*** Janet Wells’ review of the Arts, Gallery and Museum scene. ***

Barbican Arts Centre

Isamu Noguchi in Machu Picchu, Peru 1983. Photo by Michio Noguchi, Noguchi Museum Archives.

Play Equipment, Isamu Noguchi design with Shoji Sadao (architect), Sopporo Japan 1988 -2004 (cINFGM/ARS -DACS).


The Japanese American, Isamu Noguchi: 30th Sep–9th Jan 2022

Mostly known as an icon of mid-century design for his celebrated coffee table and Akari lights, Noguchi pushed the boundaries of sculpture by embracing social, environmental and spiritual consciousness.

This exhibition appears to be timely; coming as it does as we need, more than ever, scientists, artists, architects, engineers and politicians to focus on the present serious social and environmental issues here and elsewhere.

Isamu Noguchi (1904 -1988) believed in art and design’s social role, and he dedicated much of his life to creating public works such as parks, plazas and playgrounds – so important to those of us, who live in high-rise urbanizations.

Noguchi was born in Los Angeles; his mother, Leonie Gilmore, an American writer, his father the poet, Yonejiro Noguchi:  His parents were never married and although Isamu lived with his mother in Japan from the age of two until he returned alone to the USA in 1918, (to continue his education) he didn’t, until much later, get to know his father.   

Isamu Noguchi, an Internationalist travelled extensively throughout his life: With a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 1927, he went to Paris.  In Mexico, he discovered the impact of large-scale public works; Earthy ceramics in Japan, ink-brush techniques in China and the purity of marble in Italy.  His work, at once subtle and bold, traditional and modern, set a new standard for the reintegration of the arts.   

This exhibition presents an extensive range of his vast interdisciplinary output, from his early apprenticeship with modern master Constantin Brancusi in Paris to his public and political art projects of the 1930’s and the radical dance collaborations (his half-sister Ailes Gilmore was part of the American Modern Dance Movement) Noguchi worked with the pioneering modern choreographers, Ruth Page and Martha Graham.  It delves into his celebrated interlocking sculptures produced during the 1940s. They comprise multiple parts to be assembled and dissembled, displaying Noguchi’s outstanding creativity in the face of adversity during the second world war. 

The exhibition also highlights his close and enduring friendship with the inventor and futurist, R. Buckminster Fuller.    This dialogue inspired Noguchi’s world consciousness and continued use of new technology, while bringing sculpture to everyday households, in line with the artist’s democratic commitment to public art.

Drawing from The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum in New York as well as private and public collections, the exhibition brings together over 150 works, including an extraordinary range of sculptures – created in stone, bronze, ceramics, wood, aluminum and galvanized steel – as well as theater set designs, architectural and playground models, lighting and furniture design.

A programme of events will accompany the exhibition. Check the website for full listings. www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery

This exhibition is supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

The Curve -Barbican Centre

Shilpa Gupta: 7th Oct–6th Feb 2022

In your Tongue, I cannot Fit, 2017 -18.  Photo by Pat Verbruggan.

This, a newly commissioned piece built on Shilpa Gupta’s “For in your Tongue, I Cannot Fit“ (2017-18), is  an immersive multi-channel installation which comprises 100 microphones suspended above 100 metal spikes, each piercing a page inscribed with a fragmented verse of poetry by a poet incarcerated for their work, writings, or beliefs.   In addition – for its London premiere in the Curve – Gupta presents a new body of work extending on the research and themes present in the installation.  This includes the artist’s first pair of motion flapboards which further expand on Gupta’s use of sound, language and her practice.  Used historically as departure boards within airports or train stations – Gupta’s boards, via independent utterance, enter an uneasy poetic dialogue with one another interrogating dynamics of control and circumventions.

Supported by the Henry Moore Foundation and using public funding from Arts Council England.

Mon–Sun 10–7pm Admission Free

Tate Britain

You might be able to catch Paula Rego Retrospective: 7th Jul–24th Oct

However, there is time before Hogarth and Europe 3rd Nov–20th Mar 2022
How William Hogarth and artists across Europe captured the new modernity of the 18th century.  European society had changed dramatically:  This was an age of opportunity and change, enlightenment, and innovation, but also materialism, exploitation and injustice.  tate.org.uk

The Royal Academy

Summer Exhibition: 22nd Sep–2nd Jan 2022

Yinka Shonibae RA is the coordinator of this year’s Summer Exhibition, and working with the Summer Exhibition Committee, the theme they will explore will be “Reclaiming Magic” to show the joy of making art.

Late Constable:   30th Oct – 13th Feb 2022                  
Drawings and paintings from Constable’s final years.  

A Boat Passing a Lock 1826,  Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy presents the first survey of the late works of John Constable (1776 -1837).  Late Constable explores the last twelve years of the artists career, from 1825 until his death in 1837.  Characterized by the expressive broad-brush strokes that defined his later work, the exhibition brings together paintings, watercolours, sketches, drawings and prints. 

Whitechapel Gallery

Next to Aldgate East Underground Station.                                                             

Phantoms of Surrealism: 12th Dec          

This archive exhibition, Phantoms of Surrealism examines the pivotal role of women as both artists and as behind-the scenes organizers within Surrealism in Britain in the 1930s

Closed Mondays.   Open Tue– Sun 11- 6pm   

Small Museums

The other day I got to visit the fascinating Dennis Severs’ House in Spitalfields and thought to have a look at the other small museums that have now re-opened their doors.  

All Venues continue with timed tickets and if possible, face covers should be worn.  

Dennis Severs’ House: 18 Folgate Street, E1 Tel: 020 7247 4013    There is a range of tour options so I recommend you visit their website in order to find something that suits you.                                                                 

Dickens House: 48 Doughty Street, WC1 Tel:  020 7405 2127
Open Wed – Sun 10-5 £9.50 Seniors £7.50 Children £4.50  

Freud Museum: 20 Maresfield Gardens, NW3 Tel: 020 7435 2002
5min from Finchley Rd Station.  Open Wed, Sat, Sun. 

Horniman Museum and Gardens: Tel: 0208 699 1872
Open daily (except Wed) 10-5.30 Butterfly House 10.30–4pm.  Free    

Sir John Soane  Museum: 13 Lincoln Inn Fields, WC2A Tel: 0207 405 2107
Wed– Sun 10–5 last in 4.14.  Five minutes from Holborn Station.  Free                 

Dr Johnson’s House:  17 Gough Square, EC4 Tel: 020 7353 3745   
Open Fri and Sat 11–5pm  Closed Sunday  Timed entry via Eventbrite   
Adults £8, Nat Trust £4, Concessions £7, Child £3.50

Regarding access it is best first to check on websites.