Showing posts from May, 2009

Baroque: Style in the Age of Magnificence

Rich exhibition at the V&A looking at the art and design of the Baroque seeing it as the first global art movement. It was full of large lush objects with a real sense of the richness of the era although I’m personally not surprised it led to revolution in some areas! It focused on both the religious and secular uses of this style as well as its international nature. I am not sure I had any favorite pieces as it’s not a style I particularly like but I did find it a magnificent exhibition with the pieces beautifully displayed with each one given the space to be seen and to speak for itself. It was however a bit like swimming though melted chocolate with marshmallow being thrown in at intervals. Not an unpleasant experience but it became quite tiring and a little sickly! Reviews Times Daily Telegraph Evening Standard

Hats : an anthology by Stephen Jones

Wonderful exhibition at the V&A curated by Stephen Jones, the milliner. The exhibition is arranged in four main themes, inspiration looks at the sources including historicism, exoticism and the natural world; creation explores the techniques, materials and processes; the salon focuses on the buying and selling of hats and the millinery shop; and the clients which examines the wearing and etiquette of hats and features headgear worn by well known clients. It was a wonderful mix of historical pieces along with current haute couture works mainly by Stephen Jones himself. One flat white, pink and blue feathered hat looked like something from the 1950s but turned out to be an 18th century piece. A lovely touch was to have a bonnet belonging to Queen Victoria alongside one of Prince Albert’s top hats sharing a cabinet with more modern works based in these basic shapes. I think my favorite was “Centre Court” by Stephen Jones. A green disc with white lines across the crown one of whic

Future Fashion Now: New Design from the Royal College of Art

Exhibition at the V&A of highlights from the Royal College of Art (RCA) fashion MA graduates' final collections. The exhibition focused on the design process, research and technical skill. I loved the pieces which used print in new way, There was a lovely blue and white jacket by Adrian Sommerauer, based on an 18th botanic print and a blouse by Heikki Salonen based on an album cover by The Cure. There was also a simple knitted dress by Elizabeth Borglin with a tromp d’oeil zip knitted into the design.

Looking back at Degas

Lecture at the National Gallery to accompany the “ Picasso : Challenging the past ” exhibition given by Elizabeth Cowling, an author of many books in Picasso. The lecture focused on Picasso’s response to a series of monotypes by Degas which he owned. These pictures showed scenes from brothels. Picasso created a collection of series of prints of similar scenes, many including Degas as a voyeur. The lecture analysed all the reasons why Picasso was moved by these works in great and fascinating detail. I remembered seeing the series in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona and did not really understand them however this talk really illuminated the topic.

In the Frame

Talk at the Charleston Festival based on the successful “Picture This” series of talks at Somerset House which asked authors to pick their favourite picture in the Courtauld collection and write a piece about it. At this event Julia Neuberger discussed Camille Pissarro's “Lordship Lane Station, Dulwich” and Colm Tobin mused on Paul Cezanne's inner thoughts as he painted “Route Tournante”. She gave a lovely talk on how she’d worked in the area her picture showed and how the social history behind it whereas Colm Tobin’s talk was an almost poetic analysis of the picture and its themes. The event was chaired at short notice by the author Patrick Gale.

Anish Kapoor at the Brighton Festival

This years Brighton Festival’s guest artistic director was the artist Anish Kapoor. One of the features of the festival was a trail of works of art by Anish throughout the city. I only managed to get to two of the venues but both were stunning. Fabrica, the arts venue in the city centre, has two works on show “1000 names” a series of what looks like piles of pigments in red, yellow and white and “Blood Relations” a work with Salman Rushdie with a rather violent story round the edge of a box lined in red on one side and with rather bloody looking rags in the other. “C-Curve” was a wonderful curve of steel on the South Downs way near the Chattri, a war memorial to the Indian soldiers who dies at the Royal Pavillion hospital in the First World War. It was a long walk up to the C-Curve and I must admit I whinged a lot on the way there (I’m a city girl I don’t do walking!) however it was worth it. The outside edge of the curve reflected you as you walked towards it and placed you in the

The Victorians

Talk by Jeremy Paxman at the Charleston Festival about his recent television series and book on the Victorians. He took the premise that the social history of Victorian England could be studied via the art of the time. He acknowledged that not all the work was great art but that it did reflect the issues of the day. He was a charming speaker although a little scary at the questions session. He gave a real impression of large works of art being the rock and roll of their day.

Follies art auction

Exhibition of the works for sale in the annual auction at Charleston Farmhouse to be held on 11 July at the Quentin Follies event. It’s an exhibition of small pictures donated by artists to raise money to buy pictures which were originally in the house. I fell for a picture of Scotney Castle by Rachel Widdows in lovely shades of blue.

Picasso and Lucas Cranach the Elder

Lecture at the National Gallery to accompany the “ Picasso : Challenging the past ” exhibition given by Picasso’s grand-daughter Diana Widmaier Picasso. This was also the annual Felicity Meshoulam lecture and there was a packed auditorium. The talk centred on works done by Picasso in later life inspired by Cranach the Elder in particular “David and Bathsheba” and a portrait of a woman. In Bathsheba Picasso identifies with David the voyeur which tied with the next lecture in the series on Degas. (Watch this space!) It felt like touching history to hear Picasso’s grand-daughter speak, and incidentally to know that her moth, his daughter, was in the audience however the talk was a little muddled and inconclusive.

Study day : Love and Marriage in Renaissance Florence

Really well put together study day at the Courtauld Institute to accompany the current exhibition on Renaissance Cassoni . The day began with the curator of the exhibition Caroline Campbell talking about the place of Cassoni in 15th century Florence. She talked about who produced them, what their role was in a household and why the narratives were chosen. Next was Evelyn Welch, Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary College, who looked at what was kept in the chests. This was a fun talk and I learnt about the importance of scatter cushions in the Medici household! Another serious but fun talk next Dilwyn Know, Reader in Renaissance Studies at University College, talked about Alberti’s book Delia Famiglia in which he laid out the roles of men and women in Renaissance marriages. Finally after lunch was Jan Everson, Professor of Italian Literature at Royal Holloway College, who looked at Italian love poetry and how it showed ideas of ideal, real and diverting love in the peri

Greater London

Wonderful exhibition of photographs of London by Richard Bryant at Somerset House . These were huge prints of photos of London which gave it a magnificent grandeur while also concentrating on small details. My favourite was a still life of the interior of Dennis Severs House which looked like a trompe D’oeil picture from the 18th century. I also loved a river scene of a view from Canary Wharf so big and with such details that you could look in the windows of the office blocks in the fore ground and see the people and furniture in them.

Design drawings from the High Renaissance

Small exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery of design drawings from the Italian High Renaissance to accompany the “Love and Marriage in Renaissance Florence” exhibition. The exhibition included designs for tapestry, silverware, architecture, ceramics and furniture. My favourite was a design for a tureen by Guilio Romano with a fantastic goat’s bottom!

Love and Marriage in Renaissance Florence

Lovely small exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery of Renaissance wedding chests. Concentrating on their own two gems the chests commissioned by Lorenzo Morelli to celebrate his marriage with Vaggia Nerli. These not only have their accompanying back boards which were placed over the bed but also the documents commissioning them. The exhibition also looked the practice and role of marriage in Florence at this time. One wonderful chest actually showed wedding chests in use. My favorite though were the ones of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. This reminded me of a miniature version of the Magi chapel in Florence by Gozzoli. It was full of life and rich materials, a real show of wealth. Reviews Guardian Evening Standard

Picasso: Challenging the Past – study morning

Study morning at the National Gallery to accompany the “ Picasso : Challenging the past ” exhibition. The morning consisted of three talks beginning with Christopher Riopelle one of the co-curators of the exhibition. He talked about what the exhibition is trying to show by examining the first room of self-portraits in detail. I’d not realised from going round the exhibition that each themed room works chronologically clockwise to help you see the themes of time as well as subject. Next came Kathleen Adler, former Direct of Education at the National Gallery looking at the role of classical themes in Picasso’s work both traditional ones such as sculpture and the more thematic such as the Mediterranean. Finally was Alex Danchev, author of “Picasso Furioso” which aimed to examine roots of the reasons he sought to challenge the past. The question and answer session at the end was one of the best I’d heard as not only were the audience questions good but the speakers seemed genuinely in

James Ravilious: An English Eye

Exhibition of photographs by James Ravilious at the National Theatre . These photographs depict rural life in North Devon covering the countryside and the people who work in it. They have a real insight into a way of life. The exhibition marks the 10th anniversary of the artists death. Reviews Guardian


Exhibition at the National Theatre of works on the theme of cabaret by Roxana Halls . These were large square canvases of wonderful portraits of cabaret artists giving a view of an evening’s variety performance from beginning to end. The works were inspired by time she spent living in Berlin and her studio which was based in the Saloon bar of an empty 1930s theatre in London. Alongside the paintings were photographs by Matthew Tugwell of the items and people in the pictures in the artists studio. These pictures had a sort of poignant calm. Although mid performance they catch a moment of stillness and invite you to look long and hard at the people in them.