Van Gogh in London next year

The Tate Britain has announced a major Van Gogh (1853-1890) exhibition in Spring 2019. The exhibition, Van Gogh and Britain will look at the artist’s visit to London from 1873-1876 and his influence on British art throughout the twentieth century. The exhibition will display around 40 paintings from public and private collections including Starry Night on the Rhône, 1888, from the Musee D’Orsay and L’Arlésienne, 1890, from the Museu De Arte De São Paulo, as well as The National Gallery’s Sunflowers, 1888. With its London emphasis the exhibition will include some early less well known works with their limited palette revealing the versatility of the young artist and late works painted while the artist was at the Asylum Saint-Paul returning to earlier themes.


L’Arlésienne, 1890, Vincent Van Gogh, Musee D’Orsay, Paris

Alex Farquharson, Director, Tate Britain :

“Vincent van Gogh is without a doubt one of the greatest and most influential artists of all time. His stay in Britain changed his vision of the world and himself, encouraging him to become an artist. This is an exciting opportunity for us to reveal the impact Britain had on Van Gogh as well as the enormous influence he had on British artists. Tate’s last Van Gogh exhibition was in 1947 and introduced his work to a whole generation of artists working in Britain. We’re thrilled to be welcoming so many important and ground breaking paintings to the gallery.”

Hannah Ryggen – Woven Histories


Tapestry must be one of the most intimate of all art forms and Hannah Ryggen, one of its most intimate of exponents. Born in Malmo in 1894 she settled into subsistence farming in Norway with her painter husband, Hans. Although trained as a painter in oils she turned to tapestry becoming closer to the rural farming class. From these earthly roots and reading of Dagbladet , the culturally radical journal, she produced works to represent some of the most profound events of the twentieth century.


6th October 1942 (1943), Hannah Rhyggen

Her works are currently on display at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art.* The show opens with a triptych narrative of her farming life, We and our Animals (1934), appearing three times feeding their hens, cattle and in a domestic setting. The pace quickens with the brilliant anti-fascist Ethiopia (1937) shown at the same World Fair alongside Picasso’s Guernica in 1937; her depiction of, the speared, Mussolini was censored out. The exhibition has two highly critical tapestries of Norway’s Second World War position and objections to its role in nuclear armament and NATO, the anti Nazi  6th October 1942 (1943) and Jul Kvale (1956). There are more powerful statements on nuclear war and a very clever attack on the USA’s involvement in Vietnam depicting Lyndon Johnson’s casual cruelty to his pet dog.


Ethiopia (1937), Hannah Rhyggen

Interspersed with her political comment are some beautiful works of a more personal flavour. She appears in A Free One (1948), a statement of the eniquity of wealth and poverty, and one of her late works, Fishing in a sea of debt (1956). Her themes of personal love are coloured with rich reds, where in her words ‘she lets loose with explosive effect’.


Mothers World (1947) Hanna Rhyggen

What gives Ryggen’s tapestry’s such intimate power is her involvement with the whole process from spinning the yarn from local wool, dyeing with colour from the immediate countryside and manufacture on a hand made loom in her farmhouse kitchen. The exhibition is completed with a very personal 30 minute film with Ryggen explaining her philosophy and describing various tapestries.

*Unfortunately the exhibition closes at Oxford on Sunday.

Modern Oxford

Walked around Oxford looking at modern buildings. Have spent so much time looking at medieval Oxford and skipping past the modern it was good to give them a proper viewing. Started at St Catherine’s College, Arne Jacobsen 1962 masterpiece, bringing together modern materials within an Oxford college layout. Jacobsen designs are so complete that they reach right down to the cutlery in the dining room. Alan Bullock was Master of St Catz when the new buildings were commissioned. I remember reading Bullock’s biography of Hitler, Study in Tyranny when I was thirteen and thought it the best history text I ever read at school. Despite the atrocious weather we walked past the English and Law faculties (Martin and Wilson 1964), Psychology and Zoology Lab (Martin 1971), Biomedical Sciences (Hawkins Brown 2008), Rhodes House (Baker 1929), Keeble Arco Building (Mather 1995), Nuclear Physics Lab (Ove Arup 1970), and finishing in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter with the Mathematical Institute (Rafael Viñoly 2013) and Blavatnik School of Government (Herzog & de Meuron 2016). A great range from the natural feel of St Catz and the English Libraries through the brutality of the zoology lab to the calm of mathematics institute. The climax was undoubtedly the Blavatnik School of Government – Frank Lloyd Wright in Oxford in 2016, with the Window to the World, the largest single pane of glass in Europe. I now have a new set of buildings to show off to visitors in Oxford and how they intermix with the medieval and Victorian.

St Catherine’s College, Oxford, (Jacobsen 1962) in the sunshine.

Zoology and Psychology Lab, Oxford (Martin 1971)

Interior of Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford (De Herzog and De Meuron 2016)

Dantzig Gallery Woodstock

From 26 January – 4 February Dantzig Gallery is Hosting 600 Years of Art History, a unique exhibition co-curated by Dantzig Director Dave Davies, and Oxford University art historian Monica Tonella.
Their long-term goal is to kickstart a project which will see similar exhibitions taking place around the globe. It is hoped that, in doing so, the experience of art can be provided in communities who have no access to galleries.
Tonella enthuses, “this exhibition spans six centuries of art, starting with work made in Siena in the Renaissance and stretching through time to pictures made by Andy Warhol in the 1960s.
“But the exhibition is not so much about the paintings we have included as it is about history, and about the development of art through the ages. At its heart, this display aims to set out the foundations through which future generations can engage with art.”
The exhibition was launched with a reception with special guests Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at Oxford University, and BBC television presenter and art historian Dr Janina Ramirez.

A sample of the exhibition is Jan Frans van Bloemanks Italian Landscape of 1735

Van Bloeman, a Flemish landscape artist, who mainly worked in Italy, depicts here a rural scene of a deep steep sided gorge. In the foreground a stone arch crosses the gorge with groups of people. There are two passing on the right bank and a group taking in the view on the bridge. There are rocky outcrops above the dense wooded landscape and the unity of the view is completed by the columnar ghostlike mountains in the distance. Van Bloeman’s style is clearly influenced by Claude Lorrain from a generation before where he transposes the landed estates of the Roman patrician class into a form of Arcadia.

Leonor Antunes at the Whitechapel

The exposed brick work on the walls and the linoleum floor design appropriated from a drawing by Mary Martin all envelope a warm exhibition. The title The Frisson of the Togetherness is derived from architects Alison and Christine Smithson’s description of young people’s social allegiance. There is much here to evoke the 1956 This is Tomorrow exhibition at The Whitechapel. The Smithsons were there as was the Hungarian, Erno Goldfinger, who’s influence pervades these works; The tensioned rope bannisters evoke Goldfingers house in Hampstead as do the window louvres in 2 Willow Road. The clean lines are created by jute, rope, brass and teak. There is much modern feminist work here and in the side gallery are small craft works such as a rug by Mary Martin, glasswork by Nanna Ditzel, and jewellery by Lucia Nogueira.

It is always a delight coming to The Whitechapel and this warm architectural exhibition is no exception with its inclusive social togetherness.

Leeds Art Gallery

The recently refurbished Gallery in the centre of Leeds made a very enjoyable visit last week. It is the home of the best public collection of twentieth century art in the UK outside London, recognised as a collection of National Importance. It was a pity that the Ziff Gallery, home of the nineteenth century work was closed which meant that I missed one of my favourite pre Raphaelite artist, Evelyn De Morgan’s Valley of the Shadows. The twentieth century collection is very well presented however with a number of Jacob Kramer paintings including The Day of Atonement and The Rite of Spring (see painting of the day) and Praxitella by Percy Wyndham Lewis (1921). There is, as expected sculpture from Henry Moore, Mother and Child, Barbara Hepworth, Hieroglyph, and Anthony Gormley, The Leeds Brick Man (1986). Among the temporary displays are a polycarbonate and cast polyurethane rubber sculpture, Arena,(2000) by Alison Wilding and as part of the national “Artist Rooms” project an exhibition devoted to Joseph Beuys. Highlight for me is the portrait wall with work by many of the iconic twentieth century portraitists including Gwen John and Francis Bacon. Adjoing the gallery are the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Library with a terrific section devoted to art History.

As regards the day out the gallery is easy to access in the City centre, surrounded by great cafes and restaurants and the gallery’s own ‘Tiled Wall Café’ is itself a delight; a spot where the original neo-classical architecture is allowed freedom. Leeds is of course well served by motorways but I went by train where the station, with trains from all over the country is virtually in the city centre.