The summer holiday season rarely sees new art exhibitions opening and this year is no different, with a review of RA Magazine’s inbox yielding next to naught in terms of private views in the next fortnight. So this week’s pick of exhibitions is a 'last chance' round-up of some London shows that are well worth viewing before they close their doors over the next two weeks.
Damian Ortega: Apestraction Art
Freud Museum, until 1 September 2013
A trip to the Heath to enjoy the August weather can be complemented by a visit to Hampstead’s Freud Museum,
where the Mexican artist Damián Ortega is the subject of a solo show. Freud would have had fun analyzing Ortega’s oeuvre of uncanny assemblages and sculptures.
© Damian Ortega.
The exhibition features works Ortega made in response to his journey to Gashaka, Nigeria, to observe the region’s chimpanzees – from a mask made of coconut to a wooden hand with Swiss-army-knife appendages, his pieces probe the differences and similarities between man and ape.
Sturtevant: Leaps, Jumps and Bumps
Serpentine Gallery, until 26 August 2013
Although an established figure in the international art world (the winner of a lifetime achievement award at the Venice Biennale in 2011, for instance), the American artist Elaine Sturtevant – known simply as Sturtevant – has her first solo show in the UK this summer, at the Serpentine.
STURTEVANT, Installation view, STURTEVANT: LEAPS JUMPS AND BUMPS, Serpentine Gallery, London (28 June - 26 August 2013) © 2013 Jerry Hardman-Jones.
From the 1960s she has replicated the paintings, sculptures, videos and performances of other artists, from Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Beuys to Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Is Sturtevant a canny commentator on the repetition of images and ideas in the modern world, or a just a banal copyist? Decide by catching the show before it closes in a week’s time.
Tony Bennett , 1965. Front cover for London Life magazine.
Ian Dury: More than Fair
Royal College of Art, until 1 September 2013
Close to the Serpentine across Kensington Gore, the Royal College of Art
presents the art of alumnus Ian Dury, the famed frontman of bands The Blockheads and Kilburn & The Highroads (the latter, incidentally, had painter Humphrey Ocean RA as its bassist).
Taught by Peter Blake at the RCA, his works appear avowedly Pop in character, with paintings and drawings that juxtapose text with images of celebrities drawn from print and broadcast media.
Travel Photographer of the Year 2013, Royal Geographical Society, until 18 August and The Press Photographer's Year 2013, National Theatre, until 31 August
After the RCA or the Serpentine this weekend, a quick visit to the nearby Royal Geographical Society
is worthwhile, to see the annual Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition. But higher standards for the medium are set at The Press Photographer's Year show, on view at the foyer of the National Theatre
until the end of the month. Photographs are chosen from all the main journalistic categories, such as news, features, sports, entertainment and photo essay: the latter category has been won by Andrew McConnell’s series of images of Gaza Strip surfboarders.
Grace Kelly 1955 for Cosmopolitan. ©The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld. Blumenfeld Studio: New York, 1941–1960
Somerset House, until 1 September 2013
Photography fans should certainly see the retrospective of the Berlin-born photographer Erwin Blumenfeld at Somerset House.
The go-to guy for fashion magazines in the 1940s and ’50s, Blumenfeld formed the foundations for contemporary fashion photography by concentrating on high-concept composition and innovative use of colour rather than the clothes themselves.
Even his less experimental works can take the breath away, such as the stunning portrait of Grace Kelly on view, once published in a 1955 issue of Cosmopolitan.
Sam Phillips is a London-based arts journalist and Editor of RA Magazine
Pick of the week will be taking a short summer break and will return in September