Preferring to celebrate the latest birthday on Friday rather than Monday, Rebecca and I took time to visit the Caravaggio exhibition at the National Gallery. A quick lesson learned about reading the small print and the exhibition title (‘Beyond Caravaggio’ involved lots of friends and acquaintances, with rather less of the master on show than expected). Of those there, the paintings from Caravaggio himself seemed to far outshine his contemporaries – but the exhibition is certainly worth a visit. We learned about light and dark, story-telling, metaphors and death. The evening lecture from Andrew Graham-Dixon was a revelation and revealed many dark secrets about the painter. The sandwich came from the excellent lunch at Le Gavroche – the set business lunch is really quite exceptional and recommended.
Tag Archives: art
A Caravaggio sandwich
Monet and Canary Wharf
Strange bedfellows, but an interesting combination on the day. We visited the Royal Academy ‘Painting the Modern Garden – Monet to Matisse’ back in February.
The paintings at the RA were wonderful. Particularly worthwhile for me were the ‘Gardens of Silence’ collection and the final hall with an enormous triptych that had been gathered together for the exhibition. Definitely worthwhile booking the first slot, getting there early and then starting at the end first.
We then shot to Canary Wharf via the DLR (go from Bank for a brilliant view of the City). Although I go there often Rebecca has never been and it is good to revisit through the eyes of a first time visitor. The new Cross Rail terminal is particularly impressive.
New phone with a photo scanning button…
PS We visited Monet’s garden in 2013 – as reported earlier.
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V&A Shoes: Pleasure and Pain
A late mention of the recent excellent exhibition at the V&A where there were shoes a plenty, from the lost Cinderella Swarovski crystal shoe, through the Red Shoes, Egyptian sandals, tudor boots, the latest 3D printed shoes and all places in between. I am sure there was a reason as to how they were laid out, but it passed me by. A quick tour round the fabulous Cast Rooms before lunch at the evergreen Bluebird. Unusually traffic disappeared from Regent Street from early evening onwards for the London Lumiere – so one obviously had to walk down the middle of the road to take advantage… Excellent lights in Leicester Square.
Reform at Open House London
Bravo to the team at Open House for another amazing opportunity to see inside London buildings not normally open to the general public. Chartered Accountants’ Hall normally joins in, but because of an extensive two year refurbishment decided to pass this year.
Due to an excellent seventy somethingth birthday thrown by Philip Taylor in the Reform (“in case he doesn’t make it to his 75th”) we actually awoke in one of the buildings in Open House. Being in Pall Mall, we thought a round trip of Marlborough House, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Banqueting House might be possible – and indeed it was.
All the buildings were stunning. Marlborough House (sadly unbeknownst to me before the visit) is a royal palace and the international HQ of the Commonwealth. Passing through the Blenheim Room (“one of the handsomest rooms in London”) we eventually made it to the State Drawing Room with the oversized meeting table set up for every country in the Commonwealth.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continued the theme of intimidating foreign visitors (back in them olden times) with spectacular architecture and art, the Locarno Suite being a highlight. What was surprising is how long this was hidden under plasterboard and pigeon droppings before being unearthed during extensive restoration in recent years (and still ongoing).
The Banqueting House has been on the to-do list for a long time, and it was worth the wait. The Rubens ceiling pays some time spent studying it, with some handily placed bean bags providing an ideal viewing opportunity as well as somewhere to rest!
We will certainly be back next year.
Victorias – Secret and Albert
Happy New Year – hope 2015 is good for you!
We had a last visit to London before work finally kicks off again. This time with Bex and Livi to the V&A, Bluebird and back to Waterloo via the West End. We split up in the V&A (allowing me to visit the amazing refurbished cast courts). We then went to another Victoria, this time the Secret one. A queue to get in (it wasn’t like that on the 23rd December!) – and Livi made various friends who spotted her bag and asked her where the store was. New Bond Street expensive as ever (we passed straight though) – but good window shopping (lèche-vitrines, apparently). Quick restorative at the Queen’s grocer before returning home.
Rembrandt and Alain Ducasse
Another birthday, another excuse to play hookey and do something else instead. This year consisted of a visit to the Rembrandt Late Works exhibition, another lunch deal at a noteworthy venue and a failed attempt to see the poppies at the Tower of London. Conclusions were (1) that the exhibition was rather overshadowed (much like the paintings) by the sheer number of people visiting the rather small galleries (not the case with Leonardo or Canaletto) and (2) the lunch deals at these wonderful restaurants really are worth considering. Although we missed the trip to the Tower on one of the old Routemasters still running, we did manage to catch a brief exhibition of new Routemasters in front of the National Gallery. I still hope to catch the poppies with a quick walk out from work one lunchtime.
Matisse and Brick Lane
Another visit to the excellent Tate Modern, this time to see the Matisse Cut-Outs. As ever, the best approach seems to be to book the first slot, then shoot to the end of the exhibition and work back (much fewer people!). Some impressive exhibits – we especially liked the Vence Chapel room as well as the stain glass Christmas Eve window at the end. Not sure Rebecca is a fan of The Snail, although the sheer size of the later exhibits was impressive.
M & L headed to Brick Lane early (too much culture) and checked out the ‘vintage’ shops (just like charity shops, except more expensive, apparently). Livi added to her DM collection, thanks to winning a Wagamama competition (asking for a pair of Docs rather than world peace).
Lunch was taken at the excellent Aladin (world’s best curry house, apparently, so congratulations definitely in order).
Veronese, Matisse and the Shard
Another day trip to London – a late birthday celebration for Rebecca. Without children, but with art. The day built up to an evening lecture, ‘On Colour: Veronese and Matisse’ by the two curators of the current exhibitions for these artists.
First to the Tate Modern to hunt down Matisse in the form of the ‘Portait of Greta Moll’ (1908), even though the talk and future exhibition is on his cut outs. Good to see, as the portrait was compared and contrasted to the ‘Portrait of a Venetian Woman’ (1560), with attention drawn to the background of the later portrait, comparing it to the white on the sleeves of the earlier painting.
A quick walk round the Tate Modern with some excellent and perhaps not such excellent artwork…
Next a visit to the Shard with a stop in Hutong (entered via the Shangri La hotel). Amazing views, particularly from the award-winning loos (with a view). Then onto the viewing gallery at the top with spectacular views all round.
Thence to the National Gallery and the Veronese exhibition. Not a particularly well known artist, perhaps, but magnificent pictures, use of colour and conflation of unexpected subjects (Christ and his apostles and the noble families of Venice paying for the pictures for example). Finally to the excellent talk on the two artists, who have often been referred to as ‘two of the great colourists of all time’. Bravo to Xavier F. Salomon and Nicholas Cullinan for an excellent lecture to round off the day.
Victoria and Albert – and Bluebird
How have we never visited the Victoria and Albert Museum? The V&A is a total revelation – and rather like the Science Museum, seemingly lacking the queues of the Natural History Museum. Something there for everyone – although it would take a long time to get round everything. The V&A was in between the seemingly obligatory visit to Carnaby Street and lunch at Bluebird – such an excellent venue.
A bleeding chocolatey Lichtenstein day
In celebration of Rebecca’s birthday, we ventured to the Bleeding Heart restaurant (‘a collection of hidden gems’) before checking out Choccywoccydoodah in London (meant nothing to me, but heavily into chocolate). It has to be said the hot chocolate was perhaps a little too sweet. Then onto the main event, the excellent exhibition ‘Lichtenstein: A Retrospective’ at the Tate Modern. An interesting evening talk followed by an unhurried look around the exhibition.