Gillian Ayres RA
Alan Cristea, until 21 December 2012
A survey of Gillian Ayres’ breakthrough abstract paintings from the late 1950s, on view at Hastings’ Jerwood Gallery, comes to its conclusion on 25 November. But the baton is passed to London’s Alan Cristea Gallery, which contrasts that presentation with paintings and woodcuts from the last two years. From the 1990s the Academician’s canvases have featured forms that, while abstracted, could be construed as representational by the viewer; and the pieces on view on Cork Street – far from her wild, messy, highly gestural early works – arrange with clarity brightly coloured shapes reminiscent of leaves and flowers.
Death: A Self-Portrait
Wellcome Collection, until 24 February 2013
In 2001 Chicago-based antique print dealer Richard Harris, already an enthusiastic collector of graphic art, became gripped by a morbid fascination: he started amassing objects associated with the contemplation, experience and commemoration of death. The collection now numbers 1500 objects, drawn from across different genres and cultures from different times, in the hope that they will, in his words, ‘become the visual component for a more serious conversation about the subject of death that we need to have in our society’.
Francisco Goya, 'Tampoco (Not this time either): Desastres de la Guerra (Disasters of war)', 1863. Etching 8.5" x 6.75" Wellcome Images, Courtesy The Richard Harris Collection.
London’s Wellcome Collection presents 300 of the finest and most interesting pieces Harris has acquired, including vanitas paintings that feature skulls as memento mori, grisly representations of violent death – such as Francisco Goya's print series 'The Disasters of War' (1810-1820, published 1863) – and objects from both pre-Colombian and modern Mexico, from modern Day of the Dead paraphernalia to Aztec vessels.
The Art of Remembrance
Radio 4, On iplayer until Saturday 17 November 2012
A Radio 4 documentary this week examined the related theme about art that remembers the fallen in the Great War – it is still available on BBC iPlayer until midday on Sunday. As well travelling to visit Edwin Lutyens RA’s monumental Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, that commemorates the 70,000 British and Empire soldiers not represented with a grave, presenter Mark Whitaker looks at remembrance art by German artists, in the form of Otto Dix’s portrait of a veteran The Match Seller (1920) and an affecting sculpture by Käthe Kollwitz, whose son Peter was lost in the war.
Alvaro Deprit has won the series category prize in the 2012 edition of BJP's International Photography Award, Image © Alvaro Deprit/OnOff Picture. BJP International Photography Award
Foto8 Gallery, until 24 November 2012
The British Journal of Photography – one of the best photography magazines around – organises an annual award that, like the journal, has an open mind, requesting submissions from across the medium, from any format, style or genre. An exhibition of the winners is on view at Foto8 Gallery in Clerkenwell, London, until 23 November, including a series by Alvaro Deprit about the lives of unaccompanied children and teenagers who are seeking asylum in Italy.
National Maritime Museum, until 28 April 2013
Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell noted last week in his review of the National Maritime Museum’s exhibition of Ansel Adams’ landscapes that the Californian-born photographer was omitted from the Royal Academy’s 1989 survey of the history of photography, ‘The Art of Photography’.
Ansel Adams, 'Clearing Winter Storm Yosemite National Park, California', about 1937. Photograph by Ansel Adams. Image courtesy of David H Arrington. Collection Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.
One might muse that had two of the RA’s titans Turner or Constable been alive to select that show, Adams would have been given a gallery by himself: his works capture the grandeur of the natural world with such clarity that his achievements in the medium have yet to be surpassed.
Sam Phillips is a London-based arts journalist and contributor to RA Magazine