Guildhall’s Pre-Raphaelites go head to head with Barbican’s Pre-Fabricates
>> Two very different exhibitions in one day.
First to Guildhall Art Gallery. Our guide Bruce went first to the famous Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood paintings with all those seductive redheads sprawling all over the place.
He seemed most at ease talking up the history and anecdote of the paintings.
I was just looking for quirks and oddities, like the one in which Millais or one of the other Brothers, painted what looked like a peasant girl in a wood with two left feet.
Bruce had all the gossip about the artists and their subjects, giving the impression that the artistic skill often laid in the con, the hustle or the roguish charm rather than in the creation of the picture.
At one point Bruce referred to Dante Gabriel Rosetti – another Pre-Raph Brother and a bit of a rake – as Dazza.
Among the other pictures Bruce showed us was a mini version of ‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’, by Paul Delaroche.
Bruce told us that this picture is fake-news because Lady JG was actually decapitated al-fresco and not as depicted here behind closed doors.
He then gave us the whole story of Jane and Mary and all the English-Scottish bitching that went on at the time.
But my eye was pulling me away from Bruce to that fella on the right of the painting in red trousers.
The axeman, for it is he, has the look of an executioner eyeing up a nice bit of fresh white neck to sever.
>> Later it was to the Barbican’s freshly pre-fabricated Art Gallery for a private viewing of the new ‘Masculinities’ exhibition.
I was only there scouting for images I might whisk up into a monoprinting workshop in May.
So I whizzed through this stunning exhibition very fast and snapped the ones I thought might work. Here is a montage of my favourite candidates.
I am now looking forward to a return visit to see the exhibition properly.