Azara Blog: Exhibitions at the Royal Academy

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Date published: 2009/03/22

The Royal Academy, as usual, has some good exhibitions on.

"Byzantium 330-1453" finished its run today (so it ran 25 Oct 2008 - 22 Mar 2009). As often on last days, it was pretty crowded, which meant lots of queuing to see lots of the artifacts. The selection was eclectic, but pretty much as to be expected. So lots of nice ivory panels, and lots of icons. They even had a large mosaic floor, amazingly enough. And several examples of so-called micromosaic art works. And there was a roomful of work (mostly icons) from St Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, so an opportunity to see things that would otherwise be difficult to ever get to see.

Meanwhile "Andrea Palladio: His Life and Legacy" is also getting close to finishing (so running 31 Jan - 13 Apr 2009). It was put on in celebration of the 500th anniversary of his birth (in 1508) and has already been to Vicenza and is heading next to Barcelona and then Madrid. Palladio did not have a vast output but became famous and had a large influence on Western architecture because of his treatise "Quattro Libri dell'Architettura" (The Four Books of Architecture), which in particular promoted his own designs. Inigo Jones and other British architects latched onto this style and in some sense it still survives to this day since even new British country houses (e.g. by Robert Adam) are often still based on a Palladian concept. The exhibition had lots of drawings from the RIBA collection, and amazing wood models from the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio in Vicenza.

And upstairs in the Sackler Gallery just starting was "Kuniyoshi" (from the Arthur R. Miller Collection), running 21 Mar - 7 Jun 2009 before heading over to the Japan Society in New York. Kuniyoshi was a print artist of roughly the same era as Hokusai and Hiroshige and although not quite as famous as those two, produced some amazing work, especially with a military subject. He also did lots of prints with supposedly beautiful women in them (since that apparently made money) but the women are totally stylised with pretty much the same face, so it's not obvious why they were supposed to be beautiful. The works on display were pretty varied and definitely worth seeing.

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