Monthly Archives: February 2017

Pink Floyd, Jane Austen and virtual reality at the week in art

Exhibition of the week

Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains
From psychedelic odysseys to melancholy musings on the rock star’s fate, the relics of Pink Floyd’s epic story are laid out.
V&A, London, 13 May–1 October

Also showing

Mat Collishaw
This pioneering experiment in making serious art in virtual reality transports you back to a Henry Fox Talbot photography exhibition in 1839.
Somerset House, London, 17 May–11 June. Advance booking essential.

Isaac Julien
The artist and film-maker revisits his 1989 film Looking for Langston.
Somerset House, London, 17 May–21 May

The Mysterious Miss Austen
The life of the great Georgian writer is explored in the 200th anniversary year of her death in Winchester.
The Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre, 13 May–24 July

Anderson and Law
Turneresque photographs of model ships from the Science Museum’s collection seen as if through eerie mists on the high seas.
Science Museum, London, until 25 June

Masterpiece of the week

 

Giovanni Antonio Baffo, the Baffo Harpsichord, 1574

“Grotesque” originally meant not something ugly or monstrous, necessarily, so much as a playful painted decoration with no message or meaning. It derives from from the Italian word for cave, and became an artistic term after Renaissance painters broke into the underground ruins of Nero’s palace in Rome and were amazed by the abstract strangeness of the ancient Roman murals they found there. This 16th-century Venetian harpsichord has grotesques painted on it that make it a sumptuous work of Renaissance art – one that sounds good, too.
V&A, London

Image of the week

Part of Folly, the latest and most significant work by British sculptor Phyllida Barlow, which went on show this week in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2017. The Guardian’s Charlotte Higgins wrote a feature on Barlow this week, talking to those who know her best, and exploring her late-flowering fame; Adrian Searle reviewed the Venice show, while Hannah Ellis-Petersen was on hand to hear from Barlow as she opened it to the publish

Get involved

Guardian members can book now for an exclusive private view: True Faith, a group show exploring the impact of Joy Division and New Order on the art world, part of Manchester international festival.

Pink Floyd, Bruce Conner and Anthony Caro in this week’s best at UK exhibitions

1 The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains

The story of the psychedelic 1960s group that evolved into a wealthy business has a fable-like quality that Pink Floyd recognised themselves. They told the story of what they saw as big-time rock’s corruption and potential for alienation in songs such as Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb. These melancholy musings were given spectacular visual settings by arty stunts including flying an inflatable pig over Battersea Power Station and building a wall in front of the band as they played. See the props, Gerald Scarfe’s marching hammers and the ashes of a very English dream here.

1 The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains

The story of the psychedelic 1960s group that evolved into a wealthy business has a fable-like quality that Pink Floyd recognised themselves. They told the story of what they saw as big-time rock’s corruption and potential for alienation in songs such as Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb. These melancholy musings were given spectacular visual settings by arty stunts including flying an inflatable pig over Battersea Power Station and building a wall in front of the band as they played. See the props, Gerald Scarfe’s marching hammers and the ashes of a very English dream here.

3 Bruce Conner

When artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol were defining New York pop art, the maverick Conner was taking his own jaundiced, ironic, west coast view of a US he saw as violent, sex-obsessed and corrupt. A Movie (1958), showing here, is one of the very first US experiments in film as art. Like his assemblages of everyday stuff, it is a collage of found images.

4 Anthony Caro

Some artists, like Bruce Conner, are hidden treasures; others are so lauded in their lifetimes it can be hard to see their work for the reputation that enshrouds it. The late Anthony Caro is cursed with a place in art-history textbooks for his 1960s abstract works. Can his later art be enjoyed on its own terms? Here is a chance to see.

5 The Mysterious Miss Austen

The portrait that inspired Jane Austen’s image on the £10 note is among the exhibits in this exploration of the great novelist’s enigmatic personality. Austen died in Winchester in 1817 and is buried in its cathedral. She was only 41 but had already written some of most dazzling prose in the English language. A writer worth making an exhibition of.

News Victoria Wood statue to be built by creator of Eric Morecambe

Late actor and comedian Victoria Wood is to be honoured with a lifesize bronze statue in her home town.

Graham Ibbeson, who created Lancashire’s Eric Morecambe monument, will design and sculpt the piece to be erected in Library Gardens in Bury, Greater Manchester.

The Bafta award-winning star was 62 when she died in April last year from cancer. She delighted audiences throughout her career, becoming best known for writing and starring in the hit TV sitcom Dinnerladies.

The announcement comes after her brother, Chris Foote Wood, set up a crowdfunding appeal to raise money for a commission.

  
He said: “I am very pleased indeed that we have been able to obtain the services of Graham Ibbeson. It was his statue of Eric Morecambe that first inspired me to try to get something similar for my multi-talented and much-loved sister Victoria.”

He now hopes to raise a further £40,000 through his JustGiving page to make sure the statue is a proper representation of the star.

Ibbeson said: “I am honoured and delighted to be chosen as the sculptor to produce a bronze portrait of the much-loved comedian Victoria Wood.

“Her unique humour was a product of northern roots, unpretentious, accessible, and well observed.

“I will try to mirror all these qualities in my sculpture by trying to capture the warmth of her character and personality, and also reflecting the nation’s affection (and indeed mine) for her unique talent.”

The site for the statue has been provided by Bury council.

Leader Rishi Shori said: “We are delighted to be working with Graham Ibbeson. Victoria visited Eric Morecambe’s statue several times and admired Graham’s work, so it is very fitting for him to be creating this tribute to such a talented star.

“I’m sure it will be very popular with her numerous fans, from Bury and across the country.”

Alice Neel’s Benjamin Art light mood, dark truth

Little boy blue

The great US portraitist Alice Neel’s Benjamin depicts her landlord’s son. Its mood, as light as a helium balloon floating away on a summer’s day, was hard won.

Not a number

When Neel began painting her neighbours in Spanish Harlem in the 1940s and 50s, urban deprivation was becoming a subject for national debate. While the civil rights movement gathered pace, she painted those immediately around her, cutting through statistics by putting individuals in the frame.

Under pressure

These early paintings often have an anxious energy. Subjects don’t need a knife in hand, like teenager Georgie Arce, to suggest the myriad pressures they live with.

I will survive

Like her subjects, Neel had a survival story: her first child died and her second was taken by her husband. She then became a single mum to two boys, scratching out a living as a painter.

Up and away?

By the time she painted Benjamin, her work had been discovered and she was as likely to be painting New York’s in-crowd as the socially excluded. Her project of empathy and inclusion feels ever more relevant now.

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