November 25, 2010


Homage 10x5: Blake's Artists

The pop artist Sir Peter Blake, probably most famous for the sleeve of the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, has long been an enthusiastic collector of objects ranging from consumerist kitsch to detritus washed up on the seashore. He has also been inspired by everything from the collages of Kurt Schwitters and the bold abstractions of Sonia Delaunay to the works of Henri Matisse and Damien Hirst. A new one-man show at the Waddington Galleries (until 11 December) offers his "nod of appreciation, a way of saying thank you to artists whose work I like", via 50 works that pay tribute to 10 of his favourites. Highlights include a collection of death ships and galleons populated by miniature gangs engaged in pitched battle, and Parade for Steinberg, in which the Simpsons, the Smurfs, Rupert Bear and friends promenade past Saul Steinberg, the late artist best known for his work in The New Yorker.


Les Parents Terribles

Jean Cocteau's viciously farcical 1938 play Les Parents Terribles, written in just over a week of opium-fuelled creativity, scandalised the Parisian audiences of its day and still packs an emotional punch. It tells the story of a middle-aged couple and their 22-year-old son, Michel, who has a relationship with his bedridden mother so close it borders on the incestuous. She is horrified when he falls in love with a woman of his own age, who unfortunately turns out to be his father's mistress. Although the perverse and self-centred characters make ever more desperate efforts to fight their way out of the traps they have set for themselves, it can only end in violence. Cocteau himself successfully adapted his play for the cinema in 1948. A new production, in an English version by Jeremy Sams, can be seen at London's Donmar Trafalgar until 18 December.

Washington DC

Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture

This exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (until 13 February 2011) brings together over 100 major works to explore the theme of sexual difference. It starts in the late-19th century with artists such as Thomas Eakins and John Singer Sargent and features major figures as varied as Keith Haring, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Georgia O'Keeffe and Andy Warhol. Themes examined in depth include the fluidity of sexuality and gender; how movements such as abstraction were influenced by the experience of social marginalisation; how art has reflected society's changing attitudes, and the particular impact of the 1969 Stonewall riots and the Aids/HIV crisis.


Paul Nash and Fay Godwin

This photographic exhibition at the Graves Gallery (until 19 March 2011) brings together the work of two very different artists who share a deep fascination with the British landscape. Paul Nash (1889-1946) is most celebrated for his paintings from the battlefields of both world wars, but he was also an enthusiastic landscape photographer whose collection Private World was published in 1978. Fay Godwin (1931-2005) started off as a portrait photographer but later turned largely to landscape, and particularly that of Yorkshire, most notably in the book she produced with the poet Ted Hughes in 1979, Remains of Elmet.


Magic Lantern

This winter, a specially commissioned installation by Mat Collishaw, whose work featured in Sensation, the celebrated 1997 exhibition of Young British Artists, will light up the uppermost dome of the Victoria and Albert Museum (from 26 November to March 2011). A huge zoetrope - a cylindrical device first used in 1834 to simulate motion - will create the effect of moths fluttering around inside. The work should be visible between dusk and dawn from many locations around South Kensington. A film documenting the process of producing and installing Magic Lantern in one of the museum's most inaccessible places will be shown in the grand entrance and via the V&A Channel, the museum's online audiovisual magazine.

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