Our pick of this week’s art events: 4 – 11 March

Published 7 March 2016

From the unveiling of a colossal public sculpture in London to a blockbuster exhibition of Botticelli’s paintings, we present the week’s top shows.

  • Paradigm

    The Francis Crick Institute, London

    Creating a work of public sculpture to match the ambition and innovation of the Francis Crick Institute – Europe’s largest biomedical research centre – is certainly a tall order. It has, however, been met by Conrad Shawcross RA, whose colossal new public sculpture stands outside the building. Simultaneously robust and fragile, the work is an elegant arrangement of twisting triangular shapes that bear resemblance to the structure of the DNA molecule Crick co-discovered in 1953. Paradigm is 14 metres high, yet its base is only one metre wide, prompting the viewer to meditate on what the artist describes as the “precariousness of knowledge”. The work is named after Thomas Kuhn’s notion that in order for ideas to progress an old paradigm must be toppled by a new one. It is a truly magnificent work demonstrating a perfect union of artistry and engineering.

  • Conrad Shawcross RA, Paradigm

    Conrad Shawcross RA, Paradigm, 2016.

    Steel. © David Sanderson.

  • Anthony Whishaw RA

    Browse & Darby London, until 31 March

    As this survey at Browse & Darby shows, Anthony Whishaw RA has continually exploited a wide range of techniques and processes to produce a diverse body of work that traces a life’s experimental journey. Refusing to confine himself to a strictly abstract or representational mode of art, Whishaw’s paintings are filled with variety and moments of surprise, which make viewing them an invigorating experience. Throughout his career landscape has remained a consistent subject for him, but the mode of its representation has been in flux; though many are rendered hazy and dream-like, some have deconstructed forms that lend them a cubist sensibility, while others feature loaded brushwork articulating bold patches of colour and texture.

  • Anthony Whishaw RA, 37.Celestial-2007-2010,-acrylic-on-canvas,

    Anthony Whishaw RA, 37.Celestial-2007-2010,-acrylic-on-canvas,, 2007-2010.

    Acrylic on canvas. 168 x 229 cm. © 2016 Browse & Darby, All rights reserved..

  • Botticelli Reimagined

    The Victoria & Albert Musem, London, until 3 July

    Sandro Botticelli is one of the most venerated figures in the canon of art history. The endless reproductions of his paintings serve as a testimony to the Renaissance artist’s enduring legacy and widespread appeal. This exhibition at the V&A intends to shed new light on Botticelli’s lasting influence by placing his works alongside a variety of artists and media, including photography, film and tapestry. By focusing on the ways his artistry has infiltrated these various spheres, Botticelli becomes less a hackneyed reproduction on a key chain or coffee mug, but a real creative force whose vision has continued to inspire artists from Dante Gabriel Rossetti to Cindy Sherman Hon RA. This blockbuster show consists of 50 works by Botticelli himself, which are sure to elicit as much appreciation as ever for their grace and expressive power. In the Spring 2016 issue of RA Magazine, Simon Wilson explored the Renaissance master’s rise to stardom after years of neglect.

  • Sandro Botticelli, Portrait of a Young Man

    Sandro Botticelli, Portrait of a Young Man, c.1480-5.

    Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

  • Barry Flanagan: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

    Waddington Custot Gallery, London, until 14 May

    Displaying works from the 1960s, 70s and 80s (a number of which have not been exhibited for over 30 years), this exhibition digs up the roots of Barry Flanagan RA’s sculptural works, unearthing an early preoccupation with organic shapes and textures that would shape the rest of his career. Flanagan is most frequently associated with the emblem of the hare, as he repeatedly sculpted the animal’s elongated limbs and playful demeanour in bronze. In this selection of works at Waddington Custot Galleries, most of which predate the hare, Flanagan opts for an abstracted representation of nature. Here the outdoors is brought indoors to disorientating effect, such as with One ton corner piece (1967), where a mound of dirt is piled up against the corner of a pristine exhibition wall. This use of natural materials and formations were the antithesis of Pop Art’s preoccupation with the mass media.

  • Barry Flanagan RA, Heap 3 '67

    Barry Flanagan RA, Heap 3 '67, 1967.

    Hessian, sand. 45.7 x 76.2 x 76.2-cm. © The Estate of Barry Flanagan, 2015.

  • Helen Muspratt: Photographer

    Pallant House Gallery, London, until 8 May

    This exhibition gives overdue recognition to a British photographer whose pioneering techniques and distinct aesthetic have had a lasting impact on the course of modern photography. Helen Muspratt’s experiments with solarisation (an effect achieved by exposing film to daylight) imbued her images with the same painterly quality that characterised the work of Man Ray and Lee Miller. Although lesser known on the avant-garde scene than her American counterparts, she had an esteemed career, cofounding the photographic studio Ramsey and Muspratt, and frequently capturing venerable artistic and cultural figures. Far more than recording a likeness, Muspratt’s images of high society demonstrate a mastery of cropping and framing to evocative effect. Alongside this artifice, Muspratt’s documentary photography provided unflinching observations of peasant life during a 1936 trip to the Soviet Union, and of poor working conditions in the Welsh Valley in images taken on a visit the following year. With their classic beauty, compassion and monochrome boldness, Muspratt’s photographs continue to resonate.

  • Helen Muspratt, Women in the Field

    Helen Muspratt, Women in the Field, 1936.

    © The Estate of the Artist.

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