Terrains of the Body: Photography from the National Museum of Women in the Arts
Whitechapel Gallery have looked over the pond for this one, visiting The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington to form a group show that showcases the role of women in contemporary art. The result: a photography and video display with works from 17 female artists who turn their camera to women, including themselves, with the aim of embracing the female body as a medium for storytelling, affirming identity and reflecting on both the individual and collective experience. Originally conceived to tie in with the inauguration of the first female US President, consider this more of a riposte to the shenanigans going on in Washington and the T man about to take office.
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John Soane Museum
Left exactly as it was when he died, the house of 19th century architect John Soane is a three-house-wide labyrinth of curiosities. On display is an incredible array of famous artworks, sculptures, furniture and artefacts. If you have limited time be sure to check out the sarcophagus of the Egyptian king and the picture room in which the famous painted series 'The Rake's Progress' by William Hogarth hangs. But don't come with limited time - everything is worth swooning over for quite a while. Entrance is free.
History can be an elusive and difficult beast to get to grips with, which is more or less the theme of this group exhibition, where 8 contemporary African artists carry out a deep examination of the mechanics of history. Here each artist looks at the past, or their own past, to engage in the act of storytelling, or to put it another way, historytelling. Through sculpture, drawing, photography, artefacts and video, this is an exploration of retrospective and the idea of the historical narrative, mainly based on the continent of Africa.
John Baldessari: Miro and Life in General
Showing that being slightly longer in the tooth need not stop those creative juices, 85 year old Californian artist John Baldessari brings his latest conceptual creations to Marian Goodman. Creating stuff since the 60s, the prolific artist is known for making work that explores the relationship between photographs, text and painting in a witty and ironic way, and that's what you'll get at this one. In each of these works, Baldessari has paired a detail from one particular painting from the Spanish surrealist painter Joan Miro with a seemingly random Hollywood film still, which has been partially painted. The result is conceptual art that serves as a kind of humorous musing on art, and life itself.
Innovative and irreverent are two words that often find themselves close by when the British artist Eduardo Paolozzi is mentioned. And the Whitechapel are celebrating the so called 'Godfather of Pop Art' at this retrospective which takes a good old look at his varied, humorous and experimental oeuvre that spanned 5 decades; from the 1950s to the swinging sixties and the Cool Britannia vibe of the 90s. That's quite a period of time to be doing it, so it's no wonder that there will be lots on show here: over 250 of his works, divided into four chronological sections. From post-war bronzes to revolutionary screen prints and collages; bold fashion designs and rarely exhibited drawings and sculptures. This is worth getting to as Paolozzi was a guy who always rejected artistic conventions and was unafraid to test the limits when critiquing popular culture. See it as a history lesson from a surprisingly innovative teacher.