“Chinese Nell” and friends!

Queer British Art 1861-1967, Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1, until 1st October 2017

Solomon, Simeon 1840-1905
Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene
1864
Watercolour on paper
330 x 381 mm
Tate. Purchased 1980


I have thought long and hard about this exhibition which marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act legislation in 1967 which meant partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales.

Paul Tanqueray (1905-1991)
Douglas Byng
1934
Vintage bromide print
239 x 193 mm
National Portrait Gallery
© Estate of Paul Tanqueray

Well done Tate Britain for its partnership with this year’s London Pride (Pride in London at Tate Britain, 2pm to 10pm 24th June). Given what still goes on in countries such as Chechnya we must be grateful for the passing of the act.

David Hockney
Life Painting for a Diploma
1962
Yageo Foundation
© Yageo Foundation

However, I do wonder, although admittedly progress has been made, how much things have really changed in our own multi-cultural society?  We know how differing faiths do not accept homosexuality as being right or acceptable.  Many families, whatever their ethnic background, struggle to accept a member of their family being gay. Gay people get homophobic abuse or are physically attacked for no reason other than they are “different”, even my partner and I have been hissed at in Westminster’s Edgware Road.

Angus McBean (1904-1990)
Quentin Crisp
1941
Bromide print
National Portrait Gallery (London, UK)
© Estate of Angus McBean / National Portrait Gallery, London

I recently saw a production of La Cage aux Folles at the Wimbledon Theatre.  I think the real time to celebrate acceptance and inclusion will be when LGBT people can say/sing the words from the show –

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses

– And know they don’t have to look over their shoulder. Impossible, or could we all work harder towards it?

John Craxton
Head of a Greek Sailor
1940
Oil on board
330 x 305 mm
London Borough of Camden
© Estate of John Craxton. All rights reserved, DACS 2016. Photo credit: London Borough of Camden

Among the exhibits in this somewhat politically correct exhibition is a monogrammed dressing gown that belonged to Noel Coward.  He was friends of Ian Fleming and his wife Ann and they both had houses on Jamaica.  In one of her letters Ann writes that Noel is referred to as “Chinese Nell” on the island *.  Need I say more?

Out
Keith Vaughan
Drawing of two men kissing
1958–73
Tate Archive
© DACS, The Estate of Keith Vaughan

 

*The Letters of Ann Fleming by Ann Fleming, Mark Amory (Editor), Collins Harvill, 1985

 

 

tate.org.uk

Hockney Celebrated!

David Hockney, Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1, until 29 May 2017

As I was unable to attend I asked John Kirkwood to go on my behalf – here are his thoughts:

Ossie Wearing a Fairisle Sweater 1970 Coloured pencil and crayon on paper 430 x 355 mm Private collection, London © David Hockney

Ossie Wearing a Fairisle Sweater
1970
Coloured pencil and crayon on paper
430 x 355 mm
Private collection, London
© David Hockney

This major retrospective of David Hockney to celebrate his eightieth birthday is a real trip through time as we go from his very earliest student drawings and sketches all the way through to his most recent work with iPads.

Garden 2015 Acrylic paint on canvas 1219 x 1828 mm Collection of the artist © David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

Garden
2015
Acrylic paint on canvas
1219 x 1828 mm
Collection of the artist
© David Hockney
Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

Hockney’s innovative and immediately recognisable style stands out in every room.  There are what one might call ‘the old favourites’ like his portraits of Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell with their cat Percy (1970-71 and Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy (1972) and of course A Bigger Splash (1967) which the curator amusingly described as ‘painting a splash by splashing paint’ but also photography and huge screens displaying The Wolds taking Hockney back to his home county.

Billy + Audrey Wilder Los Angeles April 1982 1982 Composite Polaroid 1117 x 1168 mm David Hockney Inc. (Los Angeles, USA) © David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

Billy + Audrey Wilder Los Angeles April 1982
1982
Composite Polaroid
1117 x 1168 mm
David Hockney Inc. (Los Angeles, USA)
© David Hockney
Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

There are even two new works  created specifically for the exhibition being unveiled of Hockney’s garden in Hollywood; Garden # 3 2016 and Two Pots on the Terrace 2016 which demonstrate that he has lost none of his magic and in so many ways has returned to his roots,

Domestic Scene, Los Angeles 1963 Oil paint on canvas 1530 x 1530 mm Private collection © David Hockney

Domestic Scene, Los Angeles
1963
Oil paint on canvas
1530 x 1530 mm
Private collection
© David Hockney

 

9 Canvas Study of the Grand Canyon 1998 Oil paint on nine canvases 1003 x 1689 mm Richard and Carolyn Dewey © David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

9 Canvas Study of the Grand Canyon
1998
Oil paint on nine canvases
1003 x 1689 mm
Richard and Carolyn Dewey
© David Hockney
Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

 

Going Up Garrowby Hill 2000 Oil paint on canvas 2133.6 x 1524 mm Private collection, Topanga, California © David Hockney

Going Up Garrowby Hill
2000
Oil paint on canvas
2133.6 x 1524 mm
Private collection, Topanga, California
© David Hockney

 

 

www.tate.org.uk/Hockney

Paul Nash

Paul Nash, Tate Britain, until 5th March 2017

Paul Nash 1889–1946 Equivalents for the Megaliths 1935 Oil on canvas support: 457 x 660 mm frame: 627 x 835 x 80 mm ©Tate

Paul Nash 1889–1946
Equivalents for the Megaliths
1935
Oil on canvas
support: 457 x 660 mm frame: 627 x 835 x 80 mm
©Tate

This is an extensive exhibition looking at the artistic journey of this important 20th century British artist from his early works right up until his final landscapes.  An important War Artist during the First World War he returned afterwards to depicting the coastal areas and landscapes of southern England reflecting his interest in Britain’s ancient places.

Paul Nash 1889–1946 Spring in the Trenches, Ridge Wood, 1917 1918 Imperial War Museum, London ©Tate

Paul Nash 1889–1946
Spring in the Trenches, Ridge Wood, 1917
1918
Imperial War Museum, London
©Tate

In the 1930s Nash used surrealist ideas in achieving these landscape images juxtaposing found objects with a landscape to produce an air of mystery and a dream-like quality. He also used photography in his work-practice and worked with Eileen Agar.

Paul Nash 1889-1946 Landscape from a Dream 1936-8 ©Tate

Paul Nash 1889-1946
Landscape from a Dream
1936-8
©Tate

Nash was one of the founders of the Unit One group of British modernist artists which included John Armstrong, Barbara Hepworth, Tristram Hillier, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Edward Wadsworth among their numbers and his contribution is explored alongside examples of other works from the group.

www.tate.org.uk

‘Gibson of Rome’

John Gibson RA: A British Sculptor in Rome, Tennant Gallery and Council Room, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1, until 18th December 2016

John Gibson, R.A. (1790-1866) Sleeping Shepherd Boy 1818 Bequeathed by John Gibson, R.A., 1866 Plaster 110.50 x 47.0 x 94.0 cm Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London

John Gibson, R.A. (1790-1866)
Sleeping Shepherd Boy
1818
Bequeathed by John Gibson, R.A., 1866
Plaster
110.50 x 47.0 x 94.0 cm
Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London

It is a hundred and fifty years since the death of John Gibson RA (1790-1866) who was a leading neoclassical sculptor of his time. He was born in the Welsh town of Conwy but when still a child moved with his family to Liverpool. He was enthralled by Ancient Greek and Roman Art from an early age and his artistic talent and enthusiasm was recognised by a group of supporters who raised the wherewithal for him to go on a study trip to Italy in 1817.

John Gibson, R.A. (1790-1866) Cupid pursuing Psyche Before 1843 Bequeathed by John Gibson, R.A., 1866 Marble relief 72.40 x 103.50 x 10.50 cm Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London

John Gibson, R.A. (1790-1866)
Cupid pursuing Psyche
Before 1843
Bequeathed by John Gibson, R.A., 1866
Marble relief
72.40 x 103.50 x 10.50 cm
Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London

In Rome he was able to study under the leading sculptor of the day, Antonio Canova and was urged by him to set up a studio in Rome.  Gibson did so and thanks to a European clientele decided to settle there saying: ‘In England my life would be spent in making busts and statues of great men in coats and neckties; here I am employed upon poetical subjects which demand the exercise of the imagination, and the knowledge of the beautiful.’.  His sculptures were also popular in this country where he was known as ‘Gibson of Rome’ and by 1844 (the year of his first return visit) he counted the Queen and Prince Albert among his patrons. In 1836 he was elected as a Royal Academician.

Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A. (1802-1873) Portrait of John Gibson, R.A. ca.1850 Bequeathed by Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., 1874 92.50 x 72.0 x 2.50 cm Oil on canvas Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London; Photographer: John Hammond

Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A. (1802-1873)
Portrait of John Gibson, R.A.
ca.1850
Bequeathed by Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., 1874
92.50 x 72.0 x 2.50 cm
Oil on canvas
Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London; Photographer: John Hammond

He had bequeathed his artworks to the Royal Academy on his death in 1866 and works on show in this exhibition and others on display at Bodelwyddan Castle, Denbighshire, Wales are part of this significant bequest.

John Gibson, R.A. (1790-1866) Monument to Lady Leicester: Angel carrying infant and leading mother to heaven ca.1844 Bequeathed by John Gibson, R.A., 1866 Plaster cast 181.0 x 126.50 x 18.0 cm Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London

John Gibson, R.A. (1790-1866)
Monument to Lady Leicester: Angel carrying infant and leading mother to heaven
ca.1844
Bequeathed by John Gibson, R.A., 1866
Plaster cast
181.0 x 126.50 x 18.0 cm
Photo credit: (c) Royal Academy of Arts, London

This exhibition is complemented by a virtual exhibition ‘The Gibson Trail’ which has images and information on over one hundred and fifty objects in the collections of the Royal Academy, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Britain, the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, the National Portrait Gallery and Buckingham Palace. The website www.gibson-trail.uk includes an interactive map showing the locations of Gibson’s works in the capital.

The Tennant Gallery and Council Room Dates and Opening Hours Exhibition open to the public: 8 September – 18 December 2016 Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm Saturday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm Closed Monday

 www.royalacademy.org.uk

Auerbach – Tate Britain and Marlborough Fine Art

Frank Auerbach, Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1, until 13th March 2016 

Frank Auerbach (b 1931) Mornington Crescent 1965 Painting Oil paint on board 1016 x 1270 mm Private collection, courtesy of Eykyn Maclean, LP © Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

Frank Auerbach (b 1931)
Mornington Crescent 1965
Painting
Oil paint on board
1016 x 1270 mm
Private collection, courtesy of Eykyn Maclean, LP
© Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

The Berlin-born, artist Frank Auerbach can certainly not be accused of taking it easy in this his 85th year as he paints three hundred and sixty five days a year. He is an assiduous painter returning to his canvas time and time again to scrape away and restart the work whether landscape or portrait until the image he seeks falls into place. The works are a highly individual complex of texture, depth and a sense of space.

Frank Auerbach (b 1931) E.O.W. half-length Nude 1958 Oil paint on board 762 x 508 mm Private collection, courtesy of Eykyn Maclean, LP © Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

Frank Auerbach (b 1931)
E.O.W. half-length Nude 1958
Oil paint on board
762 x 508 mm
Private collection, courtesy of Eykyn Maclean, LP
© Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

The seventy paintings and drawings on view have been mainly garnered from private collections and provide an overview of his work from the 1950s to the present day. On the wall of the first gallery he says: ‘My hope is that items might not be considered too relatively – that is, not over-chronologically, stylistically or by subject or context – but that each be considered as an absolute which works (or does not work) by itself.’

Hampstead Road, Summer Haze 2010 Oil paint on canvas 1222 x 1222 mm Private collection © Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

Hampstead Road, Summer Haze
2010
Oil paint on canvas
1222 x 1222 mm
Private collection
© Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

The best I can add to that is please go and decide for yourself as I don’t think you will regret the experience.

 

http://www.tate.org.uk

 

 

 

It would be wrong of me to write about Auerbach without drawing your attention to

 

Frank Auerbach, Marlborough Fine Art, 6 Albemarle Street London W1, until 21st November 2015

Self-Portrait 2015 Graphite and pastel on paper 57.8 x 76.5 cm © Frank Auerbach and courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

Self-Portrait
2015
Graphite and pastel on paper
57.8 x 76.5 cm
© Frank Auerbach and courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

Like the Tate Britain exhibition this surveys his career to date and among the twenty-five works on show are some that have never been exhibited before.  There is also a new self-portrait by the artist which is shown here.

 

http://www.marlboroughfineart.com

 

Turner in Salisbury

Turner’s Wessex – Architecture and Ambition, The Salisbury Museum, The King’s House, 65 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EN, until 27th September 2015

Salisbury from Old Sarum c.1827-1828 Watercolour JMW Turner © The Salisbury Museum

Salisbury from Old Sarum c.1827-1828 Watercolour JMW Turner
© The Salisbury Museum

This hugely enjoyable exhibition serves as a timely reminder that there are some very fine exhibitions to be found outside London. Combine Salisbury and the young J MW Turner and the results are quite magical. As well as works from the Museum’s own collection there are loans from Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, British Museum, Fitzwilliam Museum, National Galleries Scotland, V & A, Whitworth Art Gallery and the Tate.

A series of watercolours, executed between 1797 and 1805, depicting both the Cathedral and City were commissioned by Sir Richard Colt Hoare and the eight large ones of the cathedral which used to hang in the library of Colt Hoare’s family home Stourhead are reunited for the first time since their sale in 1883. There are also some studies of the famous Stourhead gardens too.

North Porch of Salisbury Cathedral, Exhibited RA 1797 Watercolour JMW Turner © The Salisbury Museum

North Porch of Salisbury Cathedral, Exhibited RA 1797 Watercolour JMW Turner
© The Salisbury Museum

Another Wiltshire landowner was William Beckford and his commission for Turner to depict his Fonthill estate was also a feather in Turner’s cap. The sketches he created provide a fascinating glimpse into the erection of the famous Fonthill tower which would collapse in 1825.

Stonehenge c.1827-29 Watercolour JMW Turner © The Salisbury Museum

Stonehenge c.1827-29 Watercolour JMW Turner
© The Salisbury Museum

Turner’s first visit to Salisbury was in 1795 and he would return to the area occasionally over the next thirty years – to Stonehenge as well as to the Isle of Wight and the southern coast – and these visits are recorded in the last section of an exhibition I have no hesitation in recommending.

http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk

Kenneth Clark: Looking for Civilisation, Tate Britain

Kenneth Clark: Looking for Civilisation, Tate Britain, until 10th August 2014

Installation view at Tate Britain Tate Photography With: Duncan Grant  Rug c.1932 Three‑Fold Screen c.1930 Wedgwood creamware jug incorporating a childhood portrait of Alan Clark 1932 Wedgwood creamware jug incorporating portraits of Kenneth and Jane Clark 1932 Private Collection  and a selection of other works.

Installation view at Tate Britain
Tate Photography
With:
Duncan Grant
Rug c.1932
Three‑Fold Screen c.1930
Wedgwood creamware jug incorporating a childhood portrait of Alan Clark 1932
Wedgwood creamware jug incorporating portraits of Kenneth and Jane Clark 1932
Private Collection
and a selection of other works.

This is a fascinating exhibition which shows the effect one man had on shaping the course of British Art. Many of you will remember the brilliant landmark series Civilisation 1969, which has influenced arts documentary-making to this day. He certainly believed that art should be accessible to all.

Leonardo da Vinci A Deluge c. 1517-18 Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Leonardo da Vinci
A Deluge c. 1517-18
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Clark (1903–1983) was Keeper of the Department of Fine Art at the Ashmolean Museum; Surveyor of the King’s Pictures and at the age of thirty he also became the National Gallery’s youngest Director. He was a patron of and supporter of contemporary British Art such as the Euston Road School and when war broke out in 1939 his private patronage became through various initiatives a project of the State and he employed artists such as Graham Sutherland, John Piper and Henry Moore to record the effect of war on the country and its citizens. As a result of his enthusiasm and influence art became a more recognisable part of British life in the ensuing decades. Certainly his various television appearances, including the aforementioned Civilisation, also helped.

John Piper Seaton Delaval 1941 Tate

John Piper
Seaton Delaval 1941
Tate

The exhibition also reveals Clark’s own eclectic tastes in the fine and decorative arts and includes a selection of works drawn from both Eastern and Western disciplines that he collected for his personal enjoyment and appreciation in his homes.

Francisco de Zurbaran A cup of Water and a Rose © The National Gallery, London

Francisco de Zurbaran
A cup of Water and a Rose
© The National Gallery, London

I found this exhibition a delight and warmly recommend it to you all.

 

Graham Sutherland Midsummer Landscape 1940 © Estate of Graham Sutherland © Birmingham Museums Trust

Graham Sutherland
Midsummer Landscape 1940
© Estate of Graham Sutherland
© Birmingham Museums Trust

http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-britain