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Exhibition Review – New Acquisitions: Gozzoli to Kara Walker at the British Museum from 4 October 2018 to 27 January 2019

The British Museum presents a new exhibition which displays some of the most important prints and drawings the Museum has acquired over the past 5 years.

These include rare artworks from its collection by some of the world’s most famous artists, including David Hockney, Bridget Riley, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Jeremy Deller, Raphael, Edgar Degas and Phyllida Barlow.

In the exhibition is around 150 artworks which are a selection from the 3000 graphic works that the British Museum has added into its prints and drawings collection since 2013. These works highlights spans six centuries with the oldest work on show is by the Renaissance master Benozzo Gozzoli from around 1460, and the newest is Kara Walker’s 2017 monumental print Resurrection Story with Patrons, which depicts a giant statue of a black woman being erected.

Highlights of the exhibition are the British Museum’s first ever drawing by Andy Warhol, which depicts a study of a theatre set he designed in New York in 1959.

The exhibition will also show the Museum’s first ever work by Phyllida Barlow, which is a study for one of the sculptures in her British pavilion installation at the 2017 Venice Biennale.

Visitors will also be able to see five prints from one of Pablo Picasso’s greatest-ever graphic works. Suite 347 is a series of 347 etchings made in 1968 which show the remakable invention and ingenuity of the octogenarian artist.

The British Museum is the only UK museum to have a complete set, they are seen alongside a Picasso linocut and aquatint.

Many of the works, including those by Bridget Riley and Georg Baselitz, have been donated by the artists themselves or their families and estates,

This fascinating free exhibition provides an eclectic mixture of old and new classics which will delight visitors before the works are stored away or used for later exhibitions.

Visiting London Guide Rating –  Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the British Museum website here

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Exhibition Review – The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy from 12th June to 19th August 2018

The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition is the world’s longest running annual exhibition of contemporary art and has been held each year without interruption since 1769. To celebrate the 250th anniversary, the Royal Academy presents a special exhibition that will run alongside the 2018 Summer Exhibition, The Great Spectacle tells the story of the annual show by featuring highlights from the past 250 years.

The exhibition features over 80 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints from the first Summer Exhibition through to the present day by artists such as Sir Joshua Reynolds, Angelica Kauffman, Elizabeth Butler, Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Lawrence, John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, John Everett Millais, Sir Frederic Leighton, John Singer Sargent, Peter Blake, Tracey Emin, Zaha Hadid, Sir Michael Craig-Martin, David Hockney and Wolfgang Tillmans, amongst others.

The exhibition begins with William Powell Frith’s, A Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881 exhibited in 1883, which depicts the characteristic hang of the Summer Exhibition with the familiar crowded arrangement of pictures.

The Summer Exhibition has since 1769 played an important role within London’s art world by allowing artists and architects to showcase their talents and compete with their rivals for the popular and critical acclaim.

The Great Spectacle exhibition is arranged in chronological sections: A Georgian Parade; The Rise of Genre Painting; The Triumph of Landscape; The Pre-Raphaelites Arrive; Victorian Acclaim; Dealing with the Modern; Exhibiting Architecture; Post-War Visions and New Sensations to allow visitors to take a journey through British art.

As you wander through the small intimate rooms, the story begins to unfold. Works from Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough vie for your attention as they would have done in the 18th century. 

Works from John Constable and Turner provide evidence of another golden age for British painting in the 19th century. 

The Victorians were great supporters of the Summer Exhibition which they attended in their thousands, John Everett Millais was a general favourite with the crowds.

Rodin’s The Age of Bronze provides a glimpse into the future with works by John Singer Sargent and Laura Knight providing some sense of the period at the start of the 20th century. 

Sir Winston Churchill’s Winter Sunshine, Chartwell was submitted in 1947 under the pseudonym David Winter and Pietro Annigoni’s Queen Elizabeth II attracted huge crowds when exhibited in 1955.

Peter Blake bought a sense of the 1960s which led the rise of Brit Art and artists who created works like Tracey Emin’s There’s a Lot of Money in Chairs exhibited in 2001 and Michael Craig-Martin’s Reconstructing Seurat (Orange exhibited in 2007. 

The intriguing Great Spectacle exhibition provides visitors with plenty of evidence that the Summer Exhibition is often an uneasy balance of the traditional and the new. Although we would consider Constable and Turner as traditional painters, in their day they were considered radical.

Over the period of 250 years, it is safe to say that some periods are more exciting than others but that is often seen in hindsight. People have attended the Summer Exhibition because they wanted to be amused and surprised by contemporary art. This is perhaps one constant that has changed little over the last 250 years of the exhibition.   

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the Royal Academy 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.
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Exhibition Review : The 250th Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy – 12th June to 19th August 2018

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is one of the great English Art traditions, it is the world’s oldest open-submission exhibition being established in 1768 whose long line of exhibitors reads like a Who’s Who of British Art. Some of the earliest exhibitors included the likes of Reynolds, Constable and Turner, however the exhibition prides itself that it offers a snapshot of contemporary art.

This year, the Royal Academy celebrates its 250th Summer Exhibition, and to mark this momentous occasion, the exhibition is co-ordinated by Grayson Perry RA.  Perry, alongside the Summer Exhibition Committee, celebrate the democracy of the world’s largest open submission contemporary art show by exhibiting a range of art being made in this moment in time with the theme of ‘Art Made Now’.  For the first time, the Summer Exhibition spreads across the new RA and the streets of Bond Street, Piccadilly, Regent Street and Regent Street St. James’s with Royal Academicians Rose Wylie, Grayson Perry, Cornelia Parker and Joe Tilson decorating the streets with an installation of over 200 flags.

Some of the highlights of the exhibition include the Anish Kapoor’s monumental sculpture Symphony for a Beloved Daughter, which is installed in the Royal Academy’s Annenberg Courtyard.

In the Main Galleries, David Hockney shows two vast new works which combine photographs taken from many view-points into a single monumental image. 

The Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos show an enormous textile body Royal Valkyrie in the Central Hall.

Further artists exhibiting include Mona Hatoum, Antony Gormley, Michael Landy, Richard Long, Bob and Roberta Smith, Wolfgang Tillmans, Jane and Louise Wilson, Bruce Nauman and Ed Ruscha.

Piers Gough curates the Architecture Gallery which features models of varying sizes and mediums.

This year, the exhibition features over 1,300 works on show, unlike many major exhibitions, many of the works in the exhibition will be on sale.

Each room offers a kaleidoscope of colour and images in a range of media, from painting, printmaking, film and photography to sculpture, architectural works and performance art.

The Summer Exhibition offers a platform for emerging and established artists and architects to showcase their work in front of a large international audience. The Summer Exhibition also plays a practical role in training young artists, it raises funds to finance the current students of the RA Schools. The RA Schools is the longest established art school in the UK and offers the only free three-year postgraduate programme in Europe.

This fascinating exhibition has a large number of wonderfully eclectic works on display, there is really something for everyone regardless of your particular artistic taste. The Summer Exhibition is one of the highlights of the art world’s summer and attracts a wide range of visitors. It also offers a rare opportunity to buy works from well-known and not so well-known artists with prices ranging from a few hundred to over a hundred thousand pounds.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the Royal Academy 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 : Queer British Art 1861–1967 at Tate Britain from 5th April to 1st October 2017

Tate Britain presents the first exhibition dedicated to queer British art. The exhibition explores material that relates to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ+) identities. The show marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales, It presents work from the abolition of the death penalty for sodomy in 1861 to the passing of the Sexual Offences Act in 1967.

Themes within the exhibition illustrate the ways that artists found a diversity of approaches to present a wide range of sexual desires, experiences and sense of identity.

The first room provides evidence that despite Victorian strict morals, artists began to use themes from Renaissance Italy and Ancient Greece to portray same sex desires. Simeon Solomon’s Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene 1864, Frederic Leighton’s male nudes and Evelyn De Morgan’s depictions of Jane Hales all used classical mythology to explore modern desires. The Pre-Raphaelites in particular enjoyed producing work that defied convention and living bohemian lifestyles.

If the death penalty for sodomy was abolished in 1861, it was still punishable by imprisonment. One of the most famous cases was that of Oscar Wilde in 1895, his portrait hangs next to the door from his prison cell. Charles Buchel’s portrait of Radclyffe Hall and erotic drawings by Aubrey Beardsley highlight that artists careers could be ruined by charges of obscenity and public indecency.

The room entitled Theatrical Types explores one area where gender identities were often intentionally blurred for entertainment. Music hall male and female impersonation acts were very popular and comedy played a part in exploring different identities. Examples on display include photographs of performers such as Beatrix Lehmann, Berto Pasuka and Robert Helpmann by Angus McBean, alongside stage designs by Oliver Messel and Edward Burra.

In a similar way to the Pre-Raphaelites, the Bloomsbury set delighted in defying convention and entered into a complex network of relationships. The section on the Bloomsbury set and their contemporaries provides intimate paintings of lovers, scenes of the homes artists shared with their partners and large paintings by Duncan Grant and Ethel Walker.

Women in particular began to question their determined role in society and artist’s such as Laura Knight, Vita Sackville- West and Claude Cahun began to produce work that challenged contemporary norms.

London in particular was a magnet for those who wished to live alternative lifestyles. In the 1950s and 1960s, Soho was considered the centre of ‘queer culture’ and attracted artists such as Francis Bacon, John Craxton and Keith Vaughan.

Gradually through the sixties, attitudes began to change which led to the passing of the Sexual Offences Act in 1967 and artists like Bacon and David Hockney began to push the boundaries of what could be depicted in art.

This fascinating exhibition charts the period when the terms ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘bisexual’ and ‘trans’ had little public recognition. However the restrictive environment did lead to artists finding ways to express taboo subjects or live unconventional lifestyles. But these artists often walked a fine line and many suffered public humiliation and ruined careers for transgressing the perceived social norms. Even as late as the 1960s, Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell are sent to jail for the relatively trivial offence of defacing library books.

Queer British Art 1861–1967 at Tate Britain runs from 5th April to 1st October 2017

Our Video review available here

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Tate Britain 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 – Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends at the National Portrait Gallery from 23rd March to 18th June 2017

The National Portrait Gallery presents Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends which explores the late British artist’s unique approach to portraiture. The exhibition features over 50 works from collections around the world and dating from 1949 to the present, the exhibition illustrates the development of Hodgkin’s portraits which examines what constitutes a portrait and explores key themes within  Hodgkin’s work including colour, memory, emotion, process and imagination.

Although not widely known, Hodgkin was considered one of Britain’s leading artists, winning the Turner Prize in 1985, the year after representing Great Britain at the Venice Biennale.

Whilst on the surface, Hodgkin’s work seems abstract, the artist is concerned with evoking specific individuals in particular situations. Fellow artists, Peter Blake, Stephen Buckley, Patrick Caulfield, David Hockney, Philip King, R.B.Kitaj and Richard Smith are some of Hodgkin’s friends and colleagues who are featured in the exhibition.

Exhibited for the first time are some early drawings from Hodgkin’s private collection including fellow student, Blondie, his landlady Miss Spackman and Two Women at a Table.

In the 1980’s, the artist began to experiment with a series of self-portraits including Self Portrait (1983), the Spectator and Portrait of the Artist ( both 1984 -7).

Many of the portraits are brightly coloured abstract paintings which provide some insight into the personality and the situation that captured Hodgkin’s imagination. With his use of colour and imagination it can be presumed that most of these situations were positive and full of humour and warmth. If in some way Hodgkin’s art can be seen as providing memorials for people, many of whom were friends, they are a fitting tribute.

The same might be said of a recently completed self-portrait by the late artist that is on public display for the first time in the exhibition. Portrait of the Artist Listening to Music was completed by Hodgkin in late 2016 with the National Portrait Gallery exhibition in mind. The large oil on wood painting is Hodgkin’s last major painting, and evokes a deeply personal situation in which the act of remembering is memorialised in paint.

If artist’s recent death may have cast a dark shadow over the exhibition, this was soon dispelled by the warmth and vitality of the paintings. Hodgkin’s portraits are more concerned with memories and emotions rather than physical representations and provide a fitting tribute to the absent friends and the late artist.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

To find out more about the exhibition, visit the National Portrait Gallery website here.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and the latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 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 : David Hockney at Tate Britain – 9th February to 29th May 2017

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Tate Britain presents an exhibition that is the most extensive retrospective of the work of David Hockney. Hockney is considered one of Britain’s greatest living artists and this exhibition explores the artist’s achievements in painting, drawing, photography and video.

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The exhibition begins with a room that illustrates Hockney’s remarkable ability to use different perspectives to create an illusion of reality that challenges the viewer to question some of their assumptions. In the exhibition, it soon becomes apparent that Hockney from his early works introduces an element of parody and humour to question the conventions of pictures and picture making.

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In the room entitled Demonstrations of Versatility, Hockney displays his ability to play around with different styles and subject matter. The free flowing Love paintings of the early sixties are followed by a more focused Domestic Scenes where the relationship between couples featured in the paintings is often left ambiguous.

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It was in the mid sixties when Hockney first visited Los Angeles and was fascinated by the architecture, geometry, light and people of the city. A series of paintings illustrate some of these themes including the well known images of LA Swimming pools.

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In the late sixties, early seventies, Hockney returned to more domestic scenes with a number of double portraits including two of his most famous works, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy (1970-71) and Portrait of an Artist ( Pool with Two Figures).

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During the eighties and nineties, Hockney experimented with photography and collages to find pictures that could accommodate different perspectives. Many of the paintings at this time followed similar themes but more in relation to landscapes.

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The idea of place becomes increasingly important for Hockney in the late nineties when he produced  a series of paintings that reflected the landscapes of Yorkshire and Hollywood.

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In the 21st century, Hockney experiments with new media with a multi-screen video work called the Four Seasons and his paintings and drawings created on a iPad.

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This fascinating and entertaining exhibition provides plenty of evidence of Hockney’s impact on post-war art. With his wit and humour, Hockney’s work has found its way into popular culture and been endlessly the source of inspiration for different generations of artists. In many ways , his art is typically British with its use of parody and self-deprecation but manages to have a universal appeal with his use of colour, light and engaging subject matter.   

Following its presentation in London the exhibition, organised in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou and The Metropolitan Museum, will tour internationally to Paris and New York.

Our Video review available here

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Tate Britain 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 : Portrait of the Artist at The Queen’s Gallery – 4th November 2016 to 17th April 2017

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This exhibition entitled Portrait of the Artist is the first  to focus on the images of artists from within the Royal Collection.  Self-portraits by world-renowned artists including Rembrandt, Rubens, Artemisia Gentileschi, Lucian Freud and David Hockney but also includes images of artists by their friends, fellow artists and pupils. One of the highlights of the exhibition is the most reliable surviving likeness of Leonardo da Vinci by his student, Francesco Melzi.

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Portrait of the Artist contains over 300 objects, including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and decorative arts ranging in date from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century.

The exhibition provides evidence that images of artists increasingly appear from the fifteenth century onwards and was linked how artists were perceived in society during the Renaissance. Rather than being perceived as a talented craftsman, artists began to see self-portraiture as a way to demonstrate their talents and a way for self-promotion.

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The first objects in the exhibition consider how self-portraits and portraits of the artist family  and friends were crucial for the artist to practice their skills. Often this drawings were not intended to be seen by a wide audience and were often given away.  Self portraits in this section by Rubens, David Hockney and Lucien Freud illustrate how these informal drawings can often expose characteristics of the artists that are not exposed in a formal painting. 

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From these drawings, artist would sometimes undertake a full self-portrait painting to show to potential patrons or customers. How artists portrayed themselves was crucial to appeal to a specific audience. One of the first celebrity British artists was Joshua Reynolds who quickly understood the benefits of self promotion.

Many artists would include in their portraits, friends or family members. In the late eighteenth century, children and animals were often included the pictures to provide evidence of the artist in a family setting.  

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Perhaps not surprisingly, artists painted each other either as an homage to the other artist or as a visual record of their friendship. Rubens portrait of his pupil Van Dyck provides evidence of their mutual respect and friendship.

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The fame of certain artists led to portraits of artists being collected from the sixteenth century onwards, Charles I was one of the first people to actively collect and display portraits of artists. By the late 1630s he owned at least twelve portraits of artists, three of which were hung together in his private Breakfast Chamber at Whitehall Palace. Rarely a member of the Royal Family will paint a portrait of an artist, an example in the exhibition is the Duke of Edinburgh’s portrait of artist Edward Seago and Seago’s portrait of the Duke.

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Gradually artists began to include their self-portrait in a number of ways which affirmed their status. Sometimes the picture may include the artist painting within a landscape or a studio. Landseer even manages to include his dogs into his self-portrait.

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Increasingly it becomes common for artists to use a self-portrait as a way to explore different roles using clothes, props and setting. Some artists took this even further by including themselves in multi-figure narrative scenes. During the Renaissance, several artists included their image within an altarpiece and would sometimes include the person responsible for the commission.

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One common theme from the Renaissance was artists who presented themselves as outsiders to society, the image of artists has the tortured genius added to their mystique. Artemisia Gentileschi‘s unusual self-portrait is perhaps an indication of the difficulty of being a female artist in a period dominated by male artists.

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This fascinating and enjoyable exhibition illustrates the many aspects of self-portraiture and how the role of the artist changed considerably after the Renaissance. Many artists became celebrities in their own time and like today’s celebrities were very particular about their image in front and behind the picture. It is this complexity of motives and inspiration for self portraits that provide many of the themes in the exhibition.  

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or book tickets, visit the Royal Collection 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