideries, palace furnishings, scientific instruments, weapons and ceremonial armour, and examples of calligraphy. They are largely drawn from the unique collections of the Palace Museum in Beijing, which was established on the site of the Imperial Palace, built in 1420, known as the Forbidden City. It combines the former imperial collections, and very few of its works have ever been seen outside China before. A spectacular range of paintings and objects illustrate the various activities, projects and accomplishments associated with the three emperors. Using the great painters of the court and the principal workshops of China who were at their command, they had themselves portrayed in magnificent paintings and commissioned dazzling works of art to the glory of the state. Among the highlights of the exhibition are court paintings illustrating the many different occasions that marked the calendar. Huge hanging scrolls 18 yards long, hand scrolls and albums show imperial palaces, hunting expeditions and journeys undertaken across the empire, together with representations of ceremonial events such as royal visits and the emperors' birthday celebrations. Royal Academy of Arts until 17th April.

James Turrell, the American installation artist who mixes art with science, has created three colour-light-space environments indoors in the new Underground Gallery. Turrell uses light to make sculpture by transforming the perceptions of those who enter his creations. The exhibition features a new work 'Ganzfield: Tight End', which envelopes the entire gallery and viewer in a blue radiance, recreating a 'ganzfeld experience' (first noted by Arctic explorers who suffered a temporary form of snow blindness as a result of gazing at endless fields of white) where atmosphere, diversity and the mass of light gradually become physically felt. The second, 'Gray Day', appears to be a completely black environment, so that visitors have to rely on their non visual senses, in which Turrell, using state of the art electronics, optics and physics, sets in motion primitive natural instincts, until eventually strange shapes begin to appear. The third, 'Wedgework V', is another dark space, where a complex series of glows unfold into an arrangement of ghostly rectangles and crisscrossing outlines, in which visitors have no way of finding their light sources, or whether they are voids or solids. A spooky 21st century haloween experience. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield until 3rd September.

Henri Rousseau: Jungles In Paris is the first exhibition to be held in the UK for 80 years of work by an artist who created some of the most popular and memorable paintings of the modern era. Rousseau is celebrated for his visionary jungle paintings that captivate the viewer with the lushness of their plant and animal life, painted with incredible detail and precision. Extraordinarily he never saw the tropical scenes he brought so much to life, as he never left France. Rousseau's exotic jungle paintings are the fantasies of a city dweller, constructed from visits to the zoo and botanical gardens in Paris, from postcards, books and from his imagination. These jungles offered him a dream of escape from humdrum reality to a savage and yet enchanting realm. Rousseau's unique vision was celebrated by his modernist contemporaries like Pablo Picasso and the surrealists Rene Magritte and Max Ernst, who saw his work as opening up new realms of artistic possibility. They were fascinated by his bold, primitive style and the dream like nature of his paintings. For a customs official who was self taught and only took up painting full time in retirement, this was an extraordinary accomplishment. The exhibition features 50 works, including an extensive group of jungle paintings, and draws comparisons between these and Rousseau's other main areas of artistic interest: Parisian landscapes, portraits and allegorical paintings. Also on display is a comprehensive survey of Rousseau's source materials, offering an insight into his working methods and the Paris of his time. Tate Modern until 5th February.

Concluding

From Futurism To Arte Povera: Works From The Marcello Levi Collection is selected from one of the leading collections of contemporary art in Italy. Over sixty years ago, Marcello Levi began with works by members of the Futurist movement, such as Giacomo Balla and Gerardo Dottori, and then became one of the earliest supporters of Arte Povera. His friendship with the artists enabled him to acquire a remarkable series of works that have rarely been shown in public. Arte Povera was a movement founded in the second half of the 1960s. Literally meaning 'poor art', the term refers to the choice of humble materials such as earth, iron, wood and rags, with which the artists aimed to challenge conventional means of creative expression, reduce the artificial gap between art and life and react against the commercialism of the art market. Like Futurism, it emerged at a time of dramatic socio-economic change, against a backdrop of political upheaval and technological expansion. Unlike the earlier movement, however, Arte Povera was internationalist in outlook and sceptical about industrialisation. Among the artists represented here are Mario Merz and Michelangelo Pistoletto, together with Kurt Schwitters, whose collages constructed from discarded items such as bus tickets, magazine clippings and other such 'debris' represent a highly innovative approach to materials which may be seen as anticipating that of Arte Povera itself. Also included are works by Modernists such as Man Ray, Joseph Beuys, Paul Klee and Andy Warhol. Estorick Collection, London until 18th December.

The Cambridge Illuminations: Ten Centuries Of Book Production In The Medieval West is a two venue exhibition of over 200 illuminated manuscripts dating from 6th to the 16th centuries, many on public view for the first time. Sacred and secular, scientific and humanistic, historical and literary, the range of manuscripts on display showcases the work of some of the greatest medieval and Renaissance illuminators, and includes commissions by the most celebrated patrons of learning and art, including the Kings of France and England, the Dukes of Burgundy and the Medici. Among the highlights are the 6th century 'Gospels of St Augustine', the earliest medieval illuminated manuscript known in this country, over which new Archbishops of Canterbury still swear their oaths; the 13th century Trinity 'Apocalypse', the largest and most sumptuously illuminated of all English Apocalypses; the Peterborough Bestiary, the Free Warren Charter, and Statutes of England from Henry III to Richard II, as well as numerous books of hours, bestiaries, Bibles, encyclopaedias, scientific and mathematical manuscripts, university foundation charters, and historical, mythological and geographical treatises. An entire gallery is devoted to the display of individual leaves from the renowned Macclesfield Psalter, produced around 1330, and recently saved for the nation, providing a unique opportunity to see the richness and variety of its illustrations, using precious pigments and gold. They combine devotional imagery with depictions of every day life and grotesque creations of the wildest imagination. The Fitzwilliam Museum and Cambridge University Library, Cambridge until 11th December.

Edvard Munch By Himself focuses on self portraits by the Norwegian artist, and it is the first time that such a large cross section, from all stages of his career, has been brought together. The exhibition comprises 150 paintings, drawings, etchings and sketchbooks, as well as rarely seen photographs. Starting with the first self portrait painted as a 17 year old student at the Royal School of Drawing, Kristiania, the exhibition concludes with the last works produced in seclusion at his house in Ekely in the 1940s. It provides a unique opportunity to survey Munch's career as he recorded himself passing through moments of self doubt, depression, illness and passion. Unlike the studio self portraits of other artists, Munch injected his own likeness into a variety of scenes, including the assassination of Marat, the decapitation of John The Baptist and the crucifixion of Christ. These works capture the Munch's obsession with his own physical and mental well being, concerns shaped by personal experiences, including the deaths of his mother and his elder sister from tuberculosis, and his own weak health and bouts of depression. Included in the exhibition are 'Self-portrait Man with Bronchitis', representative of his preoccupation with his health, and 'Self-Portrait Between Clock and Bed'. Munch's strong use of colour and distortion of the human form became characteristic of the way in which he communicated his feelings as a consequence of his personal experiences. His stark, uncompromising self portraits reflect his close friendship with and admiration for the work of his contemporaries, including among others, Henrik Ibsen, Knut Hamsun, and August Strindberg, who advocated the portrayal of the unconscious in their work. Royal Academy until 11th December.