Eric Gill ARA (1882-1940), 'The Bath' (Petra Bathing), 1920. Stone with added colour. Courtesy The Fine Art Society. Carving in Britain: From 1910 to Now
The Fine Art Society, until 12 January 2013)
A key change that took place in art in the early twentieth century was the rise of ‘direct carving’ in sculpture, whereby artists would cut directly into material themselves (previously sculptors such as Rodin would model in plaster, before assistants used a pointing machine to reproduce bronze and marble replicas). An exhibition from today at Mayfair’s Fine Art Society maps the new artistic territory that resulted in Britain, characterised by truth to materials and an insistence on the expressive potential of chisel-in-hand on stone. Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Henry Moore and Eric Gill ARA all feature, the latter’s art influenced by the religious sculpture that was directly carved in medieval Europe, but the show also follows direct carving up until present day experimentations.
Francesco Clemente: Mandala for Crusoe
Blain Southern, until 26 January 2013
Blain Southern near Oxford Circus presents from today 14 recent paintings by the Italian painter Francesco Clemente, who came to prominence from the mid-1970s with richly symbolic figurative work that bucked the decade’s trend towards Minimalism, linking him with Neo-Expressionist painters such as George Baselitz Hon RA and Sandro Chia.
Francesco Clemente, 'La femme fontaine', 2012. Pigments on linen. 243.8 x 365.8 cm / (96 x 144 in). Photo Credit: Eric Vigil.
The itinerant nature of his life – divided between Rome, New York and Varanasi in India – has contributed to the cacophony of different motifs in his work on view, informed by Italian Renaissance archetypes and Buddhist-Hindu mandalas, as well as pop culture references to figures like Andy Warhol and modern-day Hollywood actresses.
Jonas Mekas, 'Happy Birthday to John', 1996. John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the Museum of Syracuse, 1971. 16mm film frame. © 2012 Jonas Mekas. Jonas Mekas
Serpentine Gallery, 5 December - 27 January
Wednesday sees a survey of avant-garde Lithuanian-born New York-based filmmaker Jonas Mekas open at London’s Serpentine Gallery, accompanied by a dedicated season of his films on view at the BFI Southbank. During the 1960s Mekas developed a highly personal approach to making experimental moving image works, capturing on camera poetic vignettes and diaries of his everyday life in the city, as well as the lives of his collaborators in the Big Apple’s vibrant arts community, such as writer Allen Ginsberg and filmmaker Kenneth Anger. The Serpentine show features works from the 1950s all the way until today, including an installation that presents his new feature-length film.
October Gallery, 6 Dec – 16 February 2013
Another Beat Generation pioneer is in focus from this week at Bloomsbury’s October Gallery. William Burroughs is primarily known for his non-linear written works such as the notorious Naked Lunch (1959), but the American has long complemented his words with an expansive visual vocabulary.
William S. Burroughs, 'Untitled', ca.1988. Spray paint and gunshots on metal sign, 36 x 50.5 cm. Courtesy Estate of William S. Burroughs. Photo ONUK.
His paintings, drawings and objects tend to be coursed through with the same apocalyptic quality as his most famous texts; pieces on show range from a metal ‘No Tresspassing’ sign obliterated by gunshots and spraypaint to a work on paper in which an image of a prison cell is highlighted in yellow on black.
Valentino with models, 2007. © Lorenzo Agius. @ www.aandrphotographic.co.uk Valentino: Master of Couture
Somerset House, until 3 March 2013
The first name of Roman fashion designer Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani has come to define the most elegant and exquisite side of haute couture dress-making since the 1960s. An exhibition that opened this week at Somerset House charts Valentino’s career from his breakthrough period, when he was worn by Jackie Kennedy, to his later collections before his retirement in 2008. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a dramatically lit catwalk in which the visitor walks down, looking out on his works modelled by mannequins – in the designer’s words, ‘The dress is like a sculpture done on the body of a lady.’
Sam Phillips is a London-based arts journalist and contributor to RA Magazine