Last chance ...
Sunday, the 21st of January, will be the last day to see these three remarkable art exhibitions in London:
1. Rachel Whiteread at Tate Britain
In this important retrospective, Tate looks back over 30 years of Rachel Whiteread's sculptures. Winner of the Turner Prize in 1993, Whiteread creates sculptures by casting the inside of familiar domestic objects such as a hot water, a mattress or a bathtub.
One of her iconic and most ambitious works commissioned by Artangel is Untitled (House), 1993, a life-size concrete cast of the inside of a terraced house in the East End, now demolished and documented in a film projected at the exhibition. Some will remember also her public art commission, Monument (2001), a water-clear resin cast of the inside of the granite plinth which was the third sculpture created for the empty Fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.
For this special exhibition, the interior walls of Tate Britain's gallery room have been removed to create a huge single gallery and the effect is stunning. Whitehead's various casting materials (plaster, resin, rubber, concrete, metal and paper) and light colours such as lilac, rose, yellow contribute to give a poetic dimension to her work.
In the first half of the Duveen sculpture court, visitors are welcome by Whiteread’s Untitled (One Hundred Spaces) 1995 featuring 100 casts of the spaces to be found under chairs. In the other half of the sculpture court, the British artist has selected a number of sculptures from Tate’s collection including works by Anthony Caro, Sarah Lucas and Barbara Hepworth.
Whiteread's casts which became her signature have an important place in postwar sculpture and this is an exhibition not to be missed particularly if you are interested in contemporary sculpture.
2. Thomas Ruff: Photographs 1979-2017 at the Whitechapel Gallery
Thomas Ruff is part of the Dusseldorf School of Photography, the group of photographers who studied at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf under the influential photographers Bernd and Hiller Becher. This first retrospective in the UK Photographs 1979 - 2017 includes some of Ruff's large scale portraits of young German adults from the series Porträts (1986-1991). It also shows his various experimentations such as the green-tinged monochrome images of Düsseldorf streets from the series Nächte (1992-1996) using a low-light vision camera employed during the first Gulf War for identifying targets and Fotogramme a series of abstracts started in 2012 combining photogram with the latest digital and 3 D technology.
This is the first major survey of Thomas Ruff in the UK and a must see for anyone interested in photography. London will continue this year to offer an exceptional programme of contemporary photography with a major retrospective of another member of the Düsseldorfer Photoschule, Andreas Gursky at the Hayward Gallery starting on 25 January 2018.
3. Soutine's Portraits: Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys at The Courtauld Gallery
This is a first major exhibition of works by Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943) in the UK in 35 years. It is also the first thematic exhibition that explore exclusively the portraits of service staff (21 of them) from the Parisian hotels and restaurants fashionable in the 1920s, the glorious period in Paris.
Chaïm Soutine was born in the small Jewish town of Smilovichi near Minsk and studied in Vilnius before moving to Paris in 1913. There he initially lived in the famous artists’ residence “La Ruche”. He lived in poverty together with other immigrant artists such as his close friend Amedeo Modigliani. (This period is explored by another great exhibition on Modigliani's portraits currently at Tate Modern until the 2d of April). The year 1923 marked a turning point in Soutine's life. His work and in particular The Little Pastry Chef came to the attention of the American collector Albert Barnes. Barnes bought 52 of Soutine’s works from the art dealer Leo Zborowski. Soutine became a leading representative of the School of Paris.
The portraits of maids, valets, pastry cooks, bellboys, butcher boys with their exaggerated features are incredibly expressive. The focus on the uniforms and body language, the violent brushstrokes, the vivid colours linking different parts of each composition have really to be seen in the flesh.
This nice video produced for the exhibition gives an idea of the exhibited works.
Soutine's impact on modern art is compelling and this exhibition is a rare opportunity to focus on a particular series of portraits and on the artist's interest in the human condition.