Tag Archives: British Museum

Hokusai ‘Beyond the Great Wave’ at the British Museum

Beyond the Great Wave

A wonderful exhibition of Hokusai’s work, all the better for having seen the excellent documentary  ‘Hokusai from the British Museum’ beforehand. It was shown both at the British Museum and at a selection of cinemas as well as on BBC4 where it can be seen on iPlayer.

During his lifetime, Hokusai (1760-1849) adopted upwards of 20 different names. He adopted this last one – Hokusai – when he was 70, meaning ‘Old Man Crazy to Paint.’

Nichiren and Shichimen daimyojin

The exhibition shows his work from his old age and we are amazed at the quality of the line and colour. Before that, most of his work was reproduced as woodcuts and a video shows the consummate skill with which the finest of lines are carved. I particularly liked ‘The Gamecock and Hen’ painted 1826-1834.

And loved this gem showing his signature dragon as well as the deity Nichiren.

Cushions and other artefacts based on Hokusai prints

He made hundreds of little drawings – manga then meaning ‘random’, which show his wicked sense of humour.

Always a selection of interesting artefacts related to the current exhibition in the Grenville Room, the more exclusive shop on the right near the main entrance.
Josh found this Toilet Bowl Cleaner while surfing the web. Hokusai seemed to have been such a jokey person – I think he would have appreciated the humour!! Certainly, some of his drawings were quite racy.

If you can’t get to the British Museum, do watch the film ‘Hokusai from the British Museum’ on iPlayer.

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!!

 

Isnik Distortion

V&A Scarf

Years ago went to a fascinating course at the V&A where we took photos of objects from their permanent collection, transferred them to a computer, distorted them and printed the design onto fabric.

I have always loved the Isnik designs originating from the Ottoman Empire. Too accident prone to indulge in the real thing, I have a collection of British Museum artefacts – cups and dishes – from their exhibition of Isnik Art, as well as the wonderful catalogue that accompanied it.

Catalogues from art exhibitions are so irresistible!!

The Greville Room at the British Museum

Museum Artefacts
Museum Artefacts

The goodies in the museum’s big shops are for the hoi polloi – like you and me; those in the Greville Room are for the more discerning and the wealthier visitors.

Not sure any of those on this front table would be to my taste but there are some delicious smaller artefacts in the glass cases around the edges – beautifully carved wooden Netsuke, glass vases and beaded skulls – as well as Isnik ware, jackets and scarves – and much more.

Another Great London Museum – the V&A

The Inner Courtyard
The Inner Courtyard

I go to the V&A exhibitions often enough to be worth becoming a Friend. We always go early – as soon as it opens as 10am so we saw the fabulous Alexander McQueen exhibition when it was relatively uncrowded. It’s been so popular that the V&A is going to open for 24 hours on the final weekend.

The Victoria and Albert museum was established in 1952 after the Great Exhibition of 1851. Its aim ‘was to make works of art available to all, to educate working people and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. Profits from the Exhibition were used to establish The Museum of Manufactures, as it was initially known, and exhibits were purchased to form the basis of its collections.’

In 1857 it was renamed The South Kensington Museum. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the present building in 1899 and it was renamed The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Colonade at the British Museum.

Ionic Capitals at the British Museum
Ionic Capitals at the British Museum

Always find it difficult to remember which capital is which – Doric, Ionic or Corinthian and have to look it up in every time in Wikipedia. Here there are Ionic capitals on the fluted columns and a coffered ceiling.

I tried to Photoshop out the figure in a green t-shirt on the left but then decided it gives an impressions of scale – well that’s my shory anyway!!

Grumpy Lion

The Lion of Knidos
The Lion of Knidos About 350 BC

He’s allowed to be a bit grumpy –  the Great Court at the British Museum is a bit of a  comedown. The Lion of Knidos originally sat on a headland in Asia Minor (now Turkey)  facing the sea. Reflections from the coloured glass set in his eyes – now lost – may have been an aid to sailors navigating the treacherous coast.

He weighs about 6 tons and was carved from one piece of marble as a funerary ornament.

The hanging poster advertises A Night in the Museum.maybe try it when the family come to stay.

It’s a Fake

Not what it seems
Not what it seems

It looks like a London telephone box but it’s a British Museum construct, full of biscuits and sweets. Quite the best museum shop with a wide variety of artefacts relating to their excellent exhibitions. The signage in their exhibitions is always clear and legible. You don’t have to get close and peer at the labels, which are always situated near the exhibit – unlike the museums where you have to search around to find them and then can’t decide which title belongs to which!!.