Category Archives: Sculpture

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.

Artist and Empire at Tate Britain, London

Ruxshir, Potter of Agra 100 years old
Ruxshir, Potter of Agra 100 years old

What a fantastic, shaming, inspiring, huge exhibition.  So much to read; so much to think about.

At school in the 1940s and 50s, we had a pageant every Empire Day, May 24th – Queen Victoria’s Birthday. We celebrated the amount of pink colouring on our map of the world showing which countries or states were under British Rule, and we repeated that The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire. The prettiest girl would be Britannia, symbol of British values, complete with Neptune’s trident, lion and British Union Jack flag, while the rest of us would be dressed in various ‘native’ costumes and sing Rule Britannia  confirming that Britain rules the waves (hence the trident) and that we never never shall be slaves – though we did jolly well out of the slave trade in its heyday. Rebadged in1958 as Commonwealth DayEmpire Day was changed in 1977 to the second Monday in March.

The iconic portrait by the Austin artist Rodolf Swoboda shown in the Tate Britain poster was one of three portraits commissioned by Queen Victoria.  Though exhibited at the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in London in 1886 as ‘Genuine Artists’,  they are of prisoners in Agra gaol who were being rehabilitated by training in a variety of handicrafts. Ramlal, a 9-year old boy, (and what crime could a 9-year old have committed?) was a carpet weaver while Mohammed Hosein was a 26-year old coppersmith.

Paintings, photographs, cartoons, banners, sculptures, Benin bronzes and wood carvings – a lot to take in during one visit.

Bus Art – 2014 Year of the Bus Sculpture Trails

Bus
Westminster Bus by Jenny Leonard

In 2014, sculptures of Routemaster buses appeared on four walking rails across London.  They were on show  as part of the 2014 Year of the Bus. Many were auctioned for charity. This one by Jenny Leonard  is still on show in Victoria Street next to the Little Waitrose.  In 2015, The Year of the Bus will be celebrated with 100 one line poems inspired by London’s bus network.

Alexander Calder Performing Sculpture, Tate Modern

In the Turbine Hall
In the Turbine Hall

My impression of Alexander Calder was of mobiles rather like this Chef d’orchestre displayed in the Turbine Hall. I had never seen the ethereal mobiles on show in Room 8 – mobiles that move gently in the air movement generated by us.

Some Calder souvenirs
Some Calder souvenirs

Nor had I seen his fabulous wire sculptures, lit so that their shadows fall on the wall behind.

Lots of Calder souvenirs for sale – the most expensive in this display cabinet set against the back drop of St Paul’s Cathedral and the City of London.

Another Don’t Miss