December 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment
100 years ago an icon was born. Vivien Hartley, later to be known by her stage name Vivien Leigh became a darling across Hollywood screens and is now being celebrated in a beautiful collection of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery.
Most famous for her role in Gone With the Wind, the exhibition includes photographs from the beginning to the end of the actress’s life. Many of the images are stunning black and white editions of Leigh’s undeniable beauty. However, there are many reproductions which have been coloured in, giving them a 21st century feel.
Leigh’s fame was global, and my mother, born in Beirut, was named after the British star. Leigh had won two academy awards and was a much celebrated actress. The photographs are a testament to a world of glamour which seems a little lost in our modern lives. Included are images of Leigh with husband Laurence Olivier; a former power couple. Within the pictures and newspaper and magazine cuttings on show, you really get a sense of how much of a celebrity Leigh was, and how much speculation and wonder surrounded her and Olivier.
Many images on display have previously been unseen, these photographs are now introducing a younger generation to a historic face and talent.
Starring Vivien Leigh: A Centenary Celebration is on display at National Portrait Gallery until 20 July 2014
November 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The Victoria and Albert are now showing one of the most lovely exhibitions that I have seen in a very long time. It is like a love letter from the west to the east, in admiration of centuries of sumptuous Chinese art.
The work on display begins from 700 to 1900 allowing us westerners a comprehensive glimpse into the history of Chinese painting. The show has been well titled ‘masterpieces’, which it certainly is. I will be in serious doubt if anyone leaves the exhibition disappointed.
On display are beautiful scrolls, stunning panoramic ink paintings and buddhist banners all showcased in dimly lit rooms to allow the images to shine. Where exhibitions are often tightly packed with goods, here the rooms are large and spacious allowing the viewer to fully take in what is to offer.
The secular landscape paintings and images of animals and dragons are my favourites. However, each the carefully selected 80 paintings have been well chosen, so as there is enough, but never too much to see.
This show is simply spectacular and I urge everyone to see it as soon as possible!
Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700-1900 is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum until 19 January 2014
November 7, 2013 § Leave a Comment
When most people think about art they think about painting. The Gagosian believes however, that the era of painting is over and presents us with a more abstract view of art.
The show is a modern look at abstraction. However, I think the title is wrong. Many of the images do in fact involve paint. This paint may not be within the lines of classical art but it is still paint nevertheless. The show has not ended, rather it has changed.
The show is wonderfully diverse and includes work from Cy Twombly, Ed Ruscha, Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter and Richard Serra to name but a few. The work on display is light, colourful and expressive. A twentieth century delight!
The Show Is Over is on display at Gagosian, Britannia Street until November 30
November 3, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Political cartoons are not uncommon across newspaper’s today. They are humorous and often have the courage to visually express what everyone is thinking but doesn’t really want to openly admit. Honore Daumier was a French artist who is most famous for his prints of this nature in the 19th century. These are now on display at the Royal Academy along with some paintings and sculpture.
It is unlikely that many would have heard of Daumier. I for one was unaware of the Frenchman before seeing the exhibition posters splashed across the underground. I can say however, that I was pleasantly surprised by his lithograph newspaper prints. Each caricature cleverly illustrates the political issues of the time and ensures the viewer has smile constantly on their face.
Displayed with the political illustrations are miniature busts of the Daumier’s political characters in the form of his caricatures. These are wonderfully comical and while not visually stunning, certainly made me chuckle.
Also featured are the artist’s paintings. These images are very dark in colour and whilst there is nothing particularly wrong with them, they are not memorable.
This show is amusing. Daumier manages to make his once controversial political pieces light and enjoyable. He was greatly favoured by Baudelaire, and if he was good enough for him, Daumier is good enough for me!
Honore Daumier: Visions of Paris is on display at the Royal Academy until 26 January 2014
October 30, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Sex has long been a popular subject in art throughout history. From renaissance nudes to Japanese Shunga prints. It should not be something that surprises us. Sarah Lucas is renowned for this type of work, however it comes off crude and seedy.
Many of us may be used to works of art where sex is shown as sacred and beautiful. Nymphs in a forest or Venus on a bed. This retrospective of Lucas’s work however is more like the remnants of a drunken one night stand – best forgotten. The work on display is dirty, cigarette stained and quite frankly unappealing.
The work on display is certainly shocking, even when you know what to expect it seems so much more startling in the flesh. The sex here is not beautiful. There are no idealised bodies and the atmosphere certainly isn’t romantic. I didn’t think I was a prude. But for me at least, it was too much.
Sarah Lucas is on display at Whitechapel Gallery until 15 December
October 27, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The Courtauld Gallery is well known for its collection of impressive impressionist paintings. The images are easy on the eye and mostly made up of delicate colour patterns. However, a room has now been devoted to a series of monochrome images by Richard Serra which changes the ambiance of the whole gallery.
Richard Serra is an American sculptor. These two dimensional images are a far cry from his three dimensional work, however, they do not seem flat. Not at all. Black crayon is splattered across plastic sheets which seem to move with the light. The work is heavily textured, but it is done in a way that is tremendously subtle. It speaks volumes without having to shout.
The work may not exactly ‘fit in’ with everything else hanging on the Courtauld’s walls, but perhaps the stark difference is what is needed for us to truly appreciate the twelve drawings on display.
It is different but in a good way.
Richard Serra: Drawings for the Courtauld is on display until 12 January 2014
October 23, 2013 § Leave a Comment
When someone mentions the name Yayoi Kusama our first thoughts turn to bright colours and dozens and dozens of polkadots. However, a recent show at Victoria Miro shows that the Japanese artist has recently taken a different turn.
White Infinity Nets is made up of just that. A lot of white, under the guise of nets. Every single on display at the gallery is completely void of colour. It is almost clinical. It is clean, but not clinical. Over the top of the images are painted white nets. We can see this in the thick texture of the white on the blank canvases. Despite this, many of the images are multitonal. Different shades of grey become apparent. Some of the images are reminiscent to me of flowers.
In Britain, we are most familiar with the images shown in last years Kusama exhibition at Tate Modern. However, these infinity nets were first produced in the 1950s. Consequently these images have been revisited again and again over the years and are now for the first time on display in Europe at the new Victoria Miro gallery in Mayfair.
The exhibition is somewhat refreshing. The eyes can take a break from the loud bright images that are dominating contemporary art these days. What is also different is here the dots become secondary to the nets, where in the images on display last year, the dots seem to come before the background.
White Infinity Nets are on display at Victoria Miro until 9 November at Victoria Miro