The below is a (chronological) record of my artistic and cultural consumption for the month of September 2012. I have yet to find a good website that would enable me to keep track of all the stuff I do and see, so at the moment this blog will have to do.
Strictly speaking, I started my cultural month in Milan, where my very much needed – and somewhat deserved – holiday in Italy was ending, with a visit to the Museo del Novecento (the “Museum of the 20th Century”).
Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, The Fourth Estate, Museo del Novecento
Back in London, this is what I’ve been up to.
The Estorick Collection and the “In Astratto” Exhibition
In the near future I’ll write a whole blog about the Estorick, the only gallery devoted to modern Italian art in the UK, so I’ll be brief here. Last month I paid them a visit to see the “In astratto” exhibition, which explored abstraction in Italy between 1930 and 1980. I even attended a free lecture on Futurism after WWI, on the last sultry afternoon of 2012 in London – perhaps not the wisest of choices since there were so few of them…
Damien Hirst at Tate Modern
Sometimes I live dangerously: sometimes I wait until the very last day of a major exhibition to see it. Sometimes, as a result, I don’t get to see it because it’s sold out (and I forever regret the only opportunity to see two versions of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Virgin of the Rocks” together). Fortunately this was not the case, and I managed to see this major retrospective of Hirst’s work. I was happy to be able to finally form an opinion on this ex-YBA who seems to have somewhat fallen out from grace recently.
My flatmate, who’s slightly older than me, claims he liked Hirst in the nineties already, before he became super famous (Hirst, not my flatmate). Anyway, I must say I was pleasantly surprised: there were quite a few very clever ideas that made me smile or reflect.
That visit was also the occasion for a quick (probably too quick) look at the newly opened Tate Tanks.
NB: I paid reduced ticket price thanks to my National Art Pass :)
Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living
The Old Operating Theatre (with Love Art London)
I had never heard of this most unusual museum before my visit, which was organised by Love Art London and led by the museum’s chief curator Karen Howell. The Old Operating Theatre Museum features Europe’s oldest operating theatre and is located in a unique space in the Herb Garret of St Thomas Church.
Bring on fab atmospheric location, old medicine and apothecary instruments, and demonstration of amputation techniques in the good old times when anaesthetics didn’t exist. The Old Operating Theatre is one of the quirkiest museums I’ve seen, and I definitely recommend it, especially if you are into medicine.
“Mademoiselle Julie” at the Barbican
Back in July a friend of mine suggested booking tickets for Strindberg’s famous play, performed in French, in a French production (by Frédéric Fisbach), and… starring Juliette Binoche herself. The play ended up being the talk of the town, and I was very glad I caught the second performance.
I thought the production was quite nice, modern in an elegant way, and I liked Binoche’s performance. I found Nicolas Bouchaud as Jean less convincing (a bit stiff). Juliette Binoche’s costumes were designed by Lanvin’s Albert Elbaz, and were very chic indeed. On a side note, I would be very grateful if someone could explain to me what the silent man in a rabbit mask was representing.
Juliette Binoche in Mademoiselle Julie at the Barbican (© Christophe Raynaud de Lage – Festival d’Avignon)
The Magic Flute at the ENO
Together with Carmen, Die Zauberflöte is my absolute favourite opera. The English National Opera was presenting a revival of their “traditional” production by Nicholas Hytner of Mozart’s masterpiece, celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Although the staging was a bit too classical for my taste, and despite the fact that the opera was sung in English (as is customary at the ENO), Mozart’s music did the trick, as always. And it was nice being back at the Coliseum, 12 years after my initial visit – which actually coincided with my first time ever at the opera.
The Magic Flute at ENO (Alistair Muir)
Viewing of the Design Auction at Phillips de Pury (with Love Art London)
I love design, I really do. This is why I had been waiting impatiently for that particular Love Art London gig since it had been announced: a behind-the-scene tour of Phillips de Pury’s autumn Design Auction, with specialists Marine Hartogs and Meaghan Roddy. Of course I fell in love with several pieces, including these sublime Venetian pots by glass artist Yoichi Ohira.
Design Auction at Phillips de Pury, September 2012
My month ended with a visit to the studio of British portrait artist Nicola Green, with Love Art London again.
The purpose of this post is not simply to list all of the cool things I saw and did last month. I would really like to start a conversation here. Have you seen any of these shows, exhibitions and museums? Did you think they were brilliant? Were you disappointed? Either way, let me know. And let me know if I’ve missed something that was, well… unmissable.