Marina Vaizey, Tom Birchenough
Old, New and Now. LONDON’S ROYAL ACADEMY TURNS 250
#4 2018 (61)
The anniversaries of celebrated cultural institutions are Janus-like: they look backwards to history to commemorate and celebrate - and forwards towards modernisation and change. Marking its 250 th "birthday” this year, London’s Royal Academy of Arts has made a huge and optimistic affirmation of its future, and thus of the role of art in the society which it inhabits. Its private supporters have backed an enormous fundraising campaign, with some £84 million raised to support a physical expansion of the Academy’s premises which underlines a much enhanced engagement with both professional practitioners and the general public.
DAMIEN HIRST. MASTER OF HIS - OWN DESTINY
#2 2016 (51)
For five months in summer 2012 London’s Tate Modern staged a major retrospective of Damien Hirst’s work; despite mixed reviews, the show became a star attraction, on a par with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the London Olympics. To get in people would queue for hours: perhaps they wanted to inhale the sweet smell of success, or find out what makes the work quite so valuable. Either way, it provided an opportunity to reappraise the achievements of an artist who is (in)famous in his own right, but who also masterminded the early success of the graduates who came to be known as the Young British Artists (YBAs) and who dramatically changed the London art scene in the early 1990s.
LUCIAN FREUD: REBEL WITH A CAUSE
#2 2016 (51)
Ritualistic, spontaneous, improvisatory, disciplined, anarchic, unfashionable, indifferent, insatiable, obsessed, risk-taking yet curiously wedded to routines: Lucian Freud’s life (1922-2011) was a mass of self-imposed contradictions, while his art was almost alarmingly focused, intense and unremitting, and the product of unvarying determination. He never, from his hallucinatory early drawings, prints and paintings on a relatively small scale to the paintings of his last decades, with rich thick impasto, and occasionally crowded with figures, deviated from his obsession not only with the observed world, but his observed world. The exhibition “Lucian Freud Portraits” at London’s National Portrait Gallery collected more than 100 works from museums and private collections - the first major show since the artist died on 20 July 2011, but in which he was involved until his death. It will perhaps be the culmination of his lifetime’s preoccupation with private faces in public places, and public faces in private places - for many of those he painted were never identified by name.
WYNDHAM LEWIS. PORTRAITS OF FRIENDS AND FOES
#2 2016 (51)
Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) was a key figure of the English modernist movement in both art and literature, acquainted with - as friend or enemy - almost all the key figures of British culture in the first half of the 20th century. Best known from 1914 as the founder and leading proponent of the pioneering British modernist movement Vorticism, his considerable legacy in another field, portraiture, was the subject of a retrospective at London’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG).
Watch, Listen, Achieve
#1 2016 (50)
"Seeing" means not just looking, but contemplating and comprehending the world around us. "Hearing sounds" means not just listening, but joining in with the rhythms, the very soundings of the Universe. That is close to how the legendary Lao Tzu defined the true nature of sight and hearing in his poetic treatise Tao Te Ching ("A Book about Way and Power"). The sage believed meditation allows a man to relieve his mind of everyday thoughts and troubles, to go beyond the material world in his consciousness, achieving the boundaries of the immense world of natural phenomena.
The Forms of Florence
#4 2013 (41)
THE SCULPTED SPIRIT OF FLORENCE IS REDISCOVERED THROUGH ITS ANTIQUE ROOTS IN THE MAGISTERIAL EXHIBITION "THE SPRINGTIME OF THE RENAISSANCE. SCULPTURE AND THE ARTS IN FLORENCE 1400-60" AT THE CITY'S PALAZZO STROZZI. ORGANIZED JOINTLY WITH THE LOUVRE, IT MOVES TO PARIS AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER, RUNNING THERE UNTIL EARLY 2014.
#4 2013 (41)
THE EXHIBITION "HOUGHTON REVISITED", WHICH RUNS UNTIL NOVEMBER 24 AT HOUGHTON HALL IN NORFOLK, ENGLAND, MUST COUNT AS THE MAJOR UK-RUSSIAN VISUAL ARTS PROJECT OF 2013. 70 WORKS FROM THE WALPOLE COLLECTION, ASSEMBLED BY BRITAIN'S FIRST PRIME MINISTER SIR ROBERT WALPOLE IN THE EARLY 18TH CENTURY, AND THEN SOLD IN 1779 TO CATHERINE THE GREAT TO BECOME PART OF THE HERMITAGE, RETURNED TO HANG IN THEIR ORIGINAL HOME AT HOUGHTON HALL, IN ROOMS REMODELLED TO MATCH THEIR ORIGINAL SURROUNDINGS.
A Renaissance Assassinated
#4 2013 (41)
The exhibition "Boris Kosarev: Modernist Kharkiv 1915-1931" at the Ukrainian Museum in New York explores the destinies of Kharkov modernism through the life and artwork of one of its most pre-eminent figures. The tally of years, as on a tombstone, defines the brief period of the development and flourishing of modernism in Kharkov.
Mark Antokolsky: " I have done every thing I could..."
#3 2013 (40)
Radical shifts in art are very often connected with the birth of outstanding creative personalities. The second half of the 19th century was just such an example: over a short period of time a real constellation of art-stars appeared, who inspire true lovers of art to this day. Among them is the sculptor Mark Antokolsky; the attitudes towards him of art critics from diametrically opposed wings of art – the democratic and the academic – were as different as the trends of art they represented. This juxtaposition did not make his life easier, but did make him a notable figure in the history of Russian sculpture.
Edvard Munch "...The Sun Was Setting"
#2 2013 (39)
EDVARD MUNCH'S ICONIC IMAGE OF MODERN MAN "THE SCREAM" - THE BEST-KNOWN PICTURE IN THE WORLD AND THE SEMINAL WORK OF EXPRESSIONISM - CAPTURES THE VULNERABILITY AND TRAGIC ASPECT OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. INDEBTED TO VINCENT VAN GOGH AND PAUL GAUGUIN, MUNCH (1863-1944) SEARCHED FOR A NEW ART OF DEPTH AND AUTHENTICITY. TODAY, "THE SCREAM" HAS BECOME AN UBIQUITOUS IMAGE OF POPULAR CULTURE, SIMULTANEOUSLY "APPROPRIATED" BY AN IRONIC POSTMODERNITY. BOTH EXTREMES SEEM RELEVANT IN UNDERSTANDING THE CONTEXT OF THE SPECTACULAR PRICE OF $120 MILLION THAT WAS PAID FOR A PASTEL VERSION OF THE IMAGE IN SPRING 2012. THE FAME OF "THE SCREAM" HAS COME TO EXCEED THE FAME OF THE ARTIST: THIS DISCREPANCY SEEMS TO BE DIMINISHING, HOWEVER, AS LARGE INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITIONS MAKE VIEWERS MORE FAMILIAR WITH THE BROADER ASPECTS OF MUNCH'S ART AND LEGACY. CELEBRATING THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARTIST'S BIRTH, THE MUNCH MUSEUM AND THE NATIONAL GALLERY IN OSLO GIVE A VAST, JOINT PRESENTATION OF THE ARTIST'S WORK THIS SUMMER AND AUTUMN.
Surreal Sparks: The Legacy of Meret Oppenheim
#2 2013 (39)
THE GREAT SWISS ARTIST, POET AND THINKER MERET OPPENHEIM WOULD HAVE CELEBRATED HER HUNDREDTH BIRTHDAY ON 6 OCTOBER 2013. IF THIS WERE NOT SUFFICIENT REASON TO BRING OUT OUR COLLECTIONS AND TAKE ANOTHER INTENSE LOOK AT THEM AFTER THE MAJOR RETROSPECTIVE EXHIBITION IN 2006, TODAY THE QUESTION IS - WHAT STATUS CAN HER ART CLAIM AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF RECENT ARTISTIC OUTPUT FROM SWITZERLAND?
Russian Realism in an American Landscape
#1 2013 (38)
A FAMILY ENCOUNTER WITH RUSSIAN ART LED JOHN AND KATHY WU RDEMAN TO CREATE A PIONEERING PRIVATE ART COLLECTION IN VIRGINIA - WITH A PARTICULAR EMPHASIS ON RUSSIAN REALISM AND THE PLEIN AIR TRADITION. LARGE PRIVATE COLLECTIONS HAVE OFTEN FORMED THE BASIS FOR FUTURE ART GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS - THE NAMES OF PAVEL AND SERGEI TRETYAKOV, IVAN MO-ROZOV AND SERGEI SHCHUKIN, ANDREW MELLON AND SAMUEL KRESS, ALEXEI BAKHRUSHIN AND LEVKIY ZHEVERZHEEV, EDOUARD ANDRE AND NELIE JACQUEMART, SOLOMON GUGGENHEIM, HENRY FRICK AND PETER LUDWIG ARE ALL TESTAMENT TO THAT PHENOMENON. AMONG CONTEMPORARY PRIVATE COLLECTIONS OF RUSSIAN ART OF THIS KIND SOME, LIKE THAT OF SLAVIST RENE GUERRA IN FRANCE, ARE WELL KNOWN, WHILE OTHERS ARE STILL WAITING TO BE POPULARIZED AND STUDIED.
H.M. QUEEN SONJA'S ART COLLECTION
#4 2012 (37)
Queen Sonja’s personal engagement in Norwegian art and culture goes back a long way. Over the years, the Queen has actively participated in Norway’s artistic and cultural spheres not just as its high patron but also as an important key figure; her efforts in casting light upon and promoting Norwegian art has gained her respect throughout Norway and far beyond.
Art Beyond Fascism
#4 2012 (37)
Running at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi until the end of January 2013, the exhibition “The Thirties. The Arts in Italy Beyond Fascism” features artists who came to public notice after exhibiting at the Venice Biennales during Italy’s Fascist era. It provides an opportunity to cast a fresh look at the artistic culture of this tragic historical period of European civilisation in the 20th century – one with regard to which there has been little variance of opinion to date among its interpreters and judges.
The Bauhaus. Ideas for the Future
#4 2009 (25)
The large and most comprehensive retrospective entitled “The Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” celebrates the 90th anniversary of the founding of this famous school of design, architecture, fine and applied art known for its reformatory ideas and aims and the international composition of its teachers and students. The exhibition opened in Berlin at the Martin-Gropius Bau, where it ran from 22 July to 4 October 2009, and can be seen at MOMA in January 2010 in New York. Organised by the joint efforts of German and American art historians, culturologists and archivists, this show represents the whole multi-sided heritage of the Bauhaus masters, their theoretical and practical experiments and discoveries. The scientifically argued concept of the organisers provides a rare opportunity to examine in detail a conflicting and complex evolution, the turning of a triad of geometrical figures and colours into a new aesthetics of artistic images, in architecture, the visual arts and design.
Michael Baumgartner, Carole Haensler
Paul Klee. Carpet of Memory
#4 2009 (25)
The exhibition "Paul Klee. Carpet of Memory',' which ran at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, brought to a thrilling conclusion the oriental "Grand tour" the Zentrum Paul Klee initiated with the exhibition "In Search of the Orient" and which leads visitors through time and space. The focus of this particular exhibition is the oeuvre of Paul Klee and the works that emerged from his trip to Tunisia in 1914 and Egypt in 1928, as well as his later exploration of a host of Orient-inspired themes. The exhibition also includes early Orient-themed photographs and examines the image of the Orient that photography helped to convey.
#1 2003 (01)
IT WAS MY FIRST "BUSINESS TRIP" TO VENICE, THOUGH I GUESS NO BUSINESS TRIP TO VENICE IS ONLY BUSINESS. THE IMPACT OF THE CITY IS SO GREAT AND HILARIOUS THAT YOU CAN’T AVOID THE MOST PLEASANT CONTACTS WITH THIS FAIRY-TALE, ALWAYS OVERCROWDED & BUSY PLACE AMIDST THE WATERS. I DID NOT WITNESS THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE BIENNALE, BUT NOW, HAVING VISITED ALL THE EVENTS, EXHIBITIONS AND PAVILIONS I DO BELIEVE MR. HOWARD JACOBSON WRITING "MY VENICE BIENNALE HELL" FOR THE GUARDIAN THAT THE PEOPLE PARTICIPATING IN THE OPENING CEREMONY WERE IF NOT MUCH MORE THEN AT LEAST NO LESS INTERESTING, ATTRACTIVE, FASCINATING AND SOPHISTICATED THAN THE EXHIBITION ITSELF. AS HE PUT IT: "ART IN QUANTITY – BLACK BOX, VIDEO, CAR-BOOT-SALE INSTALLATION ART - IS NOT A PRETTY SIGHT."