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Exhibition Review – Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde at the Barbican Art Gallery from 10 October 2018 to Sunday 27 January 2019

Barbican Art Gallery presents Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde: the first exhibition to explore the creative output resulting from the exclusive or polyamorous relationships between artist couples in the first half of the 20th Century.

The exhibition includes the work of painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, designers, poets, writers, musicians, dancers and performers. Underlying the exhibition is the history of modern art often defines artists as a solitary genius. Modern Couples suggest that it is often the relationships between creative individuals that are important to understand how artists reshape art, redefine gender stereotypes and create new ways of working and living together.

The exhibition features around 30 principal artist couples, with exhibits drawn from public and private collections in Europe, North America and Russia. Some of the couples featured are Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin; Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera; Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky; Varvara Stepanova and Alexander Rodchenko; Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West; Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici; Lee Miller and Man Ray; Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson; Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso.

It quickly become obvious as you walk through the exhibition that the relationships between the various couples are often complex depending on a number of factors. Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin; Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson and Frida Kahlo with Diego Rivera illustrate that often within couples there are two artists both trying to make their own names in the art world.

Other relationships are complicated by a complex network of interactions, the Bloomsbury set included Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, Leonard Woolf and Virginia Woolf. The marriages and complicated affairs among the individual members of the group led to a number of artistic collaborations.

Often relationships could be abusive like famous couples, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera; Dora Maar with Pablo Picasso and Lee Miller’s relationship with Man Ray.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is the inclusion of Kahlo’s powerful and rarely seen painting The Wounded Deer (1946).

The exhibition also reveals some lesser-known aspects of famous artists’ works, Gustav Klimt’s relationship with Emilie Flöge had mutual benefits. Flöge who ran her own couture house, the Schwestern Flöge in Vienna and the exhibition features Klimt’s photographs of Flöge modelling her dresses. ‘Simultaneism’ developed in tandem by Sonia Delaunay and Robert Delaunay and Aino Aalto and Alvar Aalto developed Artek, a design company and showroom they opened in Helsinki in 1935.

This fascinating exhibition provides plenty of evidence that relationships are often at the centre of the creative process in all their complexity. It also illustrates that often artists are seen by wider society as bohemians which often allows them transgressing the constraints of their time forging new ways of living and loving. However there is often a dark side to this ‘freedom’, although many of the relationships had positive mutual benefits, a number of these relationships ended with tragic consequences.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets , visit the Barbican website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Exhibition Review – Vanessa Winship: And Time Folds at the Barbican Art Gallery from 22nd June to 2nd September 2018

The Barbican Art Gallery present the first major UK solo exhibition of British contemporary photographer Vanessa Winship. The acclaimed photographer was the recipient of the prestigious Henri Cartier-Bresson Award in 2011 and this exhibition features over 150 photographs by Winship, many of which have never been seen before in the UK, as well as a collection of unseen archival material.

Vanessa Winship lived and worked in the region of the Balkans, Turkey and the Caucasus for more than a decade exploring  ideas around concepts of borders, land, memory, identity and history.

Her two major series Imagined States and Desires: A Balkan Journey (1999–2003) and Black Sea: Between Chronicle and Fiction (2002–2006) explored some of her concepts on the frontiers of Eastern Europe. Many of these areas were coming to terms with the fall of the communist states and conflicts alongside ethnic and political lines. Winship often shows that these major transitions have a considerable impact on individual’s identity and their relationship with the local landscapes.  

Another series, Sweet Nothings (2007) show portraits of school girls from Turkey, Winship’s formal portraits draws the attention to the the affectionate messages or ‘sweet nothings’ which are embroidered on their lace collar or bodice of their uniforms.

Winship’s award of Henri Cartier-Bresson Award in 2011 which enabled her to undertake a new photographic series in the United States. She dances on Jackson (2011–2012) is a series photographs made at the time of economic recession and decline of many  American industries. In similar ways to the Balkan series, these pictures show how individuals come with economic and political decline.

A similar theme is illustrated in the series Humber (2010) in which the photographer explores the area close to where she was born.

Winship goes back to Eastern Europe with her series Georgia: Seeds Carried by the Wind (2008–2010), Winship finds a country where the people are struggling to come to terms with the post-Soviet economic collapse.

To coincide with the exhibition, Winship has conceived a new photographic series, And Time Folds (2014-ongoing) which includes a number of objects and represent something of a departure from previous series.

This interesting and thought provoking exhibition explores the often the fragile nature of individual’s relationships with their landscape and wider society. Winship illustrates how much we are tied to our collective and individual histories and how conflict and ideological changes can lead to severe strains on our identities.

Vanessa Winship: And Time Folds runs at the same time as the Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing exhibition.  

A ticket gains entry to both exhibitions.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information , visit the Barbican website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
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Exhibition Review – Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing at the Barbican Art Gallery from 22nd June to 2nd September 2018


The Barbican Art Gallery presents the first UK survey of the American documentary photographer Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) who is considered one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.

The exhibition features over 300 objects from vintage prints and original book publications to ephemera, field notes, letters, and documentary film and is largely chronological spanning from 1919 to 1957.

The exhibition begins with some of Lange’s little known early portrait photographs taken during her time running a portrait studio in San Francisco between 1919 and 1935. Lange was a well-known member of San Francisco’s creative community in this period and friends included Edward Weston, Anne Brigman, Alma Lavenson, Imogen Cunningham, and Willard van Dyke.

Most of Lange’s work at this time was portraits of wealthy West Coast families, however the Great Depression in the early 1930s began to signal a shift in her photographic approach moving from the studio into the streets to take pictures of street demonstrations, unemployed workers, and breadline queues.

Lange’s began to work with the newly established historical division of the Farm Security Administration (FSA), the government agency tasked with the promotion of Roosevelt’s New Deal programme. Lange began to document living conditions across America during the Great Depression, she highlighted the plight of homeless families on the road in search of better livelihoods in the West; and the terrible conditions of migrant workers and camps across California. Lange began to see the possibilities that her photographs were a record of injustice, inequality, migration and displacement, and highlight the need for government relief.

Lange is best known for the iconic Migrant Mother, a photograph that became a symbol of the Great Depression. However the exhibition illustrates the range of work with a series on sharecroppers in the Deep South that highlights relations of race and power, photographs featuring architecture and landscapes, the influence of Lange’s FSA photographs on authors including John Steinbeck who wrote the famous Great Depression novel The Grapes of Wrath. Lange also worked  with her second husband Paul Schuster Taylor to produce the photo book An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion in 1939.  

The exhibition features Lange’s rarely seen photographs of the internment of more than 100,000 American citizens of Japanese descent following the Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in 1941. This important series of  photographs remained unpublished during the war and were stored at the National Archives in Washington. It is the first time that this series is shown comprehensively outside of the US and Canada.

Equally important is Lange’s photographic series of the wartime shipyards of Richmond, California with friend and fellow photographer Ansel Adams (1902–1984). Lange and Adams documented the war effort in the shipyards for Fortune magazine in 1944 recording the female and black workers who played an increasing important role in the wartime workforce.

After the war, Lange worked on Public Defender (1955–1957) which explores the US legal defence system for the poor and disadvantaged through the work of a public defender at the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland. Death of a Valley (1956–57), documents the disappearance of the small rural town of Monticello in California’s Berryessa Valley as a consequence of the damming of the Putah Creek and Ireland (1954) in which Lange captures the traditional life of Irish rural communities.

This fascinating comprehensive exhibition provides plenty of evidence that Dorothea Lange’s range of work has often been overlooked. Her fame was made with the iconic Migrant Mother, however this exhibition illustrates that her other series of photographs documented many important aspects of America history in the first half of the 20th century. This exhibition is a rare opportunity for visitors to see a comprehensive survey of one of the great American photographers of the 20th century.

The exhibition Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing is on at the same time as Vanessa Winship: And Time Folds. A ticket gains entry to both exhibitions.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information , visit the Barbican website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

Exhibition Review – Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins at the Barbican Art Gallery from 28th February to 27th May 2018

The Barbican Art Gallery presents an exhibition entitled Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins which examines how photographers have engaged with those on the margins of society.  

The exhibition features the work of 20 photographers including Bruce Davidson, Paz Errázuriz, Larry Clark, Mary Ellen Mark, Boris Mikhailov, Daido Moriyama and Dayanita Singh. Over 300 works from the 1950s to the present are on show, the exhibition includes vintage and contemporary prints, archival material, specialist magazines, rare film and photo books. 

The exhibition begins by showcasing two of the United States most famous photographers, Diana Arbus and Bruce Davidson. The Bruce Davidson’s series The Dwarf and Brooklyn Gang was taken in the late 1950s in New Jersey and Coney Island; and was only recently discovered at a Manhattan flea market.

Two celebrated Japanese photographers, Daido Moriyama and Seiji Kurata explore some of the seedy and hidden aspects of the notorious Ikebukuro and Shinjuku districts of Tokyo. 

The little known works of Russian photographer Igor Palmin entitled The Enchanted Wanderer (1977) and The Disquiet (1977), features Soviet Hippies in desolate landscapes. Other counterculture movements are recorded by Philippe Chancel, Walter Pfeiffer and Chris Steele-Perkins who charts the rise of the Teddy Boys in 1970s Britain.

Moving to the higher level of the gallery, Alec Soth’s Broken Manuel (2006–10) documents those who turn their back on society, his images of monks, survivalists, hermits and runaways in America provide an alternative narrative to the mainstream.

Some of the most remarkable images in the exhibition are the series called The Hyena and Other Men (2005–2007) by South African photographer Pieter Hugo of a group of urban nomads from Nigeria.

One of the most poignant parts of the exhibition is the film by Indian photographer Dayanita Singh who formed a long term friendship with Mona Ahmed, a eunuch from New Delhi who lived much of her life in a cemetery.

The series of photographs, Adam’s Apple (1982-87), by Chilean photographer Paz Errázuriz of a community of transgender sex-workers working in an underground brothel in Chile in the 1980s underlines the point that living on the margins is often a dangerous place to be with persecution and brutality commonplace.  

This intriguing exhibition explores the often diverse and complex relationship between the artist and disenfranchised communities. By their very nature, these communities are wary of outsiders and photographers often have to earn the communities trust before they are accepted. Many of the photographers in Another Kind of Life needed to follow this process to create their own distinctive take on countercultures, subcultures and minorities of all kinds. In many ways this benefits the photographer who avoids accusations of exploitation and is considered to be presenting an authentic representation of disenfranchised communities.

Video Review available here 

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information , visit the Barbican website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

 

Exhibition Review – Yto Barrada: Agadir at the Barbican from 7th February to 20th May 2018

The Barbican Art Gallery presents artist Yto Barrada’s first solo exhibition in a public gallery in London. For this new commission, Barrada uses the large space of the Curve gallery to create a site-specific installation that includes a mural, a new film commission, several sculptures, and a series of live and recorded performances.

The underlying theme of the installation is the complex interaction of a city and its people. Barrada takes as her starting point the hybrid novel-play by Moroccan writer Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine , Agadir  (1967) which reflects on the devastating earthquake that destroyed much of the city of Agadir, Morocco, in 1960.

Agadir was written following a mission instigated by the government of King Mohammed V to assess the devastation and reformation of the city. Barrada uses the story to create narratives that actors recreate in the space to give voice to some of rising tensions of a society facing the ruins of the city and the often fragmented political and religious power and social relationships.

A large monochrome mural along the length of the gallery’s outer wall includes sketches of the architecture of Agadir beginning before the earthquake and continuing with the buildings constructed following the disaster.

Throughout the installation are sculptures often made using traditional Moroccan wicker weaving techniques. There are also a series of wicker chairs arranged in such a way that they represent people interacting in a variety of ways.

A film towards the end of the installation includes people talking about the earthquake and includes extracts from Et maintenant Agadir, 1960.  

This unusual and thought-provoking free exhibition illustrates some of the issues when a city and its population is faced with a disaster. Quite often people’s identity is tied up with the fabric of where they live and when disaster strikes, it can be a physical and psychological shock. Although places like Agadir can be rebuilt, it can take longer for its people to come to terms with their new surroundings which are often recreated without any consultation with the local population. Ironically, these themes also apply to the Barbican which has its own history of post-war destruction and was rebuilt with utopian ideals but has had many critics and detractors.

Video Review available here

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information , visit the Barbican website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

Exhibition Review – The Vulgar : Fashion Redefined at the Barbican from 13th October 2016 to 5th February 2017

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The Barbican Art Gallery present The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined which is an exhibition which questions notions of vulgarity in fashion. The exhibition features over 120 exhibits from the Renaissance through to the 21st century, loaned from major public and private collections worldwide, with contributions from leading modern and contemporary designers such as Walter van Beirendonck, Chloé, Christian Dior, Pam Hogg, Christian Lacroix, Jeanne Lanvin, Moschino, Miuccia Prada, Elsa Schiaparelli, Philip Treacy, Undercover, Viktor & Rolf, Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood.

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The theme of the exhibition takes the literary definitions of ‘the vulgar’ as a starting point and illustrate though historic dress, couture and ready-to-wear fashion, textile ornamentation, manuscripts, photography and film that vulgar is a concept that often changes over time and fashion designers often use the concept to shock and titillate.

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The word vulgar is taken from the Latin vulgare which means to make public and common. Gradually the meaning began to be used in relation to good and bad taste and a way for elites to differentiate themselves from everyone else. Clothes and fashion were used in this process from the earliest times and exhibition explores how extravagance, ostentation and exhibitionism began to be the vehicle for social advancement, on display is a pair of 18th century mantuas, with overskirts of nearly 2.5 metres in width.

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The history of fashion is often related to the way that clothes may cover or expose different parts of the body. The exhibition explores this theme with pieces by Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s and Belgian avant-garde designer Walter van Beirendonck’s with his elephant skirt outfit with Stephen Jones’ oversized hat.

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Another theme of the exhibition is the way that fashion sometimes uses the vulgar and commonplace to accentuate exclusiveness. A Chanel fashion show in a shopping centre is recreated.

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The concept of vulgar is not an easy one to pin down, wealth can good yet vulgar. Clothes made with materials such as gold, velvet, pearls and spangles are often determined vulgar. When people began to become wealthy outside of narrow elites, good taste is determined by having ‘class’ which even ‘vulgar’ people with wealth cannot attain.As the exhibition suggests the popularisation and commerce aspects of fashion can be seen as inherently vulgar especially when it is perceived to be too popular, excessive, kitsch or camp.

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Curators, Judith Clark and Adam Phillips have created a highly original and entertaining exhibition about fashion past and present. Using the concept of vulgar explores some of the different themes and contradictions of the fashion world. Exclusiveness is often the starting point of many designers to appeal to wealthy patrons, other designers want to play with concepts of good and bad taste to appeal to a wider market.

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Fashion with its relationship with commerce is often not taken seriously as a creative art because it is tainted with accusations of vulgarity trying to appeal to the common people. In many ways, this exhibition questions this simplistic view illustrating that it has often been used to differentiate between the classes and provided a vehicle for groups to consider themselves of good taste and not ‘vulgar’.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Ticket information : Standard: £14.50/ Concessions (OAP and unemployed): £12/ Students/14-17: £10 

If you would like further information or book tickets, visit the Barbican website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
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Exhibition Review : Ragnar Kjartansson at the Barbican Art Gallery – 14th July to 4th September 2016

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The Barbican Art Gallery presents the first ever UK survey of  the work of the internationally acclaimed Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. The exhibition explores the wide range of Kjartansson’s work and brings together a variety of influences including film, music, literature, opera music and contemporary pop culture.

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The first part of the exhibition is a recreation of the acclaimed Take me here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage (2014) , 10 male guitarists in various poses are spread throughout the lower gallery, singing and strumming their guitars against a projected soft focus love scene acted by Kjartansson’s parents. Kjartansson creates a bohemian 70s scene that is based on when his parents met when actors working on a film.

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Also on the lower gallery is Kjartansson’s celebrated video installation, The Visitors (2012) which comprises of a series of nine life-size video tableaux of a musical performance staged at historic Rokeby Farm in Upstate New York, shot in one take, each musician was recorded in a separate room of the home or on the grounds of Rokeby, singing the same refrain ‘once again I fall into my feminine ways’ for just over an hour.

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Moving upstairs in the gallery is more video installations that explore Icelandic life and many feature Kjartansson in a variety of roles from foot soldier to a Hollywood crooner.

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For the first time in the UK, Kjartansson’s series of 144 paintings, The End (2009), made over a 6-month period during the Venice Biennale, are on display. Kjartansson paints the portrait of the same young model, day after day, drinking and smoking which once again blurs the distinction between real life and art.

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Whilst best known for his video installations, drawing and painting are an essential part of Kjartansson’s work practice and the exhibition includes a selection of his sketchbooks and watercolour paintings.

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It is perhaps because Ragnar Kjartansson background is in the theatre that make his performances, video installations and paintings seem like mini dramas where humour often provides a release from the mundane aspects of real life. His storytelling takes him into unusual territories illustrated by a new work entitled Second Movement (2016) which features two women in Edwardian costume rowing a boat and embracing in a never-ending kiss that will take place on the Barbican Lakeside every Saturday and Sunday, between 1–4pm, weather permitting.

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This interesting and entertaining exhibition allows visitors to enter the often bizarre and mundane world of Ragnar Kjartansson. It is these extremes that seem to reflect the artist’s personality who is happy to create scenes from other times and places. Whilst Ragnar Kjartansson may not widely known in the UK, this exhibition will provide an opportunity for visitors to consider his often humorous and offbeat view of the world.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Tickets

Standard: £12

Concessions: £10

Students/14-17: £8

If you would like further information or book tickets, visit the Barbican website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here