Destination: England: London
London Update: Fall 2013
Since its inception in 2003, London’s Frieze Week (October 16-20) has been the unofficial start of the British capital’s cultural season. The trio of fairs, Frieze, Frieze Masters and PAD bring the art world cognoscenti to the city, thereby encouraging museums, galleries and myriad other arts outlets to display their highlights.
Navigate the British capital with Indagare’s mapped out guide.
1. Fine Arts: Fairs
Indagare partnered with 1stdibs.com, the premier antique marketplace website, to provide tips on how to best navigate the fair—and London—during this exciting season. Check out our London guide on 1stdibs.com and read about more arts events, from Madame Butterfly to an exhibition celebrating pearls at the V&A.
2. Fine Arts: Paintings
Leading auctioneers Sotheby’s and Christie’s are holding exhibitions this fall at their fresh gallery spaces in Mayfair. Sotheby’s is extending its S|2 brand by building new space on St George Street, opposite the rear entrance of their Bond Street location. They plan to host five shows a year here, organized by Sotheby’s specialists and guest curators (the first exhibition is on German artist Joseph Beuys). Meanwhile, Christie’s is hosting When Britain Went Pop! at its new space on New Bond Street. Some of the works by such Pop Art heavyweights as Richard Hamilton, Peter Blake, Patrick Caulfield and David Hockney, will be for sale. Don’t miss one of the first works ever sold by Hockney with its original £12 price tag.
The highly respected Victoria Miro Gallery is returning to its Mayfair roots and opening a gallery on St George Street, just a few minutes walk from Miro’s first gallery on Cork Street. The inaugural show is the European debut of 84-year old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s white Infinity Net paintings. These hallucinatory works “are just one manifestation of the psychological ill-health that has plagued the artist for most of her life,” says the gallery release. Kusama is a single-minded, highly original and captivating artist who works in several oeuvres and produces often dizzying works that can’t be categorized into any one specific artistic movement.
Off-the-beaten-path gem, Dulwich Picture Gallery, is showing An American in London: Whistler at the Thames. The exhibit includes works by the American artist during his time in London, from 1859 until his death in 1903. Over 60 works including paintings, prints, watercolors, pastels and drawings will be on display, complemented by historical photographs that help viewers place Whistler’s depictions of Dickensian London.
3. Fine Arts: Design & Installations
At the V&A, stop in at Tomorrow, a site-specific work by Scandinavian contemporary artists Elmgreen & Dragset. The creative duo creates whimsical, off-the-wall installations, such as a full-scale replica of a Prada boutique (permanent but not trading) near Marfa in the middle of the Texas desert. “Tomorrow” is set in an apartment belonging to a fictional, elderly and disillusioned architect. Viewers can sit on the sofa, browse through the man’s books and magazines or read the script prepared by Elmgreen & Dragset. The apartment will be furnished by pieces from the V&A, alongside works by the artists and items sourced from antiques markets.
Finally, after marveling at Zaha Hadid’s glorious fluid designs at the new Serpentine Sackler Gallery (the prolific architect’s first completed, permanent structure in central London), fans of the Anglo-Iraqi architect should stop in at David Gill’s gallery on King Street. There Hadid is unveiling another first, a scale model of a “super yacht” that she has produced for yacht builders Blohm and Voss. Also at the gallery will be one of her signature otherworldly liquid glacial tables.
4. Fine Arts: Jewels
In other sparkling news, Pearls at the Victoria & Albert promises to be an enchanting exhibition tracing the history and fashion of this lustrous jewel of the sea from the early Roman Empire to the present. Long a sign of wealth, status and style, pearls have adorned everyone from ruling monarchs to 1920’s flappers. Whether an exotic pink conch, blue-green abalone or rare tangerine-hued Melo set in a tiara or a Maharaja’s coat, this magnificent jewel has held its allure through the ages. Highlights of the show, which features over 200 pieces of jewelry, include a pearl-drop earring worn by Charles I at his execution in 1646, a necklace of cultured pearls given to Marilyn Monroe by Joe DiMaggio in 1954 and one of contemporary designer Sam Tho Duong’s Frozen necklaces, consisting of multiple tiny pearls arranged on twig-like pieces. These fascinating works are inspired by the laying of frost or ice atop trees, bushes and branches.
The Cheapside Hoard: London’s Lost Jewels displays the cache of priceless Elizabethan and Jacobean jewelry and gemstones that was found buried in a London cellar in 1912. The show, debuting at the Museum of London, highlights such pieces as a salamander pin made of emeralds. The show explores the mystery of the jewels, which, like Sleeping Beauty, look just as beautiful and relevant today as they did when they were buried nearly four centuries ago.
5. Performing Arts
Expectations are high for Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts at the Almeida, hot on the heels of hit play Chimerica (it has since transferred to the West End). Ghosts with its star-studded cast and talented Richard Eyre as director is sure to be worth the trek to Islington. Other Almeida news: award-winning Rupert Goold has taken over from Sir Michael Attenborough as Artistic Director.
Next up at the Harold Pinter Theatre in November will be Mojo, a fast-paced comedy about the seedy rock n’ roll world of Soho in the 1950’s. The same thespian pair who collaborated on sensation Jerusalem, namely writer Jez Butterworth and director Ian Rickson, are teaming up again and have recruited a star-studded cast including actors Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) and Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey).
While Shakespeare fans are disappointed to hear that A Midsummer Night’s Dream is sold out and Much Ado About Nothing is getting poor reviews (James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave are reportedly past their sell-by dates for these parts), London still has plenty to offer Shakespeare devotees. Jude Law and ex-Donmar Warehouse director Michael Grandage continue their collaboration with a new production of Henry V. The play about nationhood opens at the Noel Coward Theatre on November 23rd. Finally, Richard II, starring David Tennant in the title role will be transferring from Shakespeare’s home of Stratford-Upon-Avon to London’s Barbican in early December.
In opera news, the late Anthony Minghella’s production Madame Butterfly is returning to the English National Opera. The award-winning performance was originally hailed by the Sunday Telegraph as “the most beautiful show of the year in operatic London.” Minghella’s original lead, Mary Plazas, shares the title role with renowned soprano Dina Kuznetsova.
Celebrated dancer Carlos Acosta is giving a modern twist to the classical but fun and approachable ballet Don Quixote. This will be Acosta’s first work for the Royal Ballet as Guest Artist. Working with leading designer Tim Hatley and lighting expert Hugh Vanstone, Acosta is promising to bring Spanish flair to the production. For more contemporary dance, Sun at Sadler’s Wells is a new, edgy show by Hofesh Shechter.
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