Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Strange and Familiar - Barbican Art Gallery

Bruce Gilden, London, 2011-13 (installation in Strange and Familiar)
Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers is at Barbican Art Gallery until 19 June 2016.
Robert Frank’s book The Americans is rightly regarded as one of the masterpieces of C20 photography. It was controversial on its initial reception in the United States, in 1959, both for its relaxed, subjective style of photography and because it presented an uncomfortably honest picture of 1950s America.
The freshness of Frank’s perception of America is typically, in part, ascribed to his status as an outsider: a Swiss immigrant seeing the country without prejudice. Frank never did a book called 'The British', but had he done so it would have featured some of the pictures included in Strange and Familiar.
This exhibition, curated by Martin Parr, presents views of Britain as seen through the lenses of photographers from other countries, from the 1930s to today. There are few, perhaps, who can match Frank's effortless style, but the mix delivers facinating insights into the British character alongside nostalgia and the occasional, inevitable stereotype.
Read reviews by Mark Hudson, Ben Luke, Andrew Dickson, Eliza Williams, and an article by Ian Jack; see a complete list of exhibits with introductions to the photographers.

(Click on images to enlarge.)
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Coronation of King George VI, London, 1937
Robert Frank, City of London, 1951
Cas Oorthuys, London, 1953
Sergio Larrain, Baker Street Underground Station, 1958-9
Cas Oorthuys, Oxford students 1962
Frank Habicht, Time, Gentleman, please! City of London, 1960s
Bruce Davidson, Wales, 1965.
Candida Hofer, Liverpool IX, 1968
Akihiko Okamura, Northern Ireland, 1970s
Evelyn Hofer, Bus conductress and postman, London, 1977
Shinro Ohtake, from the series UK77, 1977–1978.
Raymond Depardon, Glasgow, 1980 
Bruce Gilden, London, 2011-13

Monday, 21 March 2016

Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Giovanni Bellini,  A Portrait of a Boy, c1475
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham houses a remarkable collection of art including paintings from the 13th century to the 20th century.
I have visited it for the first time – drawn by the excellent exhibition of abstract painting: Chance, Order, Change (see entry below). Here are my top ten paintings.
(Click on images to enlarge.)
Luca Signorelli,  A Portrait of Niccolò Vitelli, c 1492-96
Jan Gossaert,  Hercules and Deianira, 1517
Christopher Amberger (attrib.),  A Portrait of a Man, c1530-40
Giuseppe Maria Crespi, A Woman Looking for Fleas, c1715-20
Johan Christian Dahl,  A Mother and Child by the Sea, 1840
André Derain, A Portrait of Bartolomeo Savona, 1906
Fernand Léger, Composition with Fruit, 1938
Howard Hodgkin,  Artificial Flowers, 1975
Frank Auerbach,  Primrose Hill - Winter, 1981-82