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The Guide: exhibitions: Louise Lawler London: Rossetti's Obsession Wirral: Ryan Gander Manchester: Digital Revolution London: Generation Scotland: In Homage London: Barbara Kruger Oxford: As Exciting As We Can Make It Birmingham

June 28, 2014

Skye Sherwin Robert Clark



Rossetti's Obsession, Wirral

Rossetti's Obsession reveals Dante Gabriel Rossetti's fixation with one Jane Morris, pre-Raphaelite muse, wife of artistic colleague William Morris, and rival for his affections with his own wife, Lizzie Siddal. For all their proclaimed libertarian principles, the Victorian pre-Raphaelite brotherhood tended to cast their wives and girlfriends as either passive fertility goddesses or seductive femme fatales. In real life, one gets the impression the damsels were set up as centrepieces for the group's retro arts-and-crafts decor. Rossetti's painting here of Jane Morris as the mythological figure Proserpine is a typical image of woozy adulation.

Lady Lever Art Gallery, to 21 Sep

RC

Louise Lawler, London

Louise Lawler has been pointing out that an artwork is never just an artwork since the 1970s. In her photographs of other artists' offerings in collectors' homes, auction houses or museums, context is everything. Asking what makes art meaningful, she draws attention to the desires that colour what we see. In recent years, however, she's started to experiment with the photographic format. Her latest works are tracings of her own photos created in collaboration with children's illustrator Jon Buller, which look like colouring books for precocious kids, the kind who prefer Damien Hirst's pickled and dissected animals to gambolling lambs. Collectors can opt to buy an iunlimited editioni, a digital file that can be printed at whatever size they wish.

Spruth Magers, W1, Wed to 23 Aug

SS

Ryan Gander, Manchester

On his own and with his company of skilled assistants, Ryan Gander returns in glory to the city where he made his first scholastic mark on the art world. An unashamed conceptualist, Gander transforms what he calls his seemingly uncontrollable iidea diarrhoeai into multimedia works that are often deeply thought-provoking as well as delightfully daft. Gander marries a kid's wide-eyed amazement and playful ingenuity with a grown-up intellectual's cultural questionings. Degas's iconic dancer is immaculately recast in bronze to step off her plinth and take a fag break, while a large lump of rock resembling that which upheld Rodin's Thinker bears the imprint of his bare, melancholic bum.

Manchester Art Gallery, Thu to 14 Sep

RC

Digital Revolution, London

The Barbican is hoping to follow up the success of its 2011 history of animation show with this survey of the digital world of art, design, film, music and videogames. Given how deeply digital culture permeates all our lives, attempting a coherent picture of its evolution and current place in the world is no small thing. It begins in the 1970s with landmark artefacts such as the first website and digital dinosaurs such as a child's Speak And Spell device. From here the net expands, taking in visionaries from the visual effects teams behind Gravity and Inception, to musicians like Amon Tobin, and Google's commission which will, it promises, ipush the possibilities of codingi.

Barbican Centre, EC2, Thu to 14 Sep

SS

Generation, Scotland

Generation charts the last quarter of a century of contemporary art in Scotland, including work by more than 100 artists staged in more than 60 venues, ranging from the capital to Mull. The extravaganza proudly celebrates a period during which Scotland, and most particularly Glasgow, has been recognised as a flourishing visual arts scene. Highlights include Jim Lambie, who shows a psychedelic forest of multicoloured ladders at Edinburgh'sFruitmarket Gallery, and Alison Watt, whose moody large-scale paintings of close-up draperies can be seen at Perth Art Gallery.

Various venues, Sat to 28 Jan

RC

In Homage, London

This show boasts a ballsy lineup of six 20th- and 21st-century artists with an oedipal complex to wrestle with. From Francis Bacon to Richard Prince, they've all had to face up to the genius of art-historical father figures in one way or another. It includes what's perhaps the most famous example of postwar homage, one of Francis Bacon's iconic Studies For A Pope, transforming Vel.zquez's Portrait Of Pope Innocent X with angry, abstract paint suggesting inner torment. With a chubby self-portrait that's more parody than honour, the great German iconoclast Martin Kippenberger, on the other hand, tackles what he saw as his contemporary Georg Baselitz's embrace of the self-aggrandising stance of the artist-hero. Richard Prince'sDe Kooning tribute is similarly double-edged. Meanwhile, George Condo riffs on Picasso's cubism, and Andy Warhol appropriates De Chirico.

Skarstedt, W1, Tue to 8 Aug

SS

Barbara Kruger, Oxford

Feminist art titan Barbara Kruger combines a major new installation with classic pieces. Printed texts are coated from floor to ceiling in zingy green and white, but while the font suggests headlines, what we get is existential angst. iIs there life without pain?i questions one. Another asks, in the words of 60s singer Peggy Lee, iIs that all there is?i In an ironic wink to the age of the smartphone, there are plenty of emoticons, too. Much of the work plays off Kruger's punchy 1980s collages, the upendings of consumer-culture catchphrases with which she made her name. See for instance, the image of a baby bearing the legend iFree Lovei. The message throughout, that media and technology limit the possibility of complex expression, rings loud and true.

Modern Art Oxford, Sat to 31 Aug

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As Exciting As We Can Make It, Birmingham

Under the directorship of pioneering curators Antonia Payne and Hugh Stoddart, the Ikon Gallery emerged during the 1980s as arguably the most adventurous British contemporary art venue outside London. This show gathers together many of the most distinctive artists shown here during the decade, including Rasheed Araeen, Susan Hiller, John Newling and the collaborative group Art & Language. With his Five Collages reshown here, John Stezaker first established his characteristic neo-surrealistic interbreedings of soft porn and sentimental romanticism. The Ikon's Tower Room serves as an intimate venue for a new version of Cornelia Parker's 30 Pieces Of Silver.

Ikon Gallery, Wed to 31 Aug

RC


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Source: Guardian (UK)


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