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Archive for May 2012

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012 calls for entries at the National Portrait Gallery.

“Harriet and Gentleman Jack” (2010) by Jooney Woodward © Jooney Woodward

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012 calls for entries at the National Portrait Gallery.

David Franchi – 31st May 2012

“It provides an important platform for portrait photographers of all ages”

The “Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize” returns to the National Portrait Gallery for the 2012 edition, with the opening of the ‘Call for Entries’ and a New Commission.

The National Portrait Gallery announced the Call for Entries for the “Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012”, a major international photographic award. Entry forms are now available and the closing date for entries is 9th July 2012.

The “Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012” is open to all photographers over the age of 18. It provides an important platform for portrait photographers of all ages including professionals, gifted amateurs and students.

From the applications around sixty selected works will be displayed. The winner of the “Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012” will receive £12,000, and in addition the judges, at their discretion, will award one or more cash prizes to the shortlisted photographers. The exhibition will run at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 8th November 2012 until the 17th February 2013.

New for this year, the “John Kobal New Work Award”, will be awarded to a photographer under the age of 30 selected for the exhibition. The winning photographer will receive a cash prize of £4,000 to include undertaking a commission from the National Portrait Gallery to photograph a sitter connected with the UK film industry. John Kobal (1940-1991) was a collector and author who worked on Hollywood legend photography. His archive was the subject of an exhibition, Glamour of the Gods, at the National Portrait Gallery in 2011. The John Kobal Foundation was formed before Kobal’s death, and it continues to encourage the work of emerging photographers.

Last year the “Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize” attracted nearly 6,000 entries and was won by Jooney Woodward for her portrait ‘Gentleman Jack’. Prizes were also awarded to Jill Wooster, Dona Schwartz, Jasper Clarke and David Knight.

Taylor Wessing, the sponsor of the event, is a leading International law firm. Tim Eyles, Managing Partner of Taylor Wessing says: ‘Each year the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize brings together a collection of portraits that provide insight, inspire questions and catalyse debates. The multifarious nature of the entries and the lives and cultures that they represent makes the Prize both relevant and thought provoking. That provocation is one of the reasons why Taylor Wessing has always been supportive of the arts: in generating a reaction from the viewer, art is a great medium through which to encourage innovation and thus the development of creative talent. We look forward to seeing what will inevitably be another challenging and inspiring collection of entries this year.’

Simon Crocker, Chairman of The John Kobal Foundation says: ‘We are delighted to continue our association with the Gallery and the Portrait Prize. This new award reflects the late John Kobal’s combined passions for cinema and photography which we continue to pursue’.

A 72 page catalogue (RRP £15) featuring all the selected photographs will accompany the exhibition.

Call for entries information may be downloaded at www.npg.org.uk/photoprize or by sending a stamped addressed A4 envelope to: Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012, National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H OHE.

More info at www.npg.org.uk/photoprize.

At the National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin’s Place, London.

Opened until 9th July 2012.


Written by davidfranchi

May 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm

London parallel between Mondrian and Nicholson at the Courtauld Gallery.

Piet Mondrian, Composition C (no.III), with Red, Yellow and Blue (1935) © 2012 Mondrian/ Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International Washington DC

London parallel between Mondrian and Nicholson at the Courtauld Gallery.


David Franchi – Monday, 28th May 2012.

“a highly productive period for both artists”

The exhibition “Mondrian || Nicholson: In Parallel” was focused on the friendship between the two artists.

The Courtauld Gallery exhibition ended with great succes and 79,888 visitors. It brought together an extraordinary group of paintings and reliefs to show how each artist was driven by a profound belief in the potential of abstract art.

In 1933, Ben Nicholson visited Paris where he met Dutch painter Piet Mondrian – and Picasso too – whose style was to influence him in an abstract direction.

Mondrian was worried as his work had been included in the Nazis’ notorious 1937 show of degenerate art. Therefore, Nicholson invited Mondrian in the UK when German invasion threat was very high.

In 1938, in fact, Winifred Nicholson accompanied Mondrian from Paris on the train journey into exile in London. At that moment, Winifred was the first wife of Ben, while in 1938 he was getting married with the famous British artist Barbara Hepworth.

Mondriansettled gladly into an Hampstead studio close to the one of Nicholson. But after the

Piet Mondrian in Hampstead (c. 1939-40) Ph. John Cecil Stephenson © Estate of John Cecil Stephenson/Tate Archive

Netherlands were invaded and Paris fell in 1940, Mondrian left London for New York, where he would remain until his death.

Mondrian’s and Nicholson’s friendship in the 1930s spanned a highly productive period for both artists who, in their different ways, were determined to refine and intensify their abstract work. Nicholson had begun to pursue a pure form of abstraction before he met Mondrian but he found powerful confirmation of his artistic convictions through Mondrian’s example.

At the same time Mondrian was taking new directions in his paintings. He also renewed the possibilities of his famous horizontal and vertical black lines leading to his development of the ‘double line’ which greatly enhanced the visual power of his compositions. Today these works are recognised as being among his most iconic paintings.

The exhibition “Mondrian || Nicholson: In Parallel” brought together important examples of these works, reuniting paintings and reliefs which were exhibited or published together in the 1930s as well as those originally bought by collectors from Nicholson’s circle.

The exhibition “Mondrian || Nicholson: In Parallel” shows the way the work of Nicholson evolved during the period in which the two artists were close. Nicholson were using more colourful paintings with unsteady lines processing more sober white reliefs. At the Courtauld Gallery exhibition displayed also letters and other memorabilia that revealed Mondrian hidden personal character from a different point of view.

Ben Nicholson in his Hampstead studio (c.1935) Ph. by Humphrey Spender © National Portrait Gallery, London

Without warning, “Mondrian || Nicholson: In Parallel” displays in London at the same time as “Picasso and Modern British Art” – at Tate Britain. The latter also has a section on Nicholson. Both the exhibitions showed developments of the British art under the inspirational presence of the more complete continental artists, highlighting how they reacted to the influence of major artist.

An interesting initiative of the Courtauld Gallery was to invite people to dress in 1930s glamour style and get a free entrance for the exhibition “Mondrian || Nicholson: In Parallel”, on the 10th May, with live jazz music, art workshops and talks.

The exhibition was curated by Professor Christopher Green (The Courtauld Institute of Art), and Dr Barnaby Wright, Daniel Katz (Curator of 20th Century Art). In association with Paul Holberton Publishing.

Sponsored by: ING, Abellio Group, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, London, Friends of The Courtauld Gallery, Nauta Dutilh. Further support provided by: Crane Kalman, Hester Diamond, Richard Green, The Headley Trust, Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, Bernard Jacobson Gallery.

At the Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, London.

From 16th February to 20th May 2012.

Written by davidfranchi

May 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm

The importance of Picasso for the Modern British Art at the Tate Britain.

The Three Dancers, 1925, © Tate

The importance of Picasso for the Modern British Art at the Tate Britain.

David Franchi – Saturday, 26th May 2012

“many British artists have responded to Picasso’s influence”

The focus of “Picasso & Modern British Art” is the effect of the presence of the Spanish artist in the UK, the major exhibition ongoing at the Tate Britain.

What is the impact of Picasso on British art? This is the basic question of the exhibition “Picasso & Modern British Art”. The Spanish artist, in fact, both lived and exhibited in England during his life and his presence was of inspiration for many local artists. Picasso made a significant contribution to the English art environment, despite being highly criticised but accepted only late.

The exhibition explores Picasso’s rise in Britain as a figure of both controversy and celebrity, tracing the ways in which his work was exhibited and collected during his lifetime. It demonstrates that the British engagement with Picasso and his art was much deeper and more varied than generally has been appreciated.

Picasso & Modern British Art” comprises over 150 works from major public and private collections around the world, including over 60 paintings by Picasso.

The Tate Britain exhibition is organised in a chronological order, starting from the period 1910-14. Before the First World War, Picasso first exhibited in the UK in “Manet and the Post-Impressionists” organised by critic Roger Fry at the Grafton Galleries, London, in November 1910. Initially, the work of Picasso was utterly knocked down by many critics, including GK Chesterton.

However, other public exhibition followed and Picasso became the source of inspiration for artist, such as Duncan Grant and Wyndham Lewis. The first was totally revitalized by Picasso’s example than any other artist. Grant also met Picasso in 1912 while he was working in Paris. Wyndham Lewis was the leader of the British avant-garde and he was working in Paris as well from 1902 to 1908. Lewis absorbed many elements of the radical changes ongoing in that period in France.

Nude woman in a red armchair, 1932, © Tate

The exhibition “Picasso & Modern British Art” displays the period he spent in Britain in summer 1919 when he came to London with Diaghilev, the impresario of the Ballet Russes. Picasso had worked with Diaghilev before and he had married one of his dancers, Olga Khokhlova. Picasso was in London to work on ‘The Three Cornered Hat’ that premiered on July 1919 at the Alhambra Theatre, in Leicester Square.

Another artist influenced by Picasso was Ben Nicholson who met the work of the Spaniard in Paris during the 1920s. The exhibition “Picasso & Modern British Art” highlights that Nicholson developed a personal Cubist style in the 1930s. In 1932 he and Barbara Hepworth visited Picasso in Paris.

Without warning, “Picasso and Modern British Art” displays in London at the same time as  “Mondrian || Nicholson: In Parallel” – at The Courtauld Gallery. Both the exhibitions showed developments of the British art under the inspirational presence of the more complete continental artists, highlighting how they reacted to the influence of major artist.

From 1920 until 1939 the reputation of Picasso in Britain was slow in recover, despite the fact that many British artists were considering him a master. One of them was Henry Moore who started to drew inspiration from Picasso’s work in the early 1920s, sharing inspiration from African and other non-Western traditions.

Francis Bacon declared that he decided to abandon interior design and take up painting after seeing an exhibition of Picasso work in the 1920s.

However, even with his reputation Picasso was exhibited in Britain. In 1938, ‘Guernica’ was showed at the New Burlington Galleries, Mayfair, London. It attracted attention and it was the object of a great public debate. The British Surrealist Roland Penrose – a lifetime friend of Picasso – planned the show that was a part of a campaign to raise funds for the rebels fighting against Franco in the Spanish civil war. Guernica showed in Oxford, Leeds and Manchester following a tour that disdained the common cultural hot places. Its last display was at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, where the price of admission for those unable to pay the ticket, was a pair of boots. After decades when David Hockney was lecturing on Picasso in New York, he sent a postcard with Guernica on the front to his father who revealed to him to have visited the Whitechapel exhibition paying with its booths.

Graham Sutherland acknowledges his debt to Guernica from which he much has learnt. He brought together the tradition of English landscape and modern innovations. In the 1940s Sutherland bought a house in the South of France and became friend with Picasso himself.

In 1950, Picasso made his second and final visit to Britain as a delegate of the Communist- sponsored peace conference in Sheffield and when the conference was abandoned because of the government intervention Picasso repaired in London and in Sussex.

Finally Picasso was totally accepted in Britain in 1960, when Tate organised a major exhibition of his work.

Still Life with Mandolin, 1924, © Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Another artist who has been influenced by Picasso is David Hockney. He visited Picasso’s major Tate Gallery 1960 exhibition eight times, starting a life-long obsession with the artist. Hockney learnt the versatility of the style and adopted it in his following works. A selection of various Hockney homage to Picasso are on show.

In 1965, Roland Penrose could negotiate with Picasso the sale of ‘The Three Dancers’ to the Tate Gallery. Unexpectedly, Picasso accepted. It was the first time he sold directly to a public museum.

From the 1960 exhibition Picasso’s influence is unstopped in Britain until today and after all, he originated many of the most significant developments of twentieth-century art.

“Picasso & Modern British Art” examines Picasso’s evolving critical reputation and British artists’ responses to his work. While many British artists have responded to Picasso’s influence, those represented in this exhibition have been selected to illustrate both the variety and vitality of these responses over a period of more than seventy years. This is a rare opportunity to see such works alongside those by Picasso that, often, are documented as having made a particular impact on the artist concerned; in other cases, they have been chosen as excellent examples of a stylistic affinity between Picasso and the relevant British artist.

However this is a weak point of the show that in some cases puts extraordinary Picassos together with other not so brilliant artists or pieces of work. Also the choice on pieces to juxtapose to Picasso’s ones seems to be fable, even considering major artist such as Bacon, Moore or Nicholson, not mentioning minor ones such as Grant.

After Tate Britain, the exhibition will tour to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Picasso & Modern British Art is devised by James Beechey with other contributions from Professor Christopher Green (Courtauld) and Richard Humphreys. It is curated at Tate Britain by Chris Stephens, Curator (Modern British Art) & Head of Displays, Tate Britain, assisted by Helen Little, Assistant Curator, Tate Britain. Special thanks go to Fundacion Almine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso. The exhibition is accompanied by a major new catalogue edited by James Beechey and Chris Stephens.

From 15th February until 15th July 2012.

At the Tate Britain, Pimlico, London.

Written by davidfranchi

May 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Islington Exhibits is looking for artists and places.

Islington Exhibits is looking for artists and places.

Editorial Staff – Saturday, 12th May 2012

“an initiative to unlock hidden venues in Islington”

London still offers opportunities, despite the double dip recession is knocking at your door. For those involved in the art environment the city central area is rich of events and occasions to be catched.

Islington Exhibits” is one of these. It is an initiative to unlock hidden venues in Islington. It gives artists and craft persons a space to display their work. It is produced by Rowan Arts in partnership with Cubitt Education, Holloway Neighbourhood Group, Islington Arts Factory and St. Luke’s Centre and with support from Islington Council and Creative Islington.

Rowan Arts was established in 2003 by Holloway residents Ruth Robinson, Claire Hegarty and Verity Spence. It grew out of the grass roots group Peter Pan Park Action Group. Between 1999 and 2003, Peter Pan Park Action Group successfully raised over £300,000 to rebuild a decaying park located in Tollington Ward, one of Islington’s poorest areas, opened in 2003 as Landseer Gardens. Peter Pan Park Action Group’s work enabled a number of local women to collate the energy of several other local people.

In 2012 Islington Exhibits will be taking place in North Islington 19-22 July and in South Islington 26-29 July. For information about how to take part visit the artists page. It is possible to join the Rowan Arts Mailing List and keep up to date with what is happening or come and talk to us at one of our drop-in sessions.

There are two ways for artists to get involved in Islington Exhibits 2012. Firstly, arrange your own exhibition with an Islington venue and then register it with us using the steps below. Or else, apply to have your work exhibited as part of the Summer Salon 2012 exhibition at Islington Arts Factory.

Once you have found a venue and arranged your exhibition you can register it for inclusion on the Islington Exhibits website. The cost to register your exhibition is £20.00. Artists can register at any time from now until the start of Islington Exhibits but if they would like to be featured in the printed map of exhibitions and in the press release they could send their applications by midnight on Wednesday 20 June 2012. Alternatively, they can take part in Islington Exhibits by applying to exhibit their work as part of the Islington Arts Factory’s Summer Salon. For further details on how to do this visit the news page of the following links.

For more information:



Written by davidfranchi

May 12, 2012 at 2:41 pm

A new evaluation of Johan Zoffany at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Johan Zoffany, David with the head of Goliath (1756), © National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

A new evaluation of Zoffany at the Royal Academy of Arts.

David Franchi – Wednesday, 8th May 2012

gives a different perspective of the German artist”

The exhibition “Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed” is a new assessment of the work of the German painter.

The Royal Academy exhibition highlights Zoffany as a cornerstone of the English artistic culture of the eighteenth century. It features over 60 paintings and a selection of drawings and prints from British and international public and private collections, a number of which have rarely or never been exhibited before.

Of Bohemian origin, Zoffany was born Johannes Josephus Zaufallij near Frankfurt am Main (Germany) on 13th March 1733. Famous for his portraits, in the 1740s he began to study in the sculptor workshop of Melchior Paulus in Ellwangen. Later, he moved to Regensburg and studied under the artist Martin Speer.

Arranged thematically into eight sections, “Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed” opens with an exploration of his art in the 1750s when he trained in Rome – entering the studio of Agostino Masucci. He worked for German patrons, including the Prince-Archbishop and Elector of Trier, producing history paintings in the grand style. A highlight of this section includes an astonishing allegorical painting of David which has been traditionally considered to be a self-portrait.

Johan Zoffany migrated to London in 1760. He was totally involved in the British art and culture environment that provided many patronage opportunities for him, including the court of George III.

At Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed”, the section ‘Garrick and the London Stage’ examines his portraits and representations of the theatre showing Garrick and other famous British actors. In 1762, in fact, Zoffany was introduced to the actor David Garrick. The room reveals Zoffany‘s ability in depicting the excitement of live performance on canvas, in the context of the theatrical revolution spearheaded by Garrick.

Zoffany was a Freemason. He was initiated on 19th December 1763, at The Old King’s Lodge No 28.

At the Royal Academy exhibition, the section ‘The Court’ focuses on the importance of patronage in Zoffany’s portrait career from his introduction to the Court of George III in the early 1760s to his portraits of the family of the Empress Maria Theresa. Highlights in this section include ‘Queen Charlotte and her Two Eldest Sons’ (1764-5) which demonstrates Zoffany’s innovative treatment of royal sitters by placing them within a domestic setting.

Zoffany, a founding member of the new Royal Academy in 1769, enjoyed great popularity for his society and theatrical portraits. He was a master of what has been called the ‘theatrical conversation piece’, a sub-set of the ‘conversation piece’ genre that arose with the middle classes in the eighteenth century. The conversation piece – or conversazione – was a relatively small informal group portrait, often of a family or a circle of friends. This genre developed in the Netherlands and France and became popular in Britain from about 1720.

Johan Zoffany, The portraits of the Academicians of the Royal Academy, 1771-2 © The Royal Collection, Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II

At the “Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed”, the sojourn of Zoffany in Italy from 1772 to 1779 features in the room ‘Italy, Old Masters, and the Antique’, exploring the ways in which Italy impacted upon Zoffany’s visualisation of the collecting of antique statuary and old master paintings. From this period is his greatest painting, ‘The Tribuna of the Uffizi’ (1772-7).

The section ‘Families and Friends’ presents Zoffany’s approach to portraiture as commissioned by aristocratic and bourgeois sitters whom were coming from the countries he visited. Developing the full potential of the group portrait as ‘conversation piece’, these works celebrate informality and sociability, and reveal the dynamics of ordinary, everyday family life. Often placed within grand interiors or on landed estates, these group portraits confirm the social and economic standing of sitters drawn from the world of politics, commerce and the arts.

Johan Zoffany, The Tribuna degli Uffizi, 1772-7 © The Royal Collection, Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II

The room ‘Revolution, Reaction, and Retirement’ focuses on Zoffany’s career in the 1790s after his return from India. His most ambitious paintings of this last period were the two pendant pictures portraying acts of barbarity perpetrated during the French Revolution; ‘Plundering the King’s Cellar at Paris’ (1794) and ‘A Scene in the Champ de Mars, Celebrating over the Bodies of the Swiss Soldiers on the 12th August 1792’, with a ‘Portrait of the Duke of Orleans’ (1794). Their shocking subject matter reveals the intensity of Zoffany’s response to recent events in France.

He worked once more in England, until his retirement around 1800. Zoffany died dying at his home at Strand-on-the-Green, 11th November 1810. He is buried near his home in the churchyard of St. Anne’s Church, Kew. The painter Thomas Gainsborough was, by that artist’s own request, later buried nearby.

Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed” gives a different perspective of the German artist. The Royal Academy exhibition is for lovers of the eighteenth century art, for those interested in social aspects of the period.

Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed” has been co-organised by the Royal Academy of Arts and the Yale Center for British Art. The exhibition is curated by Martin Postle, Assistant Director for Academic Activities at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. The organising curator at the Yale Center for British Art is Gillian Forrester, Curator of Prints and Drawings, and, at the Royal Academy, Mary Anne Stevens, Director of Academic Affairs. It is supported by Cox & Kings.

From 10th March until 10th June 2012.

At the Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, London.

Written by davidfranchi

May 9, 2012 at 8:54 am

Korean Contemporary Art at the Moorhouse.

Jaheyo Lee – Korean Contemporary art Exhibition at the Moorhouse

Korean Contemporary Art at the Moorhouse.

David Franchi – Wednesday, 2nd May 2012

An Exhibition of Korean Contemporary Art” generated great enthusiasm. The collective show of the Korean art was organised by Albemarle Gallery in association with Art Moorhouse.

An Exhibition of Korean Contemporary Art” presented new ideas about art, new conceptual territories that deserves to be explored in the near future. South Korea has made a hard and rapid transition from an underdeveloped country to a mature economy, yielding new art production.

As long as South Korean – one of the most successful economics model – could be referred as ‘The Korean Miracle’ the national art environment has greatly mirrored this newly surprisingly situation.

The artists featured in “An Exhibition of Korean Contemporary Art” represent the transformations of their country. This collective exhibition is composed of nine artists who work with different media. Jaheyo Lee made installations with chestnut wood pieces and others using stainless steel. The latter is the same material used by Kim Yeon whose works represents moments of meditation and contemplation. It is an evident contrast with the women depicted on the more traditional oil on canvases of Park Jihye. Metal and canvas, instead, are the features of Kim Yongjin who brings them together in a meticulous piece. Lee Horyon overlapped and interlocked work is also interesting while Lee Kangwook mixed media canvases are very intriguing. Very innovative and astonishing are the pieces of Hong Sungchul prints on elastic strings in a steel frame that left visitors curios about the new technology. The lenticular pastiches of Bae Joonsung catch unprepared the public while reviewing old masters works. Yun Weedong made incredible watercolours with a hyper realistic  technique leaving people speechless for its attention of the details.

The artists featured in this exhibition are products of this transformation. They work in sculpture and painting and explore the issues that permeate the new Korean society: consumerism, materialism and the conflict between traditional eastern values and new western values.

Despite that Korea passed through many difficult moments it was able to develop a very good quality of art. Korean art did not put aside its heritage from the Three Kingdom period but strongly transformed it in a blend with the most acknowledged contemporary art movement. At the Moorhouse exhibition though the best artists are not present it was possible to have a great survey about Korean art. “An Exhibition of Korean Contemporary Art” has given, in fact, material for the definition of today Korean art.

In association with Albemarle Gallery, Mayfair, London.

From 22nd March to 27th April 2012.

At the Art Moorhouse, Moorhouse, Moorgate, City of London.

Written by davidfranchi

May 2, 2012 at 9:46 am