Exhibition: Oceania

Exhibition dates: 29 September – 10 December 2018

In 1768 Captain James Cook left Plymouth on HMS Endeavour on the first of three voyages. Across the Pacific he encountered a world that was both highly sophisticated and, thanks to ocean-going canoes and navigational aids, interconnected – despite the significant distances between islands. Oceania draws on rich and well-documented historic collections to explore this history and, in so doing, presents new contexts in which these objects can be better understood and appreciated.

With a focus on art made in the Oceanic region by Pacific Islanders, the exhibition is organised around three main themes: ‘Voyaging’ looks at life on the water as revealed through the extraordinary stories of indigenous navigation and the arts of the canoe and canoe accoutrements such as carved prows and paddles. ‘Place-making’ explores the settlement of communities; and ‘Encounter’ focuses on trade and exchange in Pacific cultures. Highlights of the exhibition include a 14th-century wooden Kaitaia carving (from the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland), which was excavated in 1920. This is one of the oldest known objects to have been found in New Zealand to date.

Oceania will bring together around 200 exceptional works from public and private collections worldwide, and will span over 500 years. Highlights include shell, greenstone and ceramic ornaments, huge canoes and stunning god images . The exhibition draws from rich historic ethnographic collections dating from the 18th century to the present, and includes seminal works produced by contemporary artists exploring history, identity and climate change.

For more information visit the website of the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

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Exhibition: Jean-Etienne Liotard

Royal Academy - Jean-Etienne Liotard

Exhibition dates: 24 October 2015 – 31 January 2016

Jean-Etienne Liotard was an artist in great demand across Enlightenment Europe and beyond. An eccentric and distinctive portraitist, his work conjures up the magnificence and cultural curiosity of the age in vividly lifelike detail.

Born at the beginning of the eighteenth century, this idiosyncratic Swiss artist was one of the most accomplished portraitists of his day. He travelled widely – from London to the Orient – applying his unflinching powers of observation to create beautifully crafted portraits, the majority in his signature pastels on parchment.At the peak of his powers, Liotard was commissioned to paint portraits of members of the British, French and Austrian royal families. A master of self-publicity, he was known as ‘the Turk’ — so-called for his adoption of Oriental costume following an extended voyage to the Near East, where he painted expatriate residents as well as scenes of everyday life in the Ottoman Empire.

From delicate lace and silks to turbans and furs, Liotard’s depictions of textiles reveal his astonishing command of detail and texture. His work is a superb record of the fashions of his age.

This is the first retrospective exhibition in the UK to be devoted to Liotard, bringing together over 70 rarely seen works. Covering the artist’s time in Paris, Vienna, Geneva, Constantinople and London – where he exhibited work at the Royal Academy – this exhibition is a long-overdue celebration of an exceptional artist.

Fore information, visit the website of the Royal Academy, London.