Want to see the new Kusama exhibition? Join the queue!

Kusama pumpkinsBack in 2012 the Tate Modern staged a major retrospective of the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama which featured several of her infinity rooms – spaces which use mirror to give the illusion of vast distances. I remember lingering in them at my leisure, admiring the infinitely receding spots (a Kusama trademark). But that’s all in the past. Nowadays Kusama is hot, and to see her infinity rooms at the Victoria Miro gallery you need to queue. Continue reading

Overwhelmed by Opulence at the V&A European Galleries

Meissen table fountain 1745 V&AThe V&A have been redoing their Europe 1600 to 1815 Galleries for ages. So long, in fact, that we were beginning to think that they would never reopen. But, just before Christmas they did, and Yannick and I rushed down to take a look. The new galleries hold over a thousand objects of 17th and 18th century European art and design in a suite of seven galleries, including some of the most magnificent works held by the V&A. Continue reading

Don’t overlook the Household Cavalry Museum

Household Cavalry MuseumThere’s a charming little museum right in the heart of London, a stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square, that I’m willing to bet you’ve never been to. Somehow it slips under the radar, perhaps because it’s such a specialist subject, or maybe because of its location, tucked away at the back of Horse Guards (you know, where they do the Trooping the Colour). But Yannick and I have ferreted it out – here’s what we found. Continue reading

Gold and glass and Hello Kitty – the refurbished Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art at the V&A

Kimono design V&AThe V&A have just reopened their refurbished Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art so, as you would expect, Yannick and I rushed down to have a look. And guess what? We really liked it. It’s a lovely mixture of of over five hundred objects, both old favourites and new acquisitions, all displayed in a layout reminiscent of a traditional Japanese house. Continue reading

Celts -the new blockbuster at the British Museum

Celts

Who were the Celts? Well, actually, we’re not quite sure. The new blockbuster exhibition at the British Museum tells us the people who lived in Britain and Ireland two thousand years ago never thought of themselves as Celts, and nor did the Romans when they were part of the Roman Empire. It wasn’t until the sixteenth century that the term started to be used to describe the pre-Romans of Western Europe and then the languages of Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man. Continue reading

Cotton to Gold at Two Temple Place

Cotton to GoldIn the nineteenth century, the textile industry in the North West was booming, making the factory owners rich beyond the dreams of avarice. What did they do with this huge wealth? Well, some of them at least spent it on amassing some amazing collections of art and natural objects. Like Roman coins, medieval manuscripts, Turner watercolours, Tiffany glass, Japanese prints, Byzantine icons, ivory sculptures, preserved beetles and a Peruvian mummy, which all feature in the current exhibition at Two Temple Place. Continue reading

Magnificent Obsessions at the Barbican

Magnificent ObsessionsMagnificent Obsessions, the new exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, turns our usual idea of the relationship of artist and collector on its head. Normally, artists produce art and collectors collect it. But what do artists themselves collect? A very varied range of things is the answer, as the Barbican sets out to show us. Continue reading

Basho and Wordsworth – more in common than you’d think

Basho and wordsworthIt’s a bit far for a day trip, but up in Cumbria there’s an exhibition on called Wordsworth and Basho: Walking Poets. It’s at the Wordsworth Museum, next to Dove Cottage where William Wordsworth wrote some of his greatest poetry. It features manuscripts and early printed editions of work written by Basho, Wordsworth, and Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy, who is now recognised as a significant writer in her own right, as well as new works by contemporary artists responding to the manuscripts and what originally inspired them. The theme, and the connection it makes between two such different poets, sounds fascinating. Continue reading

The Ming Exhibition at the British Museum

Chinese Warriors I went along to the new Ming exhibition at the British Museum just because I wanted to see it, not thinking it would have much of a Japanese aspect to qualify it for a blog post. But, as so often happens, once I got there I found all sorts of references to Japan – not really surprising when you consider that Japan is China’s nearest neighbour after Korea. So here’s a Japanese take on a Chinese exhibition for you. Continue reading

Tattoo Art at Somerset House

Kazuaki ‘Horitomo’ KitamuraLet’s get one thing clear to start with – the artworks in Tattoo Art aren’t tattoos. They’re works in other media by artists who normally specialise in tattooing. It’s a very mixed bag, and some of the works were pretty horrible (deliberately so), but there were others which definitely earned their place on the Somerset House Embankment Gallery walls.  Continue reading