Category Archives: Royal Academy

Dali and Duchamp at the Royal Academy, London. Delirium and Delusions

An Art Lover’s Feast

Dali/Duchamp exhibition at the Royal Academy was an eye-opener. I had no idea Salvador Dali (1904-1989) and Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) were such great friends. I knew little about Duchamp’s work other than that he pioneered the display of ready made objects as works of art including his infamous Fountain – a urinal inscribed R. MUTT 1917  and had seen and admired The bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The large glass). it was interesting to see that early on he was a conventional representational artist.  Having teenage children at the height of the Surrealist craze I got to know Dali’s work and visited a fascinating exhibition of his work in Richmond, Virginia which included a jewelled beating heart.

The Persistence of Memory 1931

The strange thing for me about seeing the exhibition is that I saw the bent watches in the famous Dali painting The Persistence of Memory 1931 (not shown in this exhibition) as well as some artefacts by Jeff Coons,  in one of my delusions while in Critical Care following my heart attack last year.

Balloon Monkey (Blue) 2006-2013

Up to 80% of patients in Intensive Care suffer periods of delirium and I had several. My very caring consultant was concerned that the memory of some of my delusions might be upsetting but they gave me just the material I needed for the last chapter of my memoir Woman in a White Coat.

Lots of lobster souvenirs including chocolate ones

The exhibition included some interesting short videos as well as lots of works I hadn’t seen before.

 

I always enjoy wandering around the Royal Academy shop though I was easily able to resist the chocolate lobsters that referenced Dali’s lobster telephone.

Wouldn’t fancy holding THAT receiver!!

Jasper Johns at the Royal Academy, London

This shows just part of the collage

Since my heart attack and several days on a ventilator my memory for names – always poor – is much worse. When I booked for Jasper Johns’ ‘Something Resembling the Truth’ I confused him with Jackson Pollock, whose work I have come to like, especially following the Abstract Expressionist exhibition also at the Royal Academy.

I didn’t really know Jasper Johns’ work and now I’ve seen it I’m not impressed. The RA provides a very good audio guide free and his one-time assistant is full of praise and how important his work was.

I prefer this!!

 

I liked the image on the poster the RA used but thought the real thing – a collage of a physical broom, a hanging cup, with a brass frame and knives forks and spoons embedded in the brass frame just silly. I like lots of modern art but his work just doesn’t speak to me at all. And I prefer the real flag!!

Read all about me

 

 

Read my memoir Woman in a White Coat now on Amazon Kindle

 

Thumbs Up – the 4th Plinth, Trafalgar Square, London

David Shrigley’s Everything is good

Just now the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square has this enormous thumb by David Shrigley – the sign for Everything Is Good. Unveiled on September 29th 2016 the ten-meter high hand gives a thumbs up to London, Londoners and our Visitors.

T shirt and other Shrigley merchandise

 

I hadn’t noticed the hand until I saw this T shirt, mug, tote bag and badge in the Royal Academy shop. There hasn’t been an exhibition at the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery for a while and I don’t normally walk or look that way.

 

 

Charles Tunnicliffe in the Tennant Gallery; Woman in a White Coat coming soon

Covey Grey Partidges in the Snow

In a side room off the first floor at the Royal Academy next to the circular lift   is a delightful exhibition of Wild Life watercolours by Charles Tunnicliffe (1901-1979) in the Tennant Gallery.

If you walk up the staircase to the main exhibition on the first floor instead of using the lift you may miss the delightful exhibtions held in what was originally a drawing room created for Lady Cavendish. I hadn’t realised that the huge three-sided building that greets you when you walk through the gates of Burlington House is all one building, now home to five learned societies as well as the Royal Academy of ArtsSociety of Antiquaries of London;  Linnean Society; Geological Society; Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Geese and Mallow 1944

Tunnicliffe’s watercolours are delightful and a pleasant change from the ubiquitous wild life photographs.

His painting called Geese and Mallow is very reminiscent of Hokusai’s paintings of fowl.

Illustrations for the Ladybird Books – What to Look for in Summer

In his lifetime, after the market for fine prints collapsed in in 1929s, Tunnicliffe was better known for the use of his paintings  to illustrate Ladybird Books as well as cigarette cards and calendars.

More recently Ladybird Books have introduced a humorous series for adults dealing with modern problems such as Mid-Life Crisis, Dating and Mindfulness.

Yinka Shonibare in the Royal Academy Courtyard, London

Wind Sculpture VI

Great to see another of Yinka Shonibare’s large works – Wind Sculpture VI –  in the courtyard of the Royal Academy. There’s another near us in Victoria in Howick Place and there are others in Chicago and in the Yorkshire  Sculpture Park 

 

Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle (BBC Report)

A British-Nigerian artist, born in London in 1962, Yinka Shonibare and his family moved to Nigeria when he was three years old. His work explores cultural identity, colonialism and post-colonialism and  has been short-listed for the prestigious Turner Prize. His Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was chosen for display on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square,  facing the iconic Nelson’s column.

And interesting to see his television  interview at the Diaspora Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale.

I’m not  sure what Sir Joshua Reynolds, the first President of the Royal Academy,  would have thought of the gaily printed fabric scarf draped over the shoulder of his statue just next to Shonibare’s sculpture or how much of the works in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition he would have considered art at all!!

Matisse in the Studio at the Royal Academy, London

Matisse in the Studio exhibition open until November 12th 2017

Aren’t we Londoners lucky? Just one great exhibition after another.

I liked best the photographs of Matisse (1869-1954)  in his studio surrounded by the myriads of objects he had collected over a long life time.  Of the original objects on display I most liked the Moroccan table and the little ivory figurines from Africa. The enormous African masks were intriguing and terrifying.

Matisse surrounded by his collected objects
Set of Matisse drawings

I have mixed feelings about his paintings but I love his drawings. The shop had a collection of reproductions on sale – at £198 a bit outside my price range!!

Goodies in the Royal Academy shop

 

Lots of theme based artefacts in  the Royal Academy Shop  including jugs and cups based on Matisse’s collection.

 

 

America after the Fall, Royal Academy, London

Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic 1930

Another excellent exhibition at the Royal Academy. The poster shows Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic. I had never liked this painting that  I’d only seen in reproduction – glanced quickly and thought ‘What a miserable couple!’. In fact it’s of Grant Wood’s dentist and his sister, Nan. The house behind them is owned by the Dibble family. When you look carefully, Nan is quite pretty, with a gorgeous complexion so much better in the original painting.

Not much in the way of Abstract Expressionism, though there had just been a huge exhibition of those works. Just one Georgia O’Keefe – Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses. Grant Wood’s painting of three elderly women – Daughters of Revolution – struck terror – you could imagine them ruling their families and communities with a rod of iron!! There were a few painting reminiscent of German Expressionism – like Philip Evergood’s Dance Marathon and Reginald Marsh’s Twenty Cent Movie. Just one of those sad, evocative Edward Hopper paintings – Gas.

I hadn’t been sure I wanted to visit the exhibition but it was a lovely March day, spring flowers in planters outside many of the shops and the Cherry Trees in blossom and I’m so glad I went out that Sunday.

Not a large exhibition but varied and well worth the visit.

ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM – Pleasure and Pain

abstract-outside
Exhibition at the Royal Academy September 24th – January 2nd 2017

 

The pleasure was in huge rooms full of Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), most of which I hadn’t seen before and Rothko,  (1903-1970) panels in lovely bright colours – one from 1949 subtitled Violet, black, orange,  yellow on White and Red – and much more.

I was not surprised to find that two of the paintings by Arshile Gorky (1904-1948) were so like de Kooning’s (1904-1997) when I read that he was Kooning’s mentor.

Though I quite liked the large abstract sculptures in the courtyard outside, only one of the sculptures within the exhibition really excited me – Sky Cathedral Moon Garden + One by Louise Nevelson 1957-60. A large sculpture composed of turned and shaped wood, I found it mystical and entralling.

The pain was yet again tiny print on the labels so that to read them I had to walk up close to the wall. Since following my heart attack my exercise tolerance is limited, it was literally a pain having to walk nearly twice the distance to read them all. In my view, if an artist gives their work a title, even if Untitled, it is relevant and should be easy to find. bad mark, curator.

Cover from Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock 1952
Cover from Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock 1952

I always promise myself that I’m not going to buy one more art book. We have too many on our coffee table already.
But this one was irresistible. Not only is the colour reproduction excellent but the text is interesting and readable.

 

GORGEOUS GIORGIONE AT THE ROYAL ACADEMY

Giorgione at the Royal Academy
Giorgione at the Royal Academy

There has been a slew of exhibitions recently of major artists with either the artists they influenced or together with other artists making work at around the same time – such as the Botticelli and
Delacroix exhibitions.

This exhibition, In the Age of Giorgione, at the Royal Academy brings together paintings by artists working in Venice including  Giorgione (Giovanni Cariani 1477/8 – 1510) himself and other Renaissance masters such as Titian, Bellini, Lotto and del Plombo as well as by
Albrecht Durer.   I much preferred the Giorgione and  Durer portraits  to the rest. They speak to me in a way the others do not.

Little is know of Giorgione’s life, other than that at 23 he was already appreciated enough to be asked to paint the portraits of the Doge Agostino Barbarigo and of the condottiere Consalvo Ferrante.  Born in Castelfranco, he died at the early age of 33 – already extremely influential among his contemporaries.