Our pick of this week's art events: 23 - 29 May
By Sam Phillips
Published 23 May 2014
From Lucian Freud’s superb collection of Frank Auerbach works to a survey of recent American abstract art.
Richard Long RA, Ai Weiwei
Lisson Gallery, London until 12 July 2014 (Richard Long RA) and 19 July 2014 (Ai Weiwei)
London’s Lisson Gallery presents two heavyweights of contemporary art in their two exhibition spaces in Edgware Road from today: Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei – an Honorary Royal Academician – and British sculptor Richard Long RA.
The latter’s Land Art was shown by Lisson in the gallery’s early days in the 1970s, so this show of standing stones of Cornwall slate, expressive walk works made from mud, text pieces and landscape photographs represent something of a homecoming for the Academician. Ai Weiwei’s work, in contrast, takes us back to the man-made world, with new installations of conjoined bicycle parts and casts of objects from a gas mask to coat hangers.
Gustav Metzger: Lift Off
Kettle's Yard, Cambridge 24 May – 31 August 2014
The subject of a new exhibition in Kettle’s Yard, Gustav Metzger has since the 1960s pioneered auto-destructive and auto-creative art. The former is exemplified by his ‘paintings’ of hydrochloric acid on nylon, the chemical’s destruction of the cloth highly expressive; the latter is exemplified by his Liquid Crystal Environment (1965/2005), a centrepiece of this Cambridge show in which heated crystals, once projected on screens, produce ever-enveloping aesthetic effects for the audience.
Abstract America Today
Saatchi Gallery, London 28 May – 28 September 2014
Abstract America Today at the Saatchi Gallery comes eight years after USA Today, an exhibition at the Royal Academy in which Charles Saatchi’s acquisitions of American artists were showcased to a wider audience. Some of the participants in that earlier exhibition – such as Mark Bradford and Dan Colen – have become major names in the commercial art world, so it will interesting to whether the diverse range of abstract artists in this current group show take a similar trajectory in the years ahead.
Manchester Art Gallery, 17 May 2014 –10 August 2014
Lucian Freud’s superb collection of oils and works on paper by the artist Frank Auerbach have gone on show in a free exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. Accepted by the nation in lieu of tax on Freud's estate, this body of work includes emblematic works by one of our finest contemporary painters, including his 1962 scene of London’s Leicester Square as a building site, rendered in high-impasto semi-abstract smears of red, orange, ochre and grey.
Phyllida Barlow RA: Fifty Years of Drawings
Hauser & Wirth, London, until 26 July 2014
And anyone blown-away by sculptor Phyllida Barlow’s monumental installations at Tate Britain – discussed in Tara Contractor’s recent blog – will be interested to see her colourful drawings at London’s Hauser & Wirth. As well as being enjoyable to the eye today, these juxtapositions of abstract forms act, at times, as records of the Academician's early sculptures that have since been destroyed.