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Welcome to August's Cassone

— August 2015

Associated media

Sue Ward, editor

September's issue is in production - sorry for the delay!

The ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ exhibition, which closes this month and was reviewed in Cassone’s July issue,   has made V&A history by being so popular that for its final two weekends the museum stayed open all night! This was the only way the museum could accommodate the unprecedented demand for tickets, and it was the first time the V&A has stayed open continually for 24 hours at a time.

The full price for an adult ticket was £16 – or £17.60 if you wished to make your payment qualify as a ‘ Gift Aid’ donation. It doesn’t seem that long since £10 was considered expensive for exhibition admission, but the £10 admission to the Queen’s Gallery for ‘Painting Paradise’ (reviewed in June’s Cassone) now seems positively economical. Standard admission to the Metropolitan Gallery in New York is now $25 and for the Louvre in Paris it is €15.

It would appear that the public’s appetite for art has never been stronger, despite the cost. In many countries it has long been normal to pay for museum entrance but the UK has a long tradition of charging only for special exhibitions. Now charging for entrance to the permanent collections of UK museums and galleries is again being considered by regional museums with accompanying objections. Brighton and Hove Museum and Art Gallery introduced a £5.00 charge in May but remains free for residents. York museum, which has undergone an £8 million redevelopment and has been closed for a year and a half, wishes to recoup some of the outlay and charge a £7.50 entry fee.

There are over a thousand local and regional museums in the UK and over 60% do charge admission fees. In times when money is short, isn’t it fair that our museums and galleries can charge? We pay for cinema and theatre tickets, and books and e-books. In order for our museums to function properly and look after their priceless holdings money has to be spent and if we are as keen on art as these late viewings mentioned are indicative, it seems only fair to this editor that we should put our hands in our pockets and contribute.

For this issue, Sarah Lawson visited the Dulwich Picture Gallery to see the exhibition,  the watercolours of Eric Ravilious. She points out that not since his own lifetime in 1939 has an exhibitionfocused exclusively on these works. For Sarah ‘Ravilious (1903-42) is one of those artists who subtly change your way of seeing things when you leave the gallery and emerge into the sunlight, and what greater accolade is there than that?’ Indeed this is a very good reason to see any exhibition, so get there before 31 August, when it closes.

Julian Freeman visited the Towner gallery in Eastbourne. Here he saw the exhibition ‘William Gear the painter that Britain forgot’. He tells us that as curator of the gallery in this conservative seaside town, Gear had a lot of opposition to his aim of wanting to purchase abstract art. If you read Julian’s review you learn quite a bit about the 1950s art scene in Britain when Gear was never really accepted. But Julian tells us, ‘This is quite a show. Now that it has arrived, it should be visited’ and we say do so before 27 September when it closes. You may also like to see the Ravilious room at the Towner, as this holds the largest public collection of his work.

Adrian Lewis writes on the exhibition currently on at the Philadelphia Museum of Art 'Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand- Ruel and the New Painting'. This is on until 13 September. Previously it ran at the National Gallery London when it was entitled ‘Discovering Impressionism’, but it began its travels and where Adrian viewed it,  at the Luxembourg Museum Paris with the title ‘Le Pari de l’Impressionisme’or ‘Gambling on Impressionism’. Adrian writes on Paul Durand Ruel, the subject of all three shows, the man who according to these exhibitions started the modern way of dealing in art and introduced Impressionism to a sceptical art market. Adrian also reviews a volume of Durand Ruel’s memoirs.

Jenny Kingsley writes on that brutalist structure in the City of London, The Barbican, its architect Peter Chamberlin and the beginnings of this experiment in city living, which continues successfully today.  Also if you have ever wondered about those doodles when you Google something read all about them here – Jenny will enlighten you.

Earlier this year when in New Zealand I drove through North and South Island and was struck by the spellbinding quality of the light. Living in Norfolk I am used to excellent light that comes from little pollution and proximity to water, whether the sea, rivers or broads and our wide skies. New Zealand, however, is in a league of its own. While in Christ Church I happened on the gallery of Tim Wilson, who was painting huge canvases in front of his public and perfectly depicting New Zealand’s brilliant light. Do read my interview with this artist, whose work is winning an international audience.

And please don't forget to look at our book reviews in our Art and Artists, Photography and Media and Architecture and Design sections.


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Cassone – ca-soh-neh – the elaborately  decorated chest that a wealthy Italian bride of the Renaissance period used to hold her trousseau: a box of beautiful things.


Sue Ward

Editorial —


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