Mondrian║Nicholson: In Parallel
LAST CHANCE: Until 20 May 2012
Sunday is the last opportunity to catch the Courtauld Gallery’s small but sublime show exploring the creative relationship between the Dutch and English masters of Modernism, Piet Mondrian and Ben Nicholson, whose friendship began in 1934. The former moved to London in 1938, developing his practice in Hampstead alongside Nicholson and his avant-garde circle before moving to New York at the outbreak of war.
Mondrian’s highly recognisable mode of spiritualist geometric abstraction – grids of quadrilaterals whose colour was restricted to white, black and primaries – no doubt helped stimulate the works by his friend, such as 1940-43 (two forms) (a loan from the National Museum in Cardiff). But the exhibition suggests that artistic inspiration was not one-sided but reciprocal, and it is an enjoyable task to probe the two artists’ aesthetic similarities and differences. Critic Simon Wilson discusses the show at length here, in an article from RA Magazine’s Winter 2011 issue.
Museums at Night
18 – 20 May 2012
If you’ve yet to plan your evening entertainment this weekend, forget the restaurant, theatre or cinema and take a pick from the hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries and heritage sites that are opening their doors after hours for special events as part of the annual Museums at Night project.
Information on the very wide range of lectures, guided tours and performances is on the Culture24 website. Intrepid art and heritage enthusiasts can sleep over in historic properties such as Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, Belsay Hall in Northumberland and Dover Castle – or even bed down next to Ramesses II in the Egyptian sculpture gallery of the British Museum.
Who is Community?
From 15 May 2012
Art on the Underground’s noble efforts to present interesting contemporary artworks in the context of the Tube continues with the launch of Who is Community?, a project for Stratford Underground station by film director Tim Newton and artist Bob and Roberta Smith (yes, artist singular, Bob and Roberta Smith being the moniker of Patrick Brill).
The main component is a silent-film-style comedy that imagines a meeting between Pierre de Coubertin, father of the modern Olympics, and the German theorist of community Hannah Arendt. The work premiered on Wednesday and is to be screened in the station from October. Reproductions of paintings and painted cut-outs related to the film are now on view in the station and at various venues around Stratford, including Theatre Royal Stratford East and The Nunnery.
The Triumph of Pleasure
Until 9 September 2012
More than 250 years before its gyratory roads, apartment blocks, housing estates and all-night nightclubs, the riverside neighbourhood of Vauxhall in London was home to the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.
Thomas Rowlandson, 'Vaux-Hall', c1784. Pen and ink and watercolour. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
The manicured gardens were a mainstay of the city’s entertainment scene in the eighteenth century: up to 100,000 visitors a year enjoyed the concerts, fancy-dress jubilees, firework displays, circus acts and dining pavilions known as ‘supper boxes’ fabricated and decorated in Rococo and Neo-Classical styles, with paintings and sculptures in their interiors. The Foundling Museum has opened a temporary exhibition of artworks and objects that bring the gardens to life once again, including pieces by Canaletto, Thomas Gainsborough, François Roubiliac and Thomas Rowlandson.
Sam Phillips is a London-based arts journalist and contributor to RA Magazine