If you’re stuck on what to do on a warm/wet summers day exhibitions can be the best place to cool down/dry off. We’ve put together a short list of a range of current and near future exhibitions that are definitely worth a visit.
Giacometti at Tate Modern
Until 10 September 2017
First on the list is a current exhibition at Tate Modern. The gallery is in the perfect position on the riverside between rooftop and outside bars so there’s not really any excuse not to visit. But incase you need more convincing the exhibition on at the moment brings the work of the sculptor, painter and draughtsman Giacometti. The exhibition brings together over 250 pieces, including his iconic bronze sculptures.
This is one to look out for towards the end of summer, but it should be worth the wait. Whiteread was the first woman to win the Turner prize in 1993 and has continued to make interesting pieces since. She is a hands on artist using a variety of industrial materials, such as plaster, concrete and metal. She works with objects and surfaces to create sculptures that mimic our surroundings and objects we see everyday. We looked closely at Whiteread’s ‘Water Tower 1998’ within our Masters study. She has a very interesting and experimental approach to exploring and working on her sculptures which make the process not only the final piece worth a look.
Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! at The Serpentine Gallery
Until 10 Sep 2017
Grayson Perry has risen in fame due to his televised art work, his presence within the experimental art world and his commentary on society and culture. This exhibition at the Serpentine gallery brings together pieces of his work that explore themes that are relevant to all of us. Worth a visit if his documentaries have captured your attention.
An exhibition showcasing some of the varying uses that plywood has had in the design world. From chairs to planes and trains, the exhibition shows what the flexibility of the material that is now just an everyday material. From the website: “Featuring groundbreaking pieces by Alvar Aalto, Marcel Breuer and Charles and Ray Eames, alongside an incredible range of objects from planes to skateboards, this exhibition tells the story of how this often-overlooked material made the modern world.”
Moving from art to furniture design we come to a fashion exhibition. This exhibition holds over a 100 pieces from the designer Cristóbal Balenciaga and his team of apprentices. It looks into how the influential designs have shaped modern fashion which in turn has its influence on all other aspects of design.
One of the current exhibitions at the Tate Modern is a large retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg’s 6o year career as an artist. Through 11 gallery spaces you are shown the journey of his work from his early experimentation to his late work with all the seemingly random and continuously experimental work in-between.
We went to visit it and so wanted to let you know what we thought. This is written with two people opinions. Beth’s (B) who is the designer and artist behind Bethvictoria.com and Paul (P) a lover of art and design but with a business background. We thought it would be interesting to see the two opinions formed from the pieces.
The first two pieces are found in the first, ‘Experimentation’ room of the exhibition. This room shows the work he created within Black Mountain College where he took classes in the fine arts and the initial works he created during his marriage to Susan Weil. ‘Experimentation’ shows various materials he worked with from light sensitive paper to a car, paint and paper.
About: Created with the help of composer John Cage and his Model A Ford. The piece challenges the idea of art and authorship.
What we thought
B: A simplistic idea and kind of print. For me it shows the trace that we leave. Even the simple day to day things that we do, like driving a car, change the world around us and leave a print. A comment on society.
P: I like this for its simplicity, but technically this probably isn’t as straightforward as one might think. Keeping all the sheets of paper accurately juxtaposed achieving a smooth substrate to minimise counter-imprints from under the paper, and ensuring the tire was loaded with sufficient paint to get the consistency of impression over what looks like to revolutions of the car wheel, would have been challenges to overcome.
About: Part of a body of work named Black Paintings created to test the boundaries of abstraction in the 50s. Untitled, 1951, created whilst he was studying, uses layers of newspaper and dense black paint to create a textured and glossy painting.
What we thought
B: The texture of the newspaper isn’t obvious until you get closer to this piece. That’s what I find interesting about this piece. From far away it just looks like black canvas but when you get closer you see that there’s texture and movement with how the light plays on the glossy paint. If you don’t look at it properly you don’t see the detail and it doesn’t make sense.
P: This is moody. The exhibition lighting could, to my mind, have created more atmosphere. Rauschenberg probably approached this from an experimental angle and discovered an abstraction of form and colour that worked. The proportions are comfortable to the eye and I like the emphasis that is given to the abutment of the varying width canvases that make up the whole.
In room three of the exhibition you find the ‘Combines’. Combining materials, objects and processes to create works that he said became ‘awkward physically’. Using mostly found objects which he put on canvas and then enhanced with abstract paint marks. The combines were made in his studio, live on stage and also some grew with their time in exhibition via viewer participation.
About: Not being able to afford canvas Rauschenberg decided to use his quilt, sheet and pillow for this piece. When it was first viewed it was considered a threatening piece, Rauschenberg said that he did not mean for it it be harsh.
What we thought
B: I wouldn’t say it looks cozy. But I do relate to it. To me its the boundary between being awake and dreaming. The cover at the bottom and pillow at the top are practically untouched – the real uniform world we are in when we are awake. And the part where you would slip under the cover is messy and colourful – the explosion of your ideas and imagination that comes when you are asleep and dreaming.
P: Not a lot to say about this other than I think it is great. I particularly like the almost ‘impressionist’ colour spectrum that is created around the fold of the quilt.
About: Originally this was a piece that the audience could participate in. The four clipboards on the canvas were for viewers to put their own pieces of art/notes or doodles into the work. The box contained objects and people were encouraged to take one in exchange for an object of their own. (This was stopped when in one exhibition the objects were taken and not replaced)
What we thought
B: The idea of being able to add to and interact with this piece is really great. I love the idea that Rauschenberg took his recognition and allowed other people to get involved with it. Collaborating with everyone and getting everyone involved in making art.
P: I would love to know if Rauschenberg took an interest in how the contents of the box changed over time. Keeping snapshots of the ever-changing range of items, with the common theme of having been ‘swapped in’ might have been the basis for more follow-on work perhaps.
Silkscreens (Room 5) were a key part in Rauschenberg’s recognition as an artist, being the key to his breakthrough in 1963. Rauschenberg was working on these at the same time as Warhol. He started using his own imagery then he developed to using colour and more recognisable found imagery, touching on the subjects of politics, science and sport. Once his silkscreens had been recognised and shown within galleries he immediately destroyed the tools needed to make any more, removing any possibility of the ease to just repeat himself.
About: Almanac was one of his first screen prints and doesn’t hold any real meaning. It is just an exploration of the combination of imagery, strokes and textures.
What we thought
B: Unlike Warhol, Rauschenberg’s screen prints aren’t concerned with the celebrity. They are, as with his other work, experimental and show working. It doesn’t tell you what it is or how you should think about it – you decide for yourself.
P: At first, this piece creates an internal struggle in the observer as it appears chaotic (Tate calls it ‘poetic’ – I’m not so sure). But as one deciphers the images that have been screen printed and the brush work that is added for emphasis, one is taken on a journey of one’s own making. The piece becomes something different to each observer.
Room 11 shows Rauschenberg’s late works. He had a keen interest in using the latest technology in photography to produce large scale works. He continued to make work until his death in 2008. They continued to be collaborative and experimental. Questioning the idea of art and ownership and the development in technology, media and culture.
About: Mirthday Man was made on Rauschenberg’s 72nd birthday. It includes an x-ray of himself, clippings from art history and imagery from his travels.
What we thought
B: From the exhibition it seemed that Rauschenberg after time creating less colourful box, B&W photographs and installations went back to this type of work that is similar to his screen prints but with modern techniques. I just love that even on his 72nd birthday and for ten more years he was creating such interesting works.
P: It seems a random combination of images, but it isn’t. I imagine the artist anguishing over the arrangement of colour, shape and topic, either to give some order to it all, or to intentionally create disharmony. This is a piece one can look at for hours and see different things and think different things.
So, that’s what we thought about it. The exhibition is open till 2 April 2017 so get down to Tate to see it for yourself!
There are as usual a tonne of different exhibitions on this summer in London. We’ve chosen 5 that we are interested in and will let you know some more we find later!
1 -Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century
“A major retrospective of the work of American photographer and film maker, Paul Strand (1890-1976), and the first in the UK since the artist’s death. Strand was one of the greatest and most influential photographers of the 20th century whose images have defined the way fine art and documentary photography is understood and practiced today.”
Look out for a review on this one coming up!
19th March – 3rd July at the V&A
2 – Performing for the Camera
A exhibition exploring the relationship between photography and performance. “What does it mean to perform for the camera?” An interesting exhibition that makes us think what does it mean to be yourself in front a camera, we are so used to cameras being constantly on us do we ever act ourselves or are we always performing?
Now – 12th June at Tate Modern
3- Conceptual Art in Britain 1964–1979
“In the 1960s artists began to abandon traditional approaches and made ideas the essence of their work. This fascinating exhibition explores this pivotal period in British history, which changed the way we think about art to this day. It gathers together artists who took art beyond its traditional boundaries to suggest new ways of engaging with the realities of the world beyond the studio, which ultimately led to a questioning of the function and social purpose of art.”
12th April – 29th August at Tate Britain
4- Painting with Light
Art and photography from Pre-Raphaelites to the modern age.
“Spanning 75 years across the Victorian and Edwardian ages, the exhibition opens with the experimental beginnings of photography in dialogue with painters such as J.M.W. Turner and concludes with its flowering as an independent international art form.”
11 May – 25th September at Tate Britain
5 – David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life
This exhibition explores Hockney’s return to portraiture from his work with landscapes. The portraits are of a range of sitters from family to colleagues.
Here are some of the upcoming and current exhibitions in London that you should check out.
1 – Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty opening the 14th March at The Victoria and Albert Museum.
“Celebrating the extraordinary creative talent of one of the most innovative designers of recent times, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty will be the first and largest retrospective of McQueen’s work to be presented in Europe.”
A look into the work of Alexander McQueen, with LFW it is the perfect time to take a look at the renowned designer.
2 – Salt and Silver: Early photography 1840 – 1860. Opened yesterday at The Tate Britain.
A look at one of the earliest forms of photography, salted paper prints. Featuring work by William Henry Fox Talbot who is thought to have found this process in 1839. These rare and fragile prints were the first stepping stone to the technological photography we know and use today.
3 – Guy Bourdin: Image Maker open now, at Somerset House.
A look at the works of fashion designer Guy Bourdin taken between 1955 and 1987. The exhibition hosts over 100 colour prints that show the distinct style of fashion photography that Bourdin brought to the genre. In this exhibition you will also see some of his black and white works that are a contrast to colour that is his reputation.
4 – Conflict, Time, Photography. Open now at The Tate Modern.
An exhibition that focuses on time and how it passes in the world of conflict. Looking at over 150 years of conflict the exhibition takes you on a journey. Each piece is ordered in the duration of time from when the event happened and when the photograph was taken. You can be looking at photographs of different events that were taken 7 months afterwards, but that actually happened 50 years apart. With different events being shown multiple times at different stages of the exhibition.
5 – Designs of the Year 2015 at the Design Museum. Opening 25th March.
A celebration of design. Looking at work that “promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year”. With 6 categories (Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Graphics, Product and Transport) the show offers a wealth of design ideas and inspiration. Looking at what 2015 is set to offer us in many ways.