Our pick this week’s art events: 4 - 10 July
By Sam Phillips
Published 4 July 2014
From a showcase of Mayfair galleries to the blurred lines of painting and photography by Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke.
London Art Weekend
Mayfair and St James’s, 5 – 6 July 2014
The scores of galleries nearby the Royal Academy, in Mayfair and St James’s, are joining forces the weekend in a two-day long art showcase: the London Art Weekend.
As well as opening all weekend, the exhibition spaces – which range from contemporary art dealers to Old Master specialists – are holding special events to celebrate the art on view and, just as importantly, demonstrate how valuable in terms of culture this gallery district is. As the BBC reported this spring, booming property prices are a huge threat to the area’s character, as only high-end retail and finance companies can now afford the rents.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, until 28 September 2014
I watched a preview last week of Mr Turner, filmmaker Mike Leigh’s take on the titan of British art (and Royal Academician, I might add). John Ruskin – now considered the most important critic of the age – is caricatured by actor Joshua McGuire as ripely as a mushy avocado: all affectations and po-faced pronouncements, topped off with a very silly lisp.
But Ruskin was a serious artist himself, a draughtsman capable of capturing the details of flora and the glow of a dawn sunrise as readily as the Arcadian architecture of Venice, the city with which he will always be associated, thanks to his Victorian bestseller The Stones of Venice. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery gives Ruskin his due from today with the first comprehensive retrospective on his art.
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, 5 July – 19 October 2014
When we consider the burgeoning British avant-gardes before and after the First World War, artists and art movements north of the border are often forgotten. But groups like the Scottish Colourists absorbed the lessons of Impressionism, Post Impressionist and Fauvism from across the channel with more acuity than their English contemporaries.
The movement’s leading figure, John Duncan Fergusson, is celebrated with a major retrospective at Chichester’s Pallant House from this weekend – the first of its kind for nearly 50 years. The visitor sees him develop his work from an early loose style – fireworks in Dieppe flung across the canvas with impressionistic strokes – through bold and colourful portraits influenced by Matisse to figures and landscapes in the contrails of Cubism.
As Exciting As We Can Make It: Ikon in the 1980s
Ikon, Birmingham, 2 July – 31 August 2014 Birmingham’s bastion of contemporary art, Ikon gallery, is 50 years old this annum, and, in a productive bit of naval-gazing, it is staging exhibitions that revisit its past shows and artworks, teasing out the key curatorial moments.
Perhaps because of the incandescence of the YBAs in the 1990s, British art in the 1980s often gets short thrift in terms of column inches in histories of modern and contemporary art, but – as Ikon’s new show on the decade should demonstrate – it was a period of free-wheeling experimentation, in which figurative painting made a comeback, the variety of abstract styles increased, installation art grew in ambition and cut-and-paste appropriation prevailed. A significant group of Royal Academicians are included, all of whom produced important work at this time: painters Gillian Ayres, Albert Irvin, Mali Morris and Sean Scully, and sculptors Cornelia Parker and Richard Wilson.
Last chance: Polke/Richter–Richter/Polke
Christie's Mayfair, London, 25 April – 7 July 2014
Monday sees the doors close on a major exhibition at Christie’s that twins together two of the most significant artist of the last century: Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke.
The show’s starting point is their joint exhibition back in 1966, in which the German artists – then close friends – presented paintings influenced by photography. Richter had begun to blur his paintings of photographs, while Polke at that point was attempting to capture with paint the moiré pattern of newsprint. The show then follows their trajectories during the decades that followed, as the two grew apart as both practitioners and people.