Category Archives: Sculpture

Rachel Whiteread at Tate Britain, London

Rachel Whiteread in front of her House 1993

I’ve liked Rachel Whiteread’s work ever since I saw her House in Bethnal Green and though I don’t care for the insides of rubber hot water bottles shown on the Tate Britain poster I pretty much liked everything else in her exhibition.

Untitled Hive II Resin 2007-8

 

I think this resin hive was my favourite though I found it hard to choose. I loved the way the light was reflected inside it.

It made me want to crawl inside.

 

 

The 4th Plinth again in Trafalgar Square 1999 Plaster and Resin

I’d forgotten that Rachel Whiteread’s Untitled Monument 2001 was the third project to be placed on Trafalgar Square’s 4th plinth.

The first project in 1999 was Mark Wallinger’s Ecce Homo, a life sized figure of Christ and the 2nd was Bill Woodrow’s Regardless of History 2000  which is a head crushed between a book and the roots of a tree.

You can read my memoir Woman in a White Coat on Amazon Kindle as well as Google, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks.

Email me on mailto:abby@abbyjw.com and I will send the first responders a free copy to review.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Giacometti at Tate Modern

The long thin sculptures we associate with Giacometti

Another interesting retrospective of Giacometti’s work, though I preferred the exhibition of his portraits at the National Portrait gallery with lots more paintings and a broader view of his oeuvre. You can’t get very close to his small elongated sculptures and from the distance you are kept from them it’s hard to distinguish one from another

Most of the exhibits were sculptures – a surprising number of lifelike  heads in the multitude in Room 1, as well as some of his signature long thin sculptures. Once again I was frustrated by having the titles of everything so far from the objects.

The enormous double life-size sculptures in the last room were amazing but one of the best things in the exhibition was the film about him, showing the amazing care with which his clay figurines were made – his hands darting rapidly from eyes, to crown and to mouth, modelling with fingers, knives or modelling tools.

The Giacometti posters against a backdrop of the River Thames and St Paul’s

For some reason, the coffee on the exhibition floor is always better than that in the downstairs café and the view from the balcony of the 3rd exhibition floor is stunning.

 

Always lots of merchandising!!

Looking around gallery shops is always a pleasure, though we might buy a couple of things for the grandchildren, rarely for ourselves. We have accumulated too many things!!

 

Ashley Bickerton – Damien Hurst does it again

 

Orange Shark (2008)

Ashley Bickerton’s Ornamental Hysteria is another brilliant exhibition in Damien Hurst’s gallery in Newport Street. Like the previous exhibition of his own Jeff Koons artefacts, the exhibition extends over two floors.

Born in Barbados in 1959, he has moved around the world ending up in New York in 1982.

Flower Pot (2009)

It’s hard to choose which of his work I liked best. This sculpture of colourful flowers growing out of skulls is certainly high on my list. The texture and colour of the stone container are gorgeous. The painting behind is Red Scooter (2009) a joyous vision of a family and their dog riding a red scooter on the beach.

Canoe, shark, woman (2016)

Love this sculpture of a woman balancing on a pile of coconuts and holding another hammer-head shark .

The serene painting on the wall behind is K.T._K.T (2015).

I must go again!!

Gothenburg’s Konstmuseum – Museum of Art

'Beggar' by Giacomo Ceruti 1698-1767
‘Beggar’ by Giacomo Ceruti 1698-1767

For us, no visit to a city is complete without going shopping and exploring at least one art museum.

The Konstmuseum at Gothenburg, a stark edifice on the outside, had two exhibitions – Watched – Surveillance, Art and Photography’ an exhibition of photographs that explored the extent to which we are all subject to surveillance and  included a hologram of a woman who spoke greetings in several different languages. and Gränslöst Unbounded. The Eighteenth century Mirrored by the Present, an exhibition giving the modern take on 18th century art.  There are also several floors of their permanent collection of Scandinavian artists and a room of impressionist pictures we were unfamiliar with.

18th Century porcelain
18th Century porcelain
Porcelain figure by Christin-Pontus Anderson
Porcelain figure by Christin-Pontus Anderson

Eighteenth century porcelain amazed us with its detail. I tried to imagine what it would have like working often under poor lighting with a soft material that would flow this way and than and maybe all for a pittance.

There were unsettling modern porcelain figures by Christian-Pontus Andersson, so different from the delicate waif-like ballet dancers of Degas , especially his Little Dancer of Fourteen Years. 

Equally unsettling were the few included photographs including the selfie of the obese Ilu Susiraja, Re-Animate Me by Tobias Bernstrup, and Volcanoes by Frida Fjellman.

HISTORY OF ART AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY, LONDON

First lecture in Module 3
First lecture in Module 3

I had been to lectures in the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery on upcoming exhibitions but it wasn’t until I looked through their Spring What’s On that I discovered these brilliant lectures on the History of Art. I’d unfortunately missed the first two modules but the first on of this term’s module 3 was fantastic. The tutor, Lucrezia Walker, first pointed out the main differences between the rather static, formal Renaissance art and that of the Baroque period using Bernini’s sculptures as illustrations.

Self-portrait
Caravaggio Self-portrait

She then went on to discuss Caravaggio’s work in depth – his time in Rome, his flight to Naples and then on to Malta only to die while attempting to return to Italy.

I’m not sure what I expected from his self portrait – perhaps more of a bully0boy in keeping with his reputation as a brawler and out-spoken difficult man. I hadn’t realised that at the time some of his works were considered too sacrilegious and that he had to repaint them.

One of his paintings of an appealing young boy with ever so slightly damaged fruit
One of his paintings of an appealing young boy with ever so slightly damaged fruit

 

He certainly admired young boys, whether only as models for him, and painted them as luscious objects. His meticulous baskets of fruit are tongue-in-cheek with evidence of decay and dissolution for the close observer.

 

 

YINKA SHONIBARE’S WIND SCULPTURE IN HOWICK PLACE SW1

Yinka Shonibare's Wind Sculpture in Howick Place
Yinka Shonibare’s Wind Sculpture in Howick Place

I came across Yinka Shonibare’s exciting Wind Sculpture while wandering around Westminster but could find no name plate or reference to it on the surrounding buildings in Howick Place. Looking up something quite different in Victoria I came across this reference to Shonibare’s Wind Sculpture.

Yinka Shonibare says he first thought of the idea while making his Ship in a Bottle which stood on the Fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square and now has a permanent home outside the Maritime Museum Greenwich.  HIs Wind Sculpture, commissioned by the architects Doughty Hanson & Co, was unveiled two years ago in April 2014.

Shonibare MBE, a British-Nigerian artist, was born in London but moved to Lagos in Nigeria with when he was three, returning to London to study art. His piece has resonance in Howick Place which was named after Viscount Howick one of the architects of major British reforms such as The Reform Act 1832, Catholic Relief Act 1829 and Abolition of Slavery in the British Empire. 1833.

 

HIGHLIGHT TOURS OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM

The Great Court opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000
The Great Court opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

Not free, but very good value at £12, the British Museum runs 90 minute Highlight Tours of some of the most well-known of its millions of artefacts from all over the world including the Rosetta Stone, the Lewis Chessmen, the enormous Easter Island basalt statue known as Hoa Hakanai’a, the fabulous human-headed winged bulls from Assyria and much more.

Kind Ramesses II about 1279-1213 BC
Kind Ramesses II about 1279-1213 BC

For me, the British Museum has above all been about the wonderful sculptures and wall paintings from ancient Egypt – though as a child the mummies in their sarcophagi used to terrify me. The Pharaohs may have been cruel and incestuous and probably quite ugly to boot,  but their statues and masks  speak of a transcendent serenity.