October 20, 2011


Klaus Weber: If you leave me I'm not coming

The works of Klaus Weber, as this wide-ranging exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary (22 October until 8 January 2012) reveals, constantly call into question what we mean by reality, and what we mean by art. His apparently abstract bee paintings, for example, were actually made by bees using the white surfaces of his canvases for excretion during the "cleansing flight" which follows winter hibernation. Up on the Roof Running Man is based on the cartoon characters who run blindly off a cliff yet remain suspended in mid-air. Weber has also created a set of giant wind chimes tuned to the tritonic scale, believed in the Middle Ages to summon the devil (and still used in heavy metal music today).


Private Eye: The First 50 Years

Ever since it was founded in 1961, Private Eye has been a much loved and much reviled British institution, deflating pomposity and exposing corruption with its unique combination of sharp humour, graphic satire and serious investigative journalism. To mark the 50th anniversary of the magazine, the Victoria and Albert Museum is putting on a small exhibition (until 8 January 2012) which highlights the many talented and influential artists who have been closely associated with it, including Willie Rushton, Ralph Steadman and Gerald Scarfe. It will also feature a timeline of the famous "speech-bubble" covers and an evocation of the editor's office, overflowing with papers, artwork and press clippings.


The Last of the Duchess

When Lady Caroline Blackwood is sent by The Sunday Times to the Windsors' house in Paris to conduct an interview, she discovers a household fraught with suppressed tensions. Why is some of the Duchess' famous jewellery being sold at auction on the international art market? How trustworthy is her ferocious French lawyer, determined to use every legal loophole to repel interest in her client? And is there even any real evidence that Wallis Simpson is still alive? Nicholas Wright's new play, based on Blackwood's book of the same name, offers a poignant picture of lives rendered barren by the emptiness of exile. Directed by Richard Eyre, it runs at the Hampstead Theatre until 26 November.


Kandinsky in Govan: Art, Spirituality and the Future

This year marks the centenary of Vassily Kandinsky's short book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, where the painter set out his opposition to the crass materialism of his era and developed his notion of the Russian tradition of "art as service". A major conference this weekend (21-23 October) at the Govan Folk University - a partnership between the Centre for Human Ecology, Fablevision, the GalGael Trust, Govan & Linthouse Parish Church and the Pearce Institute - asks "How might Kandinsky's ideas speak to burning need in the world today?" Presenters include Christina Lodder, honorary professorial Fellow in the history of art at the University of Edinburgh, and the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland as well as artists, theologians, social activists and environmentalists.




Moscow, 1938: a dangerous time and place to have a sense of humour. So what will happen when Mikhail Bulgakov, living among dissidents but stalked by the secret police, is offered a poisoned chalice: a commission to write a play to celebrate Stalin's 60th birthday? Inspired by historical fact, Collaborators takes us on a surreal journey into the fevered imagination of the writer as he loses himself in a macabre and disturbingly funny relationship with the omnipotent subject of his drama. In the battle of "man versus monster", must it inevitably be the monster who wins? With Alex Jennings as Bulgakov and Simon Russell Beale as Stalin, John Hodge's blistering new play is in repertory at the National Theatre from 25 October until 21 January 2012 (with further performances to be announced in November).

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