News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 31st October 2001


Exposed: The Victorian Nude focuses on the contradiction that while Victorian Britain was notorious for its prudery, the nude was nevertheless one of the most conspicuous categories of visual image, from mass-produced photographs to Royal Academy paintings. Representation of the nude figure was one of the most controversial issues of the time. Classical allusion was respectable (being considered artistic) but realism, such as a tinted marble sculpture or a contemporary photographic image was taboo. This exhibition surveys the full range of the Victorian nude, both male and female, in painting, drawing and sculpture, and also in photography, popular illustration and film. It includes works by Etty, Leighton, Millais, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Sargent, Sickert and Gwen John. This exhibition marks the opening of the Centenary Development, which is a catalyst for reinvigoration of the entire gallery, with repainting in rich colours and a complete rehang. The £32m project, designed by John Miller and Su Rodgers as a discrete enhancement, rather than a major architectural statement, provides a new entrance in Atterbury Street, with a lobby and shop, giving way to nine new galleries on two levels. Taken together with areas vacated by the international modernists who moved to Bankside, gallery space has been increased by one third. It is now the world's largest display of British art, with 950 works on show, including a number that are on view for the first time in many years. The rehang also provides a fresh and broadly chronological interpretation of the development of art in Britain from 1500 to the present day, embracing painting, sculpture, photography and caricature. Tate Britain - Exposed until 27th January.

The Lord Mayor's Show procession winds through nearly 800 years of London's history, having survived everything from the black death to the blitz. In the 17th century it skirted the building site that would later become St Paul's Cathedral. In the 20th, it was the first event ever to be broadcast live on television. This year's Show has been 18 months in the planning and will include 6,000 participants, 2,000 military personnel, 200 horses, 220 motor vehicles, 56 floats representing the diverse aspects of life and the unique traditions of the city, 20 marching bands, 18 carriages and the State Coach, with the start marked by a aircraft flypast. It is the largest parade of its kind in the world, with a procession nearly two and a half miles long, though it travels a route of only a mile and three quarters. The show ends at 5.00pm with a firework display in the sky above the city. The route, timings and other information can be found at the Lord Mayor's Show web site via the link opposite. City of London from 11.00am on 10th November.

The Spanish Civil War: Dreams And Nightmares marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of the arrival in Spain of the International Brigades - volunteers from France, Germany, Italy, Britain, America and many other countries. They flocked to support the Republican government in its struggle against the Nationalist forces under General Franco and their German and Italian allies in what has become known as the last romantic war. This exhibition focuses on the personal experiences of soldiers and civilians, and the impact of the war on artists, writers and intellectuals. It includes works by Joan Miro, Henry Moore, Rene Magritte, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Alexander Calder, Edward Burra, Robert Motherwell, Cesar Manrique and W S Hayter; photographs by Robert Capa, David Seymour, Agusti Centelles and Gerda Taro (Capa's girlfriend, who was killed in the Battle of Brunete); and Republican and Nationalist posters. In addition there are International Brigades letters, medals, memorials and ephemera; Spanish artefacts, including a coin salvaged from the ruins of Guernica, a campaign map used by Franco, a shirt worn by a Basque solider who was among those killed, fragments of masonry and a bread ration from the siege of Alcazar; letters sent by George Orwell, John Cornford, Julian Bell and Laurie Lee, and news dispatches written by Ernest Hemingway. Imperial War Museum until 28th April.


Painted Ladies: Women At The Court Of King Charles II returns us to the sexual freedom, loose morals and explosion in artistic creative endeavour of the swingin 60s - that's the 1660s not the 1960s, with painters such as Lely and Samuel Cooper, instead of photographers David Bailey and Terence Donovan. Hard to believe, but even 350 years later, posters reproducing these paintings have caused such a stir that London Transport has banned them. This is a parade of famous and infamous beauties of the Restoration, one of the widest, most licentious and decadent periods of British history. Here are the Royal brides and daughters, but above all mistresses and actresses, in a variety of stylised guises from goddesses to shepherdesses. Many, including (naturally) Nell Gwyn, appear in multiple portraits, such as Barbara Villiers in studies as both Venus and the Virgin Mary holding up the infant Jesus (actually one of the five children she bore the King). National Portrait Gallery until 6th January.

Susan Derges: Natural Magic is the result of a year long examination of both the museum's exhibits and the scientific processes of experimentation by Susan Derges. Art meets science as the apparatus and events are captured in a series of striking digital images. The elements of earth, air, fire and water are literally revealed in a new light. Magic metamorphoses are shown, from grapes turning into alcohol to spawn becoming frogs, on scales from the microscopic upwards. The intention is to look at the nature of scientific curiosity - not only the bare scientific facts, but also the emotional response of the experimenters. Science and scientists are usually depicted as clinical and detached, but these images bring the intuitive and imaginative aspects of the people and processes alive. Museum of the History of Science at the University of Oxford until 15th December.

Doug Aitken: New Ocean is a new installation by the Los Angeles based artist whose works combines film, video, photography and sound. It seems as though even contemporary art is now going down the theme park experience route. As if spurred on by the recent Dan Flavin light sabre exhibition, the gallery has given Aitken the run of the entire building. He has threaded a water related sequence of filmed images, sounds and photographic works throughout the exhibition spaces and beyond to the lantern on the roof. Visitors enter the building by descending to the basement, where a Poseidon Adventure like jumble of pipes and air conditioning ducts sets the tone. They then emerge through a trap door into the main space, from where successive inter-related son et lumiere experiences develop in all directions at once. With material shot both in 'fictional realities' and actual locations as varied as the Arctic and Argentina, it creates visions of the relentless and dehumanising cycle of existence in a modern global society. Serpentine Gallery until 25th November.

Radical Fashion is yet another milestone on the "Culture Lite" road hewn by the V&A. Once again an ephemeral industry, which is already treated more seriously than it deserves, receives the same respect as a genuine art form. On the other hand, given that no one actually wears the stuff that appears on the catwalk in the street (not that couture clients would ever go into the street) the creations could be described as art works, since they have no practical function. Either way, this is a showcase of the work of 11 of the most spectacular and feted frock makers: Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Martin Margiela, Comme des Garcons, Junya Watanabe, Azzendine Alaia, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood and Helmut Lang. Giorgio Armani had to fork out for a 'vanity publishing' retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York earlier this year, but here we roll over for free in the name of 'accessibility'. Which approach most compromises an institution's integrity? The tailor's dozen here have each been given carte blanche to create an installation which describes/comments on/illustrates the creative journey they undertake to produce their particular Emperor's new clothes. Victoria & Albert Museum until 6th January.

Art On The Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780 - 1836 is a recreation of the golden age of British art. Some 300 paintings, watercolours and drawings are hung in period fashion, frame-to-frame and from floor to ceiling, as represented in the famous Rowlandson and Pugin work 'Exhibition Room, Somerset House'. The Royal Academy was founded in 1768, and twelve years later moved into the newly completed Strand block of Somerset House, where its annual exhibitions took place until 1836. Today's display is staged in the recently restored Fine Rooms, designed by Sir William Chambers, centring on the Great Room as it did in the past. Painters competed to secure places for their works as near as possible to the famous Line, a wooden moulding that runs round the walls at the height of the doors. Positions were allocated 'on the Line' itself for the most important pictures, with smaller canvases hung at eye level and lower, and less fortunate works suffering the fate of being 'skied'. Because artists also put their reputations 'on the line' every time they exhibited, the decisions about where the pictures would be hung provoked frequent and heated rows. The works cover portraiture, landscapes, architecture and animals, as captured by Joshua Reynolds (the RA's first president), Constable, Danby, Gainsborough, Russell, Stubbs, Turner and Wilkie. Courtauld Institute Gallery, Somerset House until 20th January.

Langlands & Bell Installation is the first exhibition in the New Artists House designed by Stephen Marshall, which will feature art in a modern domestic environment, and in which artists can stay. Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell specialise in exploring relationships between people and architecture, examining buildings and the way we think about them. This installation combines new pieces with key elements of their past work.

Tim Harrison: New Stone Carvings in the New Gallery explore the fabric of the stone, through cutting, carving and polishing, revealing the geology that lies within it. A feature of Harrison's work is the way that it changes in shape, form and texture as the viewpoint or light source shifts.

The Sculpture Park is a permanent outdoor exhibition of work from 1950 onwards, and is the sole representative of the estate of Barbara Hepworth, with many of her pieces in wood, marble, stone and bronze. Other artists whose works are displayed include Kenneth Armitage, Lynn Chadwick, Antony Gormley and Rachel Whiteread. New Art Centre Sculpture Park & Gallery, Salisbury - both exhibitions until 30th November - park open all year round.


Nigel Henderson: Parallel Of Life And Art features the work of a key figure in post war British art, straddling the worlds of documentary photography and surrealist inspired collage making. It comprises a selection of the photographs taken in the East End of London in the early 1950s, his experimental 'stressed' photographs, and photograms and photocollages. The centrepiece is a recreation of the exhibition held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1953, which Henderson organised with Eduardo Paolozzi, Alison and Peter Smithson, and Ronald Jenkins. This ground breaking display featured photographs culled from a wide variety of sources - science, technology, nature, art and popular culture - which were blown-up and hung on screens and from the ceiling as well as on the walls, creating a 'total environment' in the exhibition space. Gainsborough's House, Sudbury until 25th November.

Isamu Noguchi is the first major British retrospective of the Japanese sculptor, stage designer, landscape architect and furniture designer. Noguchi is possibly best known in the UK for his Akari mulberry paper light sculptures, which inspired the shades that graced a million living rooms in the 1960s. Born in Los Angeles to a Japanese father and American mother, he trained as a cabinet maker in Japan, and then became assistant to sculptor Constantin Brancusi in Paris, before settling in New York. From this background, Noguchi worked throughout his career as an interpreter of the East to the West, moving between art and design, objects and landscapes, figurative and abstract, organic and geometric, and unique and mass produced. Among Noguchi's works were sculptural furniture for Herman Miller and Knoll Associates, gardens for Tokyo University, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, and the national museum in Jerusalem, bridges in Hiroshima, stage designs for choreographers Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham, and collaborations with visionary engineer Buckminster Fuller. Design Museum until 18th November.

Mike Nelson has a newly commissioned work that is installed not only in the galleries, but also in the public spaces of the building. Nelson is renowned for creating large scale environments, jammed with the detritus of modern living, which are theatrical, elaborate and surprising. Here he has built a maze-like structure, designed to transform the existing spaces, and disorientate the visitor. As always Nelson has filled this labyrinth with assorted paraphernalia that he has salvaged, with particular reference to his interest in sci-fi, B-movies and pulp fiction. The experience has the feel of stepping into a drama that has been temporarily suspended, like illicitly walking through a stage set during the interval. Mike Nelson has been shortlisted for this year's Turner Prize. Institute of Contemporary Arts until 11th November.