Wednesday 6 February 2013

Art Shows in London 2013

Tennis court in Bologna
Giorgio Morandi: Lines of Poetry
Estorick Collection to 7 April 2013
39a Canonbury Square, 
London N1
Open Wed-Sat, closed Sun-Tues
Etchings by Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964). Morandi lived quietly with his mother and sisters in Bologna, sleeping in his cluttered studio. Once a year the family would visit Grizzana, in the mountains, where Morandi would draw and paint from nature. In his landscapes, the buildings are plain and functional, forming quiet, lonely, enigmatic groups. But he mainly devoted his life to painting, drawing and making prints of collections of cups, bottles, tins and pots. They are grouped or huddled together, like actors on a stage, or the crowds in works of religious art. Depicted in subdued colours or in monochrome, they have a functional and industrial beauty. Oil cans, oil lamps, boxes, ink bottles, wine bottles, cruets, mugs, biscuit tins, hot water jugs – they survived fashion. Some of them are even classical forms recreated in tinplate. (A modern Morandi might paint plastic ketchup bottles.) In his etchings (he taught himself the technique by reading books on Rembrandt) he used  painstaking hatching and cross-hatching (networks of slanting parallel lines) to build up a strange, shadowy, windless world.

Man Ray
National Portrait Gallery, London
Ends 27 May

Man Ray (1890-1976) was an American who lived in Paris, contributing to the Surrealist movement and experimenting with photography. His father was a tailor, and  mannequins and flat irons turn up in his art. His photographs of beautiful women helped to create the 20s “look”.

Schwitters in Britain
Tate Britain, London
To 12 May
Kurt Schwitters was a German artist involved in the playful Dada movement. He made collages that he called “Merz”, using scraps of ephemera from everyday life including tickets and advertisements. Labelled “degenerate” by the Nazis, he fled to Norway and then England, where he settled in Ambleside. He continued to produce art, creating a collage mural in a barn and painting portraits and landscapes. Was he the first Pop artist?

Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life
Tate Britain
26 June-20 Oct

Promises to “reappraise” Lowry as a painter of the industrial city. “Next summer will also see the full reopening of Tate Britain, with rehung collection displays presenting the full breath of British art in chronological order.”

London’s Post-War Art Scene
Borough Road Gallery, 103 Borough Road, London, SE1
Open afternoons, Wed-Sat
To 23 March

Portraits, cityscapes and figure paintings 1946-1951 by David Bomberg and the Borough Group: Cliff Holden, Edna Mann, Dorothy Mead (see pic), Dennis Creffield, Miles Richmond. Muddy colours (khaki, airforce blue), post-Vorticism, bombed buildings. Lovely stuff. It's a small show but worth making the trip to the South Bank University. Sadly there's no catalogue or postcards to buy. These painters, who recorded their damaged city, are due a revival. They did wonders with thick, dark charcoal and thick paint sometimes with added sand. Paintings are worked over so that the visible layer has the tyre tracks of earlier versions. Brush-strokes are traces of passion, strength and energy. Miles Richmond impresses particularly.

Ice Age Art: Arrival of the Modern Mind
British Museum, London
7 February-26 May

Timed tickets must be booked in advance
Never mind the patronising subtitle (Ancient people become US! Lucky them!), the art – animals and human figures carved from and into reindeer antlers and mammoth ivory - is going to be amazing.

Life and Death: Pompeii and Herculaneum
British Museum
28 March-29 September 2013

Paintings, jewellery, portraits, sculpture and artefacts from the Roman city buried by a volcanic eruption in AD79 – including a carbonized loaf of bread and little girl’s charm bracelet.

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