Matisse in the Studio

Matisse in the Studio, The Sackler Wing, Royal Academy of Arts,  Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1, until 12th November 2017

 

© John Kirkwood

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

 

It isn’t often that one can visit an exhibition of works by a master such as Matisse and also see the subjects of the work on view alongside them as well. This exhibition brings together 35 objects alongside 65 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and cut-outs and it is startling to see the very objects represented, as Tommy Cooper might have said ‘before your very eyes!’

© John Kirkwood

This is the first exhibition to show that such treasures as are on display were often both the inspiration and the subject matter for the work and we must be grateful for their survival. Some of the objects are represented as you will see them but others get an interpretation from Matisse which shows his imagination and skill in transforming them into works of art.  Altogether a fascinating visit to his studio.

 

© John Kirkwood

http://www.royalacademy.org.uk

OUT & ABOUT: Blain|Southern

Bernar Venet at Cliveden
©Courtesy the Artist and BlainSouthern, Photo Jonty Wilde

If you did not catch Benar Venet’s first solo exhibition in London since 1976 at Blain|Southern recently then you have an opportunity to see his works in the grounds of Cliveden, Buckinghamshire. Regarded by many as the foremost living French sculptor, ten large-scale works await discovery in the glorious formal gardens and spaces of Cliveden and can be seen there until mid-October.

 

nationaltrust.org.uk/cliveden

Bernar Venet at Cliveden
©Courtesy the Artist and BlainSouthern, Photo Jonty Wilde

 

http://www.blainsouthern.com/

Sargent in Dulwich

Sargent: The Watercolours, Gallery Road, London SE21, until 8th October 2017

John Singer Sargent, The Church of Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, c. 1904-9,
watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, 36.7 x 53.8 cm,
© Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon. Photo: Catarina Gomes Ferreira

It is almost a hundred years since there was an exhibition devoted to the watercolours of John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) so there is much to celebrate in this show. The eighty works by this Anglo American artist are an absolute delight with most dating from between 1900 – 1918.

Unknown photographer, Sargent painting a watercolour in the Simplon Pass, c. 1910-11,
Sargent Archive, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Sargent by 1910 had basically given up the portrait painting for which he was renowned to concentrate on watercolour painting. He travelled in Southern Europe and the Middle East and brought his own idiosyncratic style to these wonderful works whether fragmented glimpses, cities, people or landscapes. As the photograph shows he painted ‘en plein air’ and in some of the Venice watercolours you feel you are actually there with him in the gondola from which he depicts the view before him.

John Singer Sargent, A Turkish Woman by a Stream, c. 1907,
watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, with touches of body colour, 35.9 x 50.8 cm,
Victoria and Albert Museum. Bequeathed by Miss Dorothy Barnard. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Richard Ormond, co-curator and grand-nephew of Sargent, says: “In Sargent’s watercolours we see his zest for life and his pleasure in the act of painting. The fluency and sensuality of his paint surfaces, and his wonderful command of light, never cease to astonish us. With this exhibition we hope to demonstrate Sargent’s mastery of the medium and the scale of his achievement”.
I rather think you will agree with him.

John Singer Sargent, Rome: An Architectural Study, c. 1906-7,
watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, 34.9 x 50.2 cm,
Museums & Galleries, City of Bradford MDC

 

http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

 

John Singer Sargent, Highlanders Resting at the Front, 1918,
watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, 34.3 cm x 53.5 cm,
© Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Art in the Age of Black Power

SOUL OF A NATION: ART IN THE AGE OF BLACK POWER, Tate Modern, until 22nd October 2017

 

Elizabeth Catlett
Black Unity, 1968
Mahogany wood
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, © Catlett Mora Family Trust/DACS, London / VAGA, NY 2017

 

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

 

It is quite startling to enter this exhibition and be confronted by copies of the Black Panther newspaper – the printed form of the ideology behind the Black Panther movement of the early sixties which wasn’t always engaged in peaceful or lawful pursuits.

Faith Ringgold (b.1930)
American People Series #20: Die, 1967
Oil on canvas,1828 x 3657 mm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase; and gift of the Modern Women’s Fund, © Faith Ringgold

There are images in varying media of many of the personalities involved in the rise of the awareness of Black Power including Aretha Franklin, Muhammad Ali and Toni Morrison.  On the more political side we have of course Martin Luther King and Malcolm X who has a painting dedicated to him by Jack Whitten on public display for the first time.  There is a fragment from The Wall of Respect in Chicago which became a powerful symbol of the Civil Rights movement.

Andy Warhol
Muhammad Ali, 1978
Synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on canvas, 1016 x 1016 mm
Private collection
© 2017 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London

This is a timely and far-reaching exhibition and a major celebration of a crucial but perhaps overlooked area of American art history when black artists rose to the challenge of increasing their visibility and saying out loud and clear ‘We are here!’

Roy DeCarava
Couple Walking,1979
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper, 356 x 279 mm
© Courtesy Sherry DeCarava and the DeCarava Archives

http://www.tate.org.uk

Royal Gifts

Royal Gifts – the Summer Opening of the State Rooms, Buckingham Palace, until 1st October 2017

Australian State Coach
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017. Photographer: David Cripps

From the moment you arrive at the Grand Entrance and espy the Australian State Coach, a gift to Her Majesty in 1988 from the people of Australia to mark the Australian Bicentenary, you know you are in for something rather exciting. Indeed many of the State Rooms are transformed by special displays of over two hundred gifts that have been presented to The Queen in the sixty-five years of her reign.

‘Royal Gifts’, the special exhibition at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace.
Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.

You will discover a remarkable cross section of items and every gift reflects the donor whether a town, organisation or country.  Each in its own way is uniquely special. I am not going to mention examples because it is something to be experienced in person. I found it all fascinating and engrossing in a way that I had not expected but will remember for a long time.

A Royal Collection Trust member of staff adjusts the Vessel of Friendship, a model of the ‘treasure ship’ sailed by the 15th-century Chinese navigator and diplomat Zeng He. The model was presented to Her Majesty by President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China during the State Visit to Buckingham Palace in October 2015.
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.

 

Members of Royal Collection Trust staff put the finishing touches to a display of gifts from around the United Kingdom as part of ‘Royal Gifts’, the special exhibition at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace.
Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.

In the Music Room is a charming display to mark the twentieth anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Many of the objects and mementos on and around her desk from her Sitting Room in Kensington Palace were chosen by the The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

A tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales in the Music Room, one of the State Rooms open to the public as part of the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace. The centrepiece of the display is the desk at which The Princess worked in her sitting room at Kensington Palace, writing letters and reading official briefings and correspondence.
Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

www.royalcollection.org.uk

‘Op Art’

Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception, Compton Verney, until 1st October 2017

Blaze IV,
Bridget Riley,
© UK Government Art Collection © Bridget Riley 2017. All rights reserved

Regular readers of my blog may recall that in October 2015 I posted about a small but enjoyable exhibition Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat at the Courtauld Gallery and now in this large-scale show at Compton Verney this debt is re-visited and much expanded upon.

La Luzerne, Saint-Denis,
Georges Seurat,
© Scottish National Gallery

It reminds us that since the 19th century some artists have been fascinated by the way in which the eye sees optical illusions as it responds to visual stimuli and this point is well proven in this exhibition. Ninety diverse ‘Op Art’ works are featured in the show, including pieces by Victor Vasarely, Julio Le Parc, Jeffrey Steele, Jesus Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Peter Sedgley, Liliane Lijn and, of course, Bridget Riley and Seurat.

Our Spectral Vision,2016,
Liz West.
Photo (c) Hannah Devereux

Professor Steven Parissien, Director of Compton Verney sums it up: “Optical Art explores a range of effects and emotions, using complex geometry and advanced mathematics to communicate with the viewer in a way that is simultaneously mentally challenging and visually appealing. This wonderful exhibition demonstrates just how exhilarating, electrifying and (quite literally) eye-opening Op Art can be.”

The show is curated by Penelope Sexton and Dr Frances Follin and appropriately enough supported by Farrow & Ball.

Pulse 05,
White Earthenware, Underglaze colour, matt glaze, 2012.
Sara Moorhouse,
(c) Sara Moorhouse

http://www.comptonverney.org.uk

The Encounter!

THE ENCOUNTER: DRAWINGS FROM LEONARDO TO REMBRANDT, National Portrait Gallery, London, until 22nd October 2017

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

Giulio Pedrizzano, The Lutenist Mascheroni by Annibale Carracci c.1593-4
Copyright: Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

This delightful exhibition features old master European portrait drawings by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Durer and Rembrandt, many rarely seen and some not displayed for decades.

Young Woman in a French Hood, possibly Mary Zouch by Hans Holbein the Younger c.1533
Copyright: Royal Collection Trust Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

It attempts to show that the artist and the sitter connected and is rather like going through a Renaissance copy of Vanity Fair featuring as it does eight portraits of people from the court of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger – the David Bailey of his day – but also people from the street as well.

Sir John Godsalve by Hans Holbein the Younger c.1532-4
Copyright: Royal Collection Trust Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

An exhibition which cheers the soul with these close encounters.

A sheet of figure studies, with male heads and three sketches of a woman with a child by Rembrandt van Rijn c.1636
Copyright: The Henry Barber Trust, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

 

http://www.npg.org.uk/