Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008
National Portrait Gallery
A simply stunning collection where the photographers are as famous as their sitters. There were portraits by Edward Steichen, Man Ray, Cecil Beaton, Helmut Newton, MarioTestino, Herb Ritts, and the golden child of Vanity Fair , Annie Lebovitz. I didn't know that Vanity Fair was initially in publication from 1913-1936. The portraits of that era included Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Cary Grant, Amelia Earhart, Katherine Hepburn, Frida Kahlo, and Jesse Owens. The publisher, Conde Nast, decided to republish the magazine in the late 1980s. The subjects were artists, politicians, glitterati, musicians, actors, and the likes. The images were framed beautifully and the printing was impeccable.
The Royal Academy of the Arts
An opportunity I never thought I would have to see French and Russian masterworks outside St. Petersburg and Moscow. Some of the gems of the show included Matisse's The Dance (pictured) which is huge and and almost blindingly vibrant. Also on display was Matisse's Red Room (Harmony in Red) from 1908. The work spanned from the French impressionists to the Constructavists. Kasamir Malevich's Red Square, Painterly Realism of a Peasant Women in Two Dimensions (1915) is perhaps the most beautifully imperfect square one could ask for.
Breaking the Rules: The Printed Face of the European Avant Garde 1900-1937
The British Library
A very unique exhibit that examined the avant garde in print throughout Europe. The show was organized by European city and had beautiful examples of books by poets, writers, and artists. The show explored the early 20th century in terms of "-isms," or art movements with examples from Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Dadaism, Constructivism, and Surrealism. It was a fascinating show, you tend to forgets that art had the ability to change history at one time.
Duchamp, Man Ray, and Picabia
The Tate Modern
This show explored the friendship between the three artists: Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and Francis Picabia, who were key figures in the modernist art movement. Through their lifelong correspondence and collaborations we got to peek into the minds and inspirations of the three men. Picabia was the most traditional of the three, he continued to paint on canvas through his entire career. Presented alongside his canvases are the early works of Duchamp and Man Ray. One tends to forget that they too were painters. Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase is often forgotten when Fountain (pictured above) is also on display. Both Picabia and Duchamp had a keen fascination with machines and it was reflected in a series of works by both artists. Duchamp and Man Ray also had a lifelong obsession with the game of chess. They were both stellar players and used the game as inspiration for work. Although often time the three men were on very different paths, they did not cease to communicate. The telegram Duchamp sent to Picabia on his deathbed is a touching example of the affinity the three had for each other.