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Exhibition Review – Only Human: Martin Parr at the National Portrait Gallery from 7 March to 27 May 2019

The National Portrait Gallery presents a new exhibition entitled Only Human: Martin Parr which features works by one of Britain’s best-known and acclaimed photographers.

The exhibition brings together some of Parr’s best known photographs with new work by Parr never exhibited before. The exhibition examines national identity, both in the UK and abroad with a special focus on Parr’s well known observations of Britishness.

Parr made his reputation as a photographer in the 1980s, exploring the world of leisure activities. Parr carries on this theme with photographs of trips to the beach, tennis tournaments and a day at the races. It is these places where the public and private meet and where people can play with their identities, dressing up in a variety of ways. Another popular theme for Parr is dancing, the photographer documents people dancing across the globe.

Although best known for his portraits of ordinary people, Parr has photographed celebrities throughout his career. The exhibition features a selection of portraits of personalities often in unusual settings, most of which have never been exhibited before, including Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry and Pelé.

A lesser known aspect of Parr’s work is his self-portraits, for over thirty years, Parr has visited studio photographers, street photographers and photo booths across the globe to have his portrait taken. The section entitled Autoportraits explores portraiture and portrait photography with a wide range of serious and humorous settings employed by professional portraitists.

Parr’s Photo Escultura is a group of shrine-like carved photo-sculptures commissioned from the last remaining traditional maker of this type of work in Mexico City.

The exhibition features a section of the British Abroad and Parr’s well known study of the British ‘Establishment’ including recent photographs taken at Christ’s Hospital school in Sussex, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the City of London, revealing the eccentricities and ceremonies of elites in British life.

In the final room, new and previously unseen photographs reveals Parr’s documenting the social climate in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

The exhibition also includes a pop up ‘caff’ and shop which has lots of ‘paraphernalia’ developed from Parr’s photography.

This fascinating and entertaining exhibition provides plenty of evidence that the ‘British identity’ is often an ‘illusion’ produced for public display. In a public arena, people often dress up in a way that illustrates their ‘Britishness’. But how representative is this show of patriotic fervour ? Images like those in the exhibition seem to perpetuate and challenge stereotypes in equal measure. Underlying the humour of Parr’s work, there is serious questions of how ‘identity’ is forged by the individual and wider society.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, 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 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.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review – Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver at the National Portrait Gallery from 21 February to 19 May 2019


The National Portrait Gallery presents the first major exhibition on Tudor and Jacobean portrait miniatures in the UK for over 35 years. The exhibition entitled Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver brings together key works from the National Portrait Gallery and major loans from public and private collections.

The exhibition centres on the careers of two of the most skilled artists of the period, Nicholas Hilliard (1547? – 1619) and Isaac Oliver (c.1565 – 1617). It was considered that the portrait miniatures of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods by these two artists were of the highest quality, Hilliard and Oliver were highly regarded and gained international fame.

The exhibition explores the society and status role that the miniatures played in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. Miniatures were highly prized by  monarchs, courtiers and the rising middle classes because they were a means of gaining favour, showing loyalty and expressing close relationships.

An example of how they were used is Nicholas Hilliard’s ‘Peace with Spain’ medal 1604 which is the only medal linked to Hilliard. Only 12 examples of the gold medal were made for the most favoured courtiers, silver and bronze for those down the pecking order at court. The miniatures were often set into ornate jewelled cases and worn around the neck, pinned to clothing or secretly concealed.

The main part of the exhibition is devoted to Hilliard and Oliver’s portraits of Elizabeth I, as well as images of James I, his wife Anne of Denmark and his three children Henry, Elizabeth and Charles (later Charles I).

Miniatures of some of the most famous figures of the day, including Elizabeth I (playing a lute), Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake are displayed. Other highlights of the exhibition are Young Man among Roses by Hilliard and Hilliard’s Unknown Man against a Background of Flames, both on loan from the V&A.

Also in the exhibition are drawings by Hilliard and Oliver that illustrate their artistic qualities and large portraits of Hilliard and Queen Elizabeth I.

One unusual artistic role for Hilliard was to provide portraits for charters and legal documents as illustrated by the Midmay Charter from 1583-84.

This fascinating exhibition takes viewers into the often murky world of Tudor and Jacobean politics. Miniatures played a role in the elaborate processes of friendship, love, patronage and diplomacy. The stakes in the game were high and often a case of life and death. Hilliard and Oliver’s remarkable miniatures introduce us to some of the movers and shakers of the court and royal personages in all their glory.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, 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 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.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review: Gainsborough’s Family Album at the National Portrait Gallery from 22 November 2018 to 3 February 2019


The National Portrait Gallery bring together for the first time all twelve surviving portraits of Thomas Gainsborough’s daughters in a major new exhibition entitled Gainsborough’s Family Album. The exhibition features over fifty works from public and private collections across the world and include a number of works that have never been on public display in the UK.

Thomas Gainsborough, (1727–88) was a founding member of the Royal Academy and is considered one of Britain’s most important eighteenth-century portraitist, best known for his paintings of Mr and Mrs Andrews (c. 1748–1750), The Morning Walk, Portrait of Mr and Mrs William Hallett (1785), Her Grace, Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1787), Mrs. Sarah Siddons (1785) and The Blue Boy (1779).

Despite his success as a portraitist, Gainsborough’s first love was landscape, in the exhibition is one of his best known landscape works, The Harvest Wagon painted around 1767.

Although Gainsborough is known for his formal portraits, this exhibition explore another side to his works which is portraits of his family members. These include pictures of himself, his father, his wife, his daughters, two sisters and two brothers, a brother-in-law, two nephews, one niece, a few more distant relatives and his dogs.

The highlight of the exhibition is Gainsborough’s paintings of his daughters which range from The Artist’s Daughters chasing a Butterfly (c.1756) and The Artist’s Daughters with a Cat, (c.1760-1) to the grand full-length portrait of Mary and Margaret Gainsborough as fashionable young women (c.1774).

The exhibition also features an oval portrait by Thomas Gainsborough of his nephew and apprentice, Gainsborough Dupont which has recently been cleaned by the National Portrait Gallery conservation studios. The exhibition is the first time in over 100 years, this painting has been lent from its home at Waddesdon Manor.

The Gainsborough’s Family Album exhibition charts Gainsborough’s career from his early life in Suffolk to considerable success in Bath and finally finding his fame and fortune in London. Unusually, Gainsborough used portraits to show his own journey but also of his wife and daughters.

This exhibition is fascinating on a number of levels, Gainsborough in his pictures of his daughters as children, shows a delicate and tenderness for his subject that is often missing in his formal portraits. He also has more freedom is setting the pictures in a number of landscapes and backgrounds. The exhibition seems to confirm that Gainsborough wanted a record of his kinship network for posterity and undertook much of the work himself. Many artists would have made drawings of their family network but very few would have undertaken to paint so many family portraits.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, 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 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.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review – Michael Jackson: On the Wall at the National Portrait Gallery – 28 June to 21 October 2018


The National Portrait Gallery presents a new exhibition entitled Michael Jackson: On the Wall which explores how Michael Jackson has inspired some of the leading names in contemporary art. This major exhibition spanning several generations of artists across all media coincides with what would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday (on August 29, 2018).

While Jackson is considered one of the most iconic cultural figures of the 20th century for his music, videos, dance, choreography and fashion, his impact on contemporary art is less well-known and is the focus for this exhibition.

The Michael Jackson: On the Wall exhibition brings together the works of over 40 artists, drawn from public and private collections around the world, some of the artists featured include : Maggi Hambling, David LaChapelle, Catherine Opie, Yan Pei Ming, Grayson Perry, Donald Urquhart, Kehinde Wiley, Andy Warhol and many more

As you enter the exhibition, visitors can see a Michael Jackson representation by Keith Waring before Kehinde Wiley’s Equestrian portrait of King Phillip ( Michael Jackson) perhaps making a statement that the ways that Kings of history and Kings of Pop are projected have some similarity.

David LaChappelle takes this worship further with Jackson featured in a number of religious poses.

A series of videos show Michael Jackson in performance which provides evidence of his innovative live shows and music. However this is only one part of why Jackson fascinates artists and the exhibition asks why so many contemporary artists have been drawn to Jackson as a subject.

One of first artists drawn to Jackson’s iconic status was Andy Warhol who created images in his famous pop art style. A room in this exhibition explores this relationship between Warhol and Jackson.

A large cut out of Mark Ryden’s Dangerous from 1991 takes visitors from one part of the exhibition to another section which includes Michael Jackson’s remarkable ‘dinner jacket’ by Michael Lee Bush and Sex and Drugs and Earthenware by Grayson Perry.

With so many portraits of Jackson, we can see how he changed his appearance dramatically over the years and how his ‘persona’ became more complex as he grew older.

Many iconic figures of the 20th century had a self-destructive streak like Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, Michael Jackson’s story was not quite so simple with a number of issues that tarnished and challenged his reputation.

It is this ‘fallen idol’ stage that often attracts artists like Maggie Hambling who captures Jackson when he was facing charges about ‘child abuse’.

This exhibition is like its subject matter, entertaining but a little bizarre, the reality of a child star who became one of the most famous musical artists in the world has often been subsumed by myth and legend. Therefore it may not be a surprise that artists often portray Jackson as a mythical figure in mythical settings.

This exhibition may be a celebration of Michael Jackson artistic endeavours but provides some evidence of the dark underbelly of fame. It is this light and dark that seems to fascinate contemporary artists and the wider public, this exhibition is likely to be very popular and it may be worth booking in advance.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, 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 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.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review : BP Portrait Award 2018 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery – 14th June to 23rd September 2018

The BP Portrait Award, now in its 39th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 29th year of sponsorship by BP, is a highly successful annual art event aimed at encouraging artists to tackle the theme of painted portraiture within their work. The BP Portrait Award, one of the world’s most prestigious art competitions, has a first prize of £35,000, making it one of the largest for any global arts competition.

The BP Portrait Award is popular with artists with 2,667 entries from 88 countries; it is also popular with the public, last year the BP Portrait Award exhibition received over 300,000 visitors.

The entries were narrowed down to the final 48 works selected for the BP Portrait Award 2018 exhibition, the winners were selected from the portraits chosen for the exhibition.

The prestigious first prize was won by London-based artist, Miriam Escofet for An Angel at my Table, a portrait of her mother drinking tea. Miriam Escofet’s prize is £35,000 and a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £7,000 (agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist).

The second prize of £12,000 went to American painter, Felicia Forte, for Time Traveller, Matthew Napping, depicting her boyfriend Mathew asleep in bed.

The third prize of £10,000 went to Chinese artist, Zhu Tongyao for Simone his portrait of his neighbours’ child from his time staying in Florence.

The BP Young Artist Award of £9,000 for the work of a selected entrant aged between 18 and 30 has been won by 28 year-old Suffolk based artist Ania Hobson for A Portrait of two Female Painters a portrait of the artist with her sister-in-law.

The winner of the BP Travel Award 2018, an annual prize to enable artists to work in a different environment on a project related to portraiture, was Robert Seidel for his proposal to travel along the route of the river Danube by train, boat and bike to connect with people and make portraits in the regions through which the river passes. The prize of £8,000 is open to applications from any of this year’s BP Portrait Award-exhibited artists, except the prize-winners.

Part of the attraction of this free exhibition is to enjoy the wide variety of portraiture which features some famous and not so famous faces. The standard is consistently high and it is fun when you wander around the exhibition to pick out your own particular favourites and decide whether you agree with the judge’s choices.

The BP Portrait Award 2018 exhibition will run at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from Thursday 14 June to Sunday 23 September 2018. Admission is free.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Recommended

For more information, 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 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.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review – Tacita Dean: STILL LIFE at the National Gallery from 15th March to 28th May 2018

The National Gallery presents a new exhibition entitled Tacita Dean: STILL LIFE  which is part of an unprecedented collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts, and National Gallery, which will see all three galleries open distinct exhibitions with the artist Tacita Dean in 2018. The three exhibitions, Tacita Dean: LANDSCAPE, PORTRAIT, STILL LIFE will be shaped by artist’s response to the individual character of each institution and explore genres traditionally associated with painting – landscape at the Royal Academy of Arts, portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery and still life at the National Gallery.

Tacita Dean: STILL LIFE provides the unusual situation that Dean acts as both artist and curator in this National Gallery exhibition. In the role of curator Dean brings together a diverse selections of works to explore the genre from 17th century paintings like Francisco de Zurbarán’s Cup of Water and a Rose (about 1630) to contemporary pieces in a variety of mediums, by the artist herself or by her contemporaries like Thomas Demand, Roni Horn and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Dean uses the exhibition to question some of the concepts of still life and examine its legacy within the history of art.

Dean illustrates that placing pictures together with some similarities in subject matter can convey very different meanings that change over time. Walter Sickert’s A Dead Hare  and John Craxton’s Hare on the Table (1944-45) illustrate that the symbolism of death and mortality prevalent in early paintings can be drastically changed in more modern interpretations.

Cy Twombly’s Bread (2004) sandwiched between two old interpretations of still life’s featuring bread is another example of how religious or cultural symbolism changes over time. 

Some works show that taking still life outdoors with a landscape behind can have a transforming effect. 

Dean contributes a new film diptych made especially for the exhibition, ‘Ideas for Sculpture in a Setting’, and ‘Prisoner Pair’ (2008, 16mm).

This small free fascinating exhibition offers the opportunity for visitors to question some of the fundamental concepts of ‘still life’. Dean suggests that the concept of still life is one that often changes over the history of art with associated symbolism part of the appeal of the genre. However it could be argued that the genre is open to more modern interpretations which can set the genre free, sometimes quite literally by taking the ‘still life’ outdoors into the landscape.

Visiting London Guide Rating –  Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the National 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 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.
To find out more visit the website here

 

Exhibition Review – Tacita Dean: PORTRAIT at the National Portrait Gallery from 15th March to 28th May 2018

The National Portrait Gallery presents a new exhibition entitled Tacita Dean: PORTRAIT which is part of an unprecedented collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts, and National Gallery, which will see all three galleries open distinct exhibitions with the artist Tacita Dean in 2018.

The three exhibitions, Tacita Dean: LANDSCAPE, PORTRAIT, STILL LIFE will be shaped by artist’s response to the individual character of each institution and explore genres traditionally associated with painting – landscape at the Royal Academy of Arts, portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery and still life at the National Gallery.

Tacita Dean: PORTRAIT is the first exhibition in the Gallery’s history to be devoted to the medium of film. Dean has created a series of films of influential figures such as her major six-screen installation with Merce Cunningham in Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS… (six performances, six films) (2008), alongside her film of Claes Oldenburg in Manhattan Mouse Museum (2011) and her film of Julie Mehretu GDGDA (2011), all previously unseen in the UK,

as well as Mario Merz (2002), Michael Hamburger (2007), Cy Twombly in Edwin Parker (2011), and David Hockney in Portraits (2016).

Also on show for the first time in the UK are two photographic works: GAETA (fifty photographs plus one) (2015), taken in the studio of Cy Twombly and The Line of Fate with Leo Steinberg.

Dean has made two new films for the exhibition, Providence (2017) which is a portrait of actor David Warner with humming birds. Dean uses a particular technique that unites the two subjects photochemically.

The same technique is used for His Picture in Little (2017) which depicts three actors of different generations, David Warner, Stephen Dillane and Ben Whishaw. The film is miniature in scale inspired by the National Portrait Gallery’s collection of late sixteenth and early seventeenth-century portrait miniatures.

This unusual and interesting exhibition is mainly a series of film portraits which offer a more complex picture of the subject who is often in conversation or at work.  Dean who first came to prominence in the 1990s uses film to explore some of the different aspects of the individual. Her two latest films distort the accepted narrative by uniting disparate people, places and events in a coherent whole that only exists on film.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Recommended

For more information, 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 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.
To find out more visit the website here