Four London Art Exhibitions, November 2016

You say you want a Revolution, is a large, complex exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, covering the 1960s. There is a terrific book accompanying this ambitious and important show (available in the library at UWE).  Having lived through the period it occasionally felt strange to see it presented in a show, as though such a show could really reflect the reality of peoples lives.  Costume played a secondary role in this show, posters, publications, film and music featured strongly, as did politics.

Poster for Arthur Brown concert
Poster for Arthur Brown concert

The use of music in this show is more marked than is usual at the V & A; most of the music is available through the web of course; some tracks stood out, especially Country Joe and the Fish.

Overall the show avoids nostalgia and tries to explore to some extent the feelings many young people experienced during the period.  I would have liked to have asked some of the many school children present what they thought and felt about the show.

Picasso Portraits, at The National Portrait Gallery. Billed as a major show and quite expensive (£17.50) I admit I was expecting more. And why does this gallery take money from the ‘capitalist vampire squid’, Goldman Sachs?

Olga Picasso
Olga Picasso

But overall I was not disappointed, mainly because I like Picasso’s work and am old enough to remember when he was widely denigrated.  There were a number of tiny ink sketches I found quite revealing.  It is ironic to see the art critics from the Daily Telegraph et al drooling over a man they largely despised when he was alive.

Bob Dylan, The Beaten Path, at the Halcyon Gallery.  This large, free exhibition had more than 60 paintings – mainly large water colours -and as many sketches, most of which had been sold.  Prices were modest by west London art standards, paintings sold for around £3350.  Dylan’s art is about as popular with the critics as Jack Vettriano or the late Beryl Cook, and seemingly just as popular with the public as the latter two.  I enjoyed the work, which was mostly American landscapes, mainly urban scenes, and I certainly felt inspired to try a similar style.

Bob Dylan Train Tracks
Bob Dylan Train Tracks

Dylan finds something meaningful in otherwise unremarkable scenes, I wish I could have bought a painting.  (And afterwards one might pop  into Jimmy Choo’s next door and blow the change from £4k on a pair of shoes.)

20th Century Modern British Sculpture and Drawings, at Brown & Derby, Cork St.
Quite a range of work in this small, free gallery, including Kenneth Armitage, Reg Butler, Anthony Caro and Barbara Hepworth.  The gallery changes it’s display monthly and it is always worth a visit.

Ken Armitage Two Figures
Ken Armitage Two Figures