Small Guide to artistic events in London: from Tate Britain and Victoria & Albert Museum to National Portrait Gallery. Without forgetting the new Brancolini Grimaldi gallery dedicated to photography.
London offers great opportunities to people who like to plan a “full immersion” in the art world. During my recent travel to the capital of the United Kingdom, I visited some of the most important exhibitions currently in progress.
My “artour” starts at Tate Gallery and Tate Britain, unmissable location on Millbank for those who want to approach the most varied expressions of contemporary art, and not only that. I found two “special exhibitions” particularly interesting: the 150 works – paintings, drawings and sculptures – that describe the extraordinary adventure of Joan Miró and the complexity of his avant-garde art, with a strong political impact and a “revolutionary” meaning. The exhibition is open until September 11.
Another big and impressive exhibition is dedicated to the phenomenon of “The Vorticists”and “Vorticism”(name invented by the American poet Ezra Pound). Its exponents – Wyndham Lewis, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jacob Epstein, William Roberts, Helen Saunders, Edward Wadsworth – were the protagonists of an avant-garde movement which was influenced by the tensions of the early twentieth century, with desires and expectations of renewal. The subtitle of the exhibitions is: “Manifesto for a modern world”. It’s worth while visiting it; open until September 4. I noticed, in the works showed, several nuances and textures that I often find in the pictures of my “lacer/actions” artworks which are actually “whirls” paper raised by modern advertising.
Once more in Tate, I suggest making one “Walk through the Twentieth Century”where, in a series of rooms, it is possible to follow the development of British art in the 20th century. Exposed, among others, works by Whistler, Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney. If there is some time left, two exhibitions are interesting to visit: the Clore Gallery, to have a look at the art of “Romantics” (works by Turner, Constable, Blake) and the exhibition “Watercolour” (open until August 21 ) that shows the development of the water-colourist technique in its expression of versatility.
From Tate to National Portrait Gallery where, until September 18 (admission free), it’s possible to see the artists who have triumphed in “BP Portrait Award 2011”. It is the most prestigious artistic competition dedicated to portraitists (this year 2 thousand 300 authors have joined it). The same National Portrait Gallery, founded in 1856 contains the world’s largest collection of portraits, dating from the Middle Age to nowadays. It’s advisable to see the spectacular work by Paul Beel, winner of 2010 who has portrayed scenes of naturist beaches in Corfu (Greece). The “National” promotes actively subject-portraits with workshops for young peopole, family events, meetings and shows as the “Late shifts” on Thursday and Friday (18 o’ clock, free admittance).
Black and white colours in the photographic exhibition of Clare Strand, which is taking place at the beautiful space of Brancolini Grimaldi, in the central area of Mayfair (Albemarle Street 43-44). Although, during my morning visit, it was still a work in progress, I could admire photographs and video installations of an artist who works on the details of things and everyday reality. Actually, the bi-chromatic language is efficacious to transfigure objects that usually surround us whose meaning slips away or objects that are not considered since they are “usual”.
Gallery Brancolini Grimaldi has been recently opened. It represents different artists that operate in the field of photography. This “english branch” joins the experience that has been acquired in Italy by ladies Brancolini and Grimaldi with similar spaces in Rome and Florence (www.brancolinigrimaldi.com)
Finally – to show how London has always been the centre of innovative trends and cultural phenomenon of global importance – here is another interesting proposal that comes from Victoria & Albert Museum, historic complex in the area of Brompton: “The Cult of Beauty” artistic celebration of the Aesthetic Movement,active in London from 1860 to 1900. Open until July 17, the exhibition is a reproposal of reflections on one of the most original and surprising phenomenon of “a world that was changing”, which was concerned with art, literature and costume. Disparagingly defined as an expression of “decadence”, Aestheticism is now conceived as a force that preserves its power of innovation. The rebellion against capitalism and utilitarianism, and the conception of Art as a value, are concepts still present in modern debates.
Through its tribute to Leighton, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Whistler and, obviously, Oscar Wilde, “The Cult of Beauty” proposes the message of the philosopher Hume: beauty exists only in the eyes of those who contemplates it and it’s established by a “personal taste” that becomes more and more precise “enjoying” things of beauty. In London in summer 2011, where the winds of Vorticism and Aestheticism are blowing, there are possibilities of being educated by the beauty of art.
In the pic: facade of Tate Britain, with the promotional canvas dedicated to “the Vorticists”.