Alma-Tadema!

Alma-Tadema: At Home In Antiquity, Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Rd, London, W14,, until 29th October 2017

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about this exhibition:

 

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, The Finding of Moses, 1904. © Private Collection

Unbelievably for such a well-known artist, this is the first exhibition of the works of Alma-Tadema in London since 1913. He was a great friend of Lord Leighton and will of course have visited the House which makes the placing of the exhibition here most fitting.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
Self-Portrait of Lourens Alma Tadema, 1852.
© Fries Museum, Collection Royal Frisian Society

A visit to Pompeii on his honeymoon inspired Alma-Tadema to depict carefully researched scenes of life in Ancient Rome which reminded me very much of scenes from the very popular spectacular epic films of the fifties and sixties such as Quo Vadis?, The Ten Commandments, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Ben-Hur and apparently Alma-Tadema had been an inspiration for some of the filmmakers even as late as Gladiator. Indeed many of his paintings are amazingly in the CinemaScope ratio!

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
A Pyrrhic Dance, 1869.
© Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London

There are photographs, artefacts and drawings and paintings from his two houses, one close to the Regent’s Canal and the other in Grove End Road whose exterior remains largely unchanged.  There is also a selection of the panels painted by Alma-Tadema’s artist friends including Lord Leighton which hung in Alma-Tadema’s house and which are reunited for this exhibition. The Studio will also house the portrait of Leopold Lowenstam a friend of Alma-Tadema which was rediscovered on the Antiques Roadshow in 2016 and is on public display for the first time.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
Coign of Vantage, 1895.
© Ann and Gordon Getty

The exhibition is a wonderful journey through Alma-Tadema’s work displayed in a beautiful and atmospheric setting.

 

 

http://www.leightonhouse.co.uk

 

Anime Architecture

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about this exhibition:

Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan, Main Gallery at House of Illustration, 2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London N1, until 10th September 2017

Background illustration for Ghost in the Shell cut 341 by Hiromasa Ogura
©1995


Being totally unfamiliar with Anime, this exhibition came as a delightful surprise.  The technique involved in producing these films seems quite complicated but the results are well worth the trouble.
Perhaps the most well-known anime film is Ghost In The Shell, recently remade as a live action film with Scarlett Johansson who looks as much like a Japanese as I look like Scarlett Johansson – the beard of course doesn’t help!
Hiromasa Ogura’s watercolours for the anime Ghost In The Shell are on display and are based on photographs of Hong Kong and depict a slightly exaggerated contrast between a derelict Chinese town and the extreme development of the urban space.  They are quite haunting and intriguing and somewhat reminiscent of film noir of the forties and fifties.

Concept Design for Ghost in the Shell 2 Innocence by Takashi Watabe
© 2004 Shirow Masamune KODANSHA

Pencil drawings by Takashi Watabe whose fantastically realistic style has become a hallmark for Japanese anime films are also on display.
By the end of the exhibition I was very keen to see an anime film and in the last room of the exhibition my wish was granted as there are three short excerpts from two anime films.  I now look forward to watching more on DVD.

 

 

 

Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm. Closed Mondays

 

houseofillustration.org.uk.

 

Jane Austen’s Portraits

The Mysterious Miss Austen, The Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry Street
Winchester, until 24th July, 2017

Jane Austen by James Andrews, watercolour, 1869
(c) Private collection, courtesy of the 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop, Stevenson, Maryland.

I had of course known about Jane Austen for many years but had not actually read one of her novels until I was in my early twenties and found out what an absolute delight they are. I knew something of her life (I just passed where she stayed in Covent Garden’s Henrietta Street this morning) but it was a real delight to come and see this exhibition which marks the two hundredth anniversary of her death and which not only brings together five portraits of her under the same roof for the first time, but includes letters, items of clothing and a manuscript alternative ending to her final novel Persuasion, which was not used in the end. There are also items from both an English and an American private collection which bring the story up-to-date and the rather fine ceramic vase Jane Austen in E 17 by Grayson Perry has been loaned as well.

Installation view:
Jane Austen Pelisse coat

I found it unexpectedly moving and although as the exhibition’s title suggests she does remain somewhat mysterious I felt I had at least encountered her. It was therefore wholly appropriate to pay my respects as I bowed my head to read the inscription on the tablet set into the floor of the north aisle in nearby Winchester Cathedral, commemorating her life and burial there.

Jane Austen ledgerstone – Winchester Cathedral by John Crook

https://hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/the-gallery-at-winchester-discovery-centre

Installation View:
Jane Austen portraits display

“Love Scenes”

 Dan Llywelyn Hall – “Love Scenes”, Lights of Soho, 35 Brewer Street, London, W1, until 17th June 2017

GOLDFINGER

I have had the pleasure of writing about Dan before and I very much want to share his new exhibition of work with you. It reflects his long-term interest in the theme of love over the centuries through art or popular culture.

LOVE ARABESQUE

He has developed a strong following for his artworks whether landscapes, city scenes or portraits such as the one he painted of the Queen in 2013.  He says of this show:  “Lights of Soho occupies a building that once was central to the Paul Raymond empire; a venue familiar with scenes of erotica and physical embodiments of love. The ‘Scenes of Love’ series should feel at home here with my depictions of the greatest love encounters through the ages.”

1001 NIGHTS

https://www.LightsofSoho.com

CASABLANCA

http://www.danllywelynhall.co.uk/

 

 

 

Photo London 2017

Photo London 2017, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2, 18th – 21st May 2017

Isaac Julien
Pas de Deux with Roses (Looking for Langston Vintage Series), 1989/2016
Ilford classic silver gelatin fine art paper, mounted on aluminum and framed
Framed size 58.1 x 74.5 cm
22 7/8 x 29 3/8 in
edition of 4 plus 2 artist’s proofs
Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London
© Isaac Julien

This the third edition of Photo London emphasises not only the fact that this is most definitely a world-class photography fair but also what an important, vibrant role London plays in contemporary photography. Hence I am using this time just one image to celebrate the work of Isaac Julien an internationally acclaimed London-born and based artist and filmmaker.  Don’t miss this opportunity to see the best of what the world has to offer both at the fair and elsewhere in London. Please allow yourself time to visit the fair more than once – it’s well worth it.

 

http://photolondon.org

Vintage Beaton!

Cecil Beaton, Beetles+Huxley, 3-5 Swallow Street, London W1, until 20th May 2017

Mrs Harrison Williams, Later Mona Countess of Bismark, c. 1935
(c) Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Archive. Image courtesy of Beetles+Huxley

It would be remiss of me not to bring this exhibition of more than eighty Cecil Beaton photographs to your attention.  They cover the early part of his career from the 1920s to the 1940s.  Originally purchased in the early 50s these photographs have been in an American private collection for over sixty years.

Tyneside Shipyard, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 1943
(c) Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Archive. Image courtesy of Beetles+Huxley.

You will discover  the ‘Bright Young Things’ of the 20s, distinctive fashion pictures created for Vogue in the 30s, and wartime works for the Ministry of Works in the 2nd World War with Vivien Leigh, Queen Elizabeth consort of George VI), H G Wells and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor on their wedding day among the portraits on view.

Self Portrait in a Carriage, 1930s
(c) Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Archive. Image courtesy of Beetles+Huxley.

http://www.beetlesandhuxley.com

BOOK REVIEW: Brigitte Bardot: My Life in Fashion

I have asked John Kirkwood to review this book:

Brigitte Bardot: My Life in Fashion  

Henry-Jean Servat, Brigitte Bardot

Publisher: Flammarion
ISBN: 978-2080202697
£29.95

brigittebardotmylifeinfashion_cover-2

It may seem slightly odd to bring out a book about fashions worn by an actress who was well known for wearing no clothes at all on screen.

 

Bardot says that le style Bardot is her style which is to say that there is no style at all as she wears what she feels like at the moment. However, it was impossible in the late fifties and early sixties not to see girls who were clearly influenced by her on almost every high street. The gingham dress or Breton sweaters and jeans crowned by the disarranged ‘choucroute’ hairstyle piled on top.

Bardot never really followed fashion, she was a complete individualist and in so being created a look which became her style. For some of her films she was dressed by Givenchy, Dior, Chanel, Balmain and Cardin but in her private life wore designs by the House of Real and Jacques Esterel who made the famous pink gingham dress which was copied everywhere. In the seventies she was very enamoured of the gypsy cum hippie look of Jean Bouquin.  At one time she went to Coco Chanel because she so admired the Chanel dress worn by Delphine Seyrig in Last Year In Marienbad and wanted one like it. In one of her best roles in La Verité she wore clothes which she herself had bought from Monoprix, the French version of Woolworths and in other films would quite often wear clothes from her own wardrobe.

As a long term practioner of ‘Bardolatry’ I found this to be a very well-constructed book which takes us through the evolution of Bardot’s non-style with many wonderful images which still remain fresh today.

Now in her eighties and devoted to her Foundation which benefits animals Bardot when asked about her style today says ‘I don’t dress up anymore!’

 

http://editions.flammarion.com/