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Exhibition Review: Bill Viola / Michelangelo at the Royal Academy – 26th January to 31st March 2019

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Royal Academy of Arts presents the work of the pioneering video artist, Bill Viola, with drawings by Michelangelo (1475 -1564) in an exhibition entitled Bill Viola / Michelangelo : Life, Death, Rebirth.  Both artists share a deep preoccupation with the nature of human experience and existence and the exhibition is  a unique opportunity to see major works from Viola’s career and some of the greatest drawings by Michelangelo, together for the first time. It is the first exhibition at the Royal Academy largely devoted to video art and follows Viola’s visit to the Print Room at Windsor Castle in 2006 to see Michelangelo’s famous drawings. The visit was a catalyst for this exhibition, which examines the affinities between the artists in seeking answers to some fundamental questions about life and death.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The exhibition is conceived as an immersive journey through the cycle of life, exploring the transience and tumult of existence and the possibility of rebirth. It opens with a group of works by both artists that reflect life and death,  Michelangelo’s The Virgin and Child with the Infant St John the Baptist, c. 1504-05, known as the ‘Taddei Tondo’ is featured opposite Viola’s Nantes Triptych, 1992 which consists of three screens that individually portray a woman giving birth, a figure floating and Viola’s own mother on her deathbed.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

One of the highlights of the exhibition is Michelangelo’s remarkable ‘Presentation Drawings’ of the 1530s (Royal Collection, London), the drawings were produced for a Roman nobleman and feature personal ideas on the nature of love and life. The drawings feature allegories on the nature of love and life with subjects matters that include the labours of Hercules and the fall of Phaeton.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Playing opposite these drawings is the video of Viola’s Man Searching for Immortality/Woman Searching for Eternity, 2013 . Life-size images of a nude ageing man and woman are projected onto two black granite slabs like elderly Adam and Eve.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Viola’s Sleep of Reason 1988, The Reflecting Pool 1977-79 and Surrender 2001 offer differing views of reality taking the familiar but giving a glimpse of other worlds lurking in the background.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The final galleries include a series of works that consider mortality and the possibility of rebirth. These include Michelangelo’s drawings of the  Crucifixion and Viola’s epic works; the five screen installation Five Angels for the Millennium, 2001 and the large projections Fire Woman, 2005  and Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Waterfall Under a Mountain), 2005.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This fascinating and thought-provoking exhibition offers a contrast between Viola’s large installations and Michelangelo’s small and intimate works. In the darkness of the galleries, Michelangelo’s drawings are illuminated which builds on the religious and classical imagery.  In comparison Viola’s large videos seem abstract and less defined, although they do offers some ideas of the nature of reality.  Both artist’s are finally consumed by the idea of the body as a vehicle for that final journey, they depict bodies falling and rising in an endless cycle towards the unknown.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the Royal Academy website here

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Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
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Bill Viola / Michelangelo at the Royal Academy – 26th January to 31st March 2019

The Royal Academy of Arts brings together the work of the pioneering video artist, Honorary Royal Academician Bill Viola, with drawings by Michelangelo (1475 -1564). Though working five centuries apart and in radically different media, these artists share a deep preoccupation with the nature of human experience and existence. Bill Viola / Michelangelo will create an artistic exchange between these two artists and will be a unique opportunity to see major works from Viola’s long career and some of the greatest drawings by Michelangelo, together for the first time. It will be the first exhibition at the Royal Academy largely devoted to video art and has been organised in partnership with Royal Collection Trust.

The exhibition will comprise 12 major video installations by Viola, from 1977 to 2013, to be shown alongside 15 works by Michelangelo. They include 14 highly finished drawings, considered to be the high point of Renaissance drawing, as well as the Royal Academy’s ‘Taddei Tondo’. It will propose a dialogue between the two artists, considering Viola as an heir to a long tradition of spiritual and affective art, which makes use of emotion as a means of connecting viewers with its subject matter. It also aims to recapture the spiritual and emotional core of Michelangelo, beyond the awesome grandeur of his works.

Viola first encountered the works of the Italian Renaissance in Florence in the 1970s where he spent some of his formative years. A residency at the J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, in 1998 renewed his interest in Renaissance art and in the shared affinities with his own practice. In 2006, Viola visited the Print Room at Windsor Castle to see Michelangelo’s exquisite drawings, which he had known in reproduction since his youth. The meeting proved a catalyst for the exhibition, which evolved as a conversation between Viola and Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings at Royal Collection Trust. Rather than setting up direct comparisons between the artists, or suggesting that Michelangelo has been an instrumental influence on Viola’s work, the exhibition will examine the affinities between them, bringing together specific works to explore resonances in their treatment of the fundamental questions.

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.
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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.
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Exhibition Review: From Life at the Royal Academy – 11th December 2017 to 11th March 2018

The Royal Academy of Arts presents From Life, a special exhibition project that examines what making art from life has meant to artists throughout history and how the practice is evolving as technology opens up new ways of creating and visualising artwork.

The Royal Academy looks into its own past to illustrate that drawing from casts of Classical and Renaissance sculpture and life models was considered essential training for any aspiring artist. Some are the casts are shown in the exhibition.

The exhibition features paintings by Johan Zoffany that show gatherings of Royal Academicians in a life-drawing room. The formality of the occasion suggest that the ability to draw well was an accomplishment that was valued especially at the RA Schools, Britain’s longest established fine art school.

The RA is on the eve of its 250th anniversary and explores how contemporary artists are continuing the process of working from life. One of the major changes over time is the rejection of Classical and Renaissance sculpture has the main subject matter.

Artists like Jenny Saville, Ellen Altfest, Chantal Joffe and Gillian Wearing are more interested in a more realistic depiction of the human face and body.

Other artists such as Jonathan Yeo, Antony Gormley and Yinka Shonibare use the human body as a starting point before developing more abstract forms.

Jeremy Deller’s Iggy Pop Life Class which took place at the Brooklyn Museum in 2016 is a modern take on the old life class tradition. Using ageing rock star Iggy Pop as his model, Deller introduces a new dynamic into the equation. Most models tend to be are anonymous, so what happens when the model has a cultural identity already? The pictures produced by a number of skilled and novice artists indicate that capturing something other than the body in that format is very difficult.

The exhibition moves From Life to Virtual Life with new interactive work of artists Yinka Shonibare, Humphrey Ocean, and architect Farshid Moussavi which offer a glimpse of possible future applications of Virtual Reality technology for the art of tomorrow.

As part of the RA’s 250th anniversary celebrations, they are offering 250 people of all abilities the chance to follow in the footsteps of generations of great artists at free life-drawing classes in the historic RA Schools Life Room. The places will be allocated through an open ballot.

This fascinating exhibition charts one of the constants of the art world, although drawing from life has changed considerably it still is one of the fundamental skills for many artists. The Royal Academy is using its upcoming anniversary to consider how the life of the artist has changed over the last 250 years and explores some of the exciting new developments on the horizon.

Video Review available here 

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information , 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
here

Exhibition Review – Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans at the Royal Academy from  29th October 2016 to  29th January 2017

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The Royal Academy of Arts presents the first major exhibition of James Ensor’s work to be held in the UK in twenty years. Ensor is considered one of Belgium’s most important modernist artists, however his work is largely unknown in the UK. The exhibition is curated by the Belgian contemporary artist, Luc Tuymans, who will introduce a wide range of Ensor’s work.

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 The exhibition entitled Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans will bring together 70 paintings, drawings and prints by the artist, the vast majority of which have been drawn from major Belgian collections. 

Born in 1860 to an English father and a Belgian mother, Ensor was bought up in the coastal town of Ostend, where his family ran a curio shop. The objects in the shop fascinated Ensor who would use some of the objects as inspiration to create imaginary worlds in his paintings.

Although Ensor became a student at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, he tended to rebel against traditional art establishment and preferred the company of free thinking artists and intellectuals of the period.

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Some of Ensor’s first paintings were of the interiors of dimly lit Ostend homes especially The Bourgeois Salon (1880) and Afternoon in Ostend (1881). Next to the paintings is a screen showing Guillaume Bijl’s 2002 black and white film James Ensor in Ostend which portrays the elderly artist as a distinguished member of the Ostend society.

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Whilst that may have been the case later in life, some of Ensor’s early works scandalised the generally conservative society. Some of his main targets were religion and the middle class, The Man of Sorrows (1891)  and the hand coloured etching of one of his most famous painting’s The Entry of Christ into Brussels in 1889 (1888-89) portray a less than favourable view of Christ’s standing in the local society. Certain members of that local society are lampooned in The Baths at Ostend (1890), The Bad Doctors (1892) and The Dangerous Cooks (1896).

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Ensor in his Self-portrait with Flowered Hat (1883) portrays himself in a humorous  and playful manner, humour is an important factor in a large number of his works including The Intrigue (1890), Skeletons Fighting over a Pickled Herring (1891) and The Skeleton Painter (1896/97).

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Ensor in many ways carried on in his own individual style without committing himself to a particular artistic style or school, although in 1883 he co-founded the progressive artist group Les Vingt.  His most productive period was the 1880’s up to the 1900, after this he pursued other interests and enjoyed his newly found status as a respected artist in Belgium. In 1929, he received the title of Baron from King Albert I and was influential for a number of younger artists including Wassily Kandinsky.

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This fascinating exhibition will introduce Ensor’s work to a wider audience in the UK, whilst the artist’s work is exhibited in the rest of Europe, he remains underrepresented in UK national collections. Perhaps part of the reason for this is that Ensor is very difficult to categorise, although he shows elements of expressionism and surrealism in his work, they do not dominate and he is equally at home painting still life like The Skate (1892). Part of Ensor’s legacy is that he still inspires artists especially exhibition curator Luc Tuymans whose Gilles de Binche (2004) is in the exhibition with two works on paper by Belgian Symbolist painter Léon Spilliaert, Gilles de Binche carnival masks and a large feather headdress worn in the Carnival of Binche.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Dates and Opening Hours

Open to public:            Saturday 29 October 2016 – Sunday 29 January 2017

                                    10am – 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm)

Late night opening:     Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm)

Admission

£11.50 full price (£10 excluding Gift Aid donation); concessions available; children under 16 and Friends of the RA go free.

For more information or to book 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
here

Exhibition Review : Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy – 24th September 2016 to 2nd January 2017

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The Royal Academy of Arts presents the first major exhibition of Abstract Expressionism to be held in the UK in almost sixty years . The exhibition features over 150 paintings, sculptures and photographs from public and private collections across the world and includes works  by acclaimed American artists including Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Phillip Guston, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Aaron Siskind, David Smith and Clyfford Still.

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In 1946, critic Robert Coates coined the term  ‘Abstract  Expressionism’  to describe a new  movement in American art.  The artists who were considered part of this movement did not follow a particular school of painting but were generally Americans living through the politically turbulent times of the 1940s,50s and 60s.

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Arshile Gorky was considered one of the pioneers of Abstract Expressionism by the way that he was able to create a synthesis between various trends such as Cubism and Surrealism.

Three of the first seven rooms of the exhibition are given over to the three most famous names of the movement. Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko all bought their own originality to creating works that began to challenge some of the traditional views of painting.

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Jackson Pollock developed a process  of painting that involved a canvas being laid onto the ground and paint being dropped onto the canvas to create intricate webs of paint that built up into a complex tangle of paint and colour.  Pollock’s monumental  Mural (1943) and Blue Poles ( 1952) are shown in the same gallery for the first time in the exhibition.

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Willem de Kooning’s  work often turns its back on pure abstract by alternating between abstraction and figurative. Like many artists, he was inspired by the female form and many of his works such as Woman II ( 1952) have an erotic aspect.

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Mark Rothko maintained many of his paintings were ‘facades’ and the way that the artist created a painting of seemingly simple blocks of colour would suggest they could be taken merely on their ‘face value’. However they create a number of complex responses from the viewer who is often drawn into the picture.

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Many of the other rooms in the exhibition explore some of the many responses of artists to their surroundings in post war America. Gesture as Colour, The Violent Mark and  Darkness Visible  illustrate how some artists responded to the often violent times and urban life.

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Works by Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt and Clyfford Still are featured in the later rooms with sculptures by David Smith being used in many rooms and outside in the courtyard.

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Whilst Abstract Expressionism is rooted in post war America, it has since garnered universal appeal with some of the best known artists achieving ‘iconic’ status. This exhibition brings together works that illustrate that a diverse group of artists created a particular response to the troubled times they lived in.  Since the growth of interest in Abstract Expressionism, it had tended to divide opinion and is often criticised for being too simplistic. Others admire the often monumental scale of the works and their spontaneity and energy.

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This exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to make their own minds up with one of the largest shows of Abstract Expressionism works ever seen in the UK.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Opening Times

10am – 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm)

Fridays and Saturdays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm)

Admission

£17 full price (£15 without Gift Aid donation); concessions available;

Children under 16 and Friends of the RA go free.

For more information and book 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 here

 

A Short Guide to The Royal Academy of Arts

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The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is one of the major art institutions in London and is based at Burlington House in Piccadilly. Unlike many other art institutions, The RA is an independent, privately funded institution led by artists. Whose mission is to promote not just the appreciation and understanding of art, but also its practice.

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The RA has an illustrious history being formed with the support of King George III, the idea was to form a society for promoting the Arts of Design. Although there were other artist societies, they generally just put on exhibitions. The RA wanted to become Britain’s first art school and provide a space to put on exhibitions that would advertise the talents of its members.

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Among the founder members were acclaimed painters Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough and Benjamin West. The R A was based first in a small gallery in Pall Mall before moving into the old then new Somerset House in 1780. The Academy then moved to the New National Gallery in 1837 before in 1868 locating in its present home in Burlington House in Piccadilly. Artists that have studied at the RA school have included J. M. W. Turner, William Blake, Thomas Rowlandson, John Constable and Edwin Landseer.

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The RA Schools is still an important part of the Academy and offers free tuition to all who study here. To help to fund the schools and other activities, the RA put on a series of world-class exhibitions throughout the year. Recent exhibitions have featured well known artists Ai Weiwei and Anselm Kiefer, but also feature lesser known artists like American abstract artist Richard Diebenkorn and the Renaissance artst Giovanni Battista Moroni.

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One of the most prestigious events of the Academy is the annual Royal Academy summer exhibition of new art, which is a well-known event on the London social calendar. Anyone can submit pictures for inclusion in the exhibition and those selected join the works of the Academicians. There are a number of social events associated with the exhibition and many of the works are available for purchase.

The Royal Academy of Arts is based in Burlington House, Piccadilly W1J 0BD.

Opening times

Monday 10am – 6pm
Tuesday 10am – 6pm
Wednesday 10am – 6pm
Thursday 10am – 6pm
Friday 10am – 10pm
Saturday 10am – 6pm
Sunday 10am – 6pm

For more information, visit the RA 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