The Twentieth Century Society

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John Piper Beach and Star Fish, Seven Sister’s Cliff
John Piper Beach and Star Fish, Seven Sister’s Cliff, Eastbourne, 1933-34 © The Piper Estate/DACS 2015

What’s on in Spring 2016: the best C20 architecture, art and design

Our Spring round-up begins with a reminder that the Isokon Gallery in Hampstead, London, has recently reopened for its 2016 season. As well as telling the story of the pioneering 1930s apartment block (also known as Lawn Road flats), the gallery has a special exhibition – Penguins at the Isokon – featuring paperbacks, penguin pools and a very special storage unit.

We are also highlighting exhibitions and events in the UK, opening in March and early April, including three opportunities to see works by John Piper, and the start of Scotland’s Festival of Architecture.

New Towns, Landscape and Gordon Patterson: Celebrating mid-C20 design
Museum of English Rural Life, Reading 19 March, 2-5pm
The University of Reading hosts this one-day study session on the work of landscape architect Gordon Patterson. His archive has recently been added to the Landscape Institute collection at MERL, and work from this will be on display. There will be five talks from speakers including Elain Harwood, Tom Turner, Oliver Rock and Caroline Gould. The cost is £10 and you can book via More.

In Focus: John Piper – an Eye for the Modern
Jerwood Gallery, Hastings from 2 March to 8 May
Inspired by the Jerwood’s 2014 acquisition of Piper’s Beach and Star Fish, Seven Sister’s Cliff, Eastbourne,  this show will explore the artist’s long interest in abstraction. You can also see his work in other mediums, including a mosaic table, tapestries, book jackets and theatre set designs. More.

John Piper: The Fabric of Modernism
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester from 12 March to 12 June
This exhibition is the first to explore Piper’s textile designs, examining key motifs in his work such as historic architecture, abstract and religious imagery. It shows how Piper’s designs were intricately connected with his wider work. More.

Underground: 100 years of Edward Johnston’s lettering for London
Ditchling Museum, East Sussex from 12 March to 11 September
With loans from the V&A, London Transport Museum and other collections, this exhibition charts the development of Edward Johnston’s simple, elegant and highly influential typeface, which survived unchanged into the 1980s and is still used across London’s transport network. More.

Festival of Architecture 2016 – various venues in Scotland
Scotland’s year-long Festival of Architecture opens with with Hinterland (18 to 27 March), a night-time public art event at the modernist ruin of St Peter’s seminary near Helensburgh, Argyll & Bute, which is now sold out. The Festival continues with Scotstyle – Building the Century (from 1 April to 31 October), a free touring exhibition that celebrates Scotland’s top 100 buildings from 1916-2015. More.

The Aylesbury Estate
Geffrye Museum, London from 5 April to 18 September
This free exhibition tells the story of this modernist highrise estate in Southwark, from its utopian beginning in the late 1960s to its current demolition and regeneration, told through oral histories, architectural drawings, photographs and objects. More.

Still showing

Saul Leiter
Photographers Gallery, London W1, 22 January to 3 April
This exhibition celebrates the work of Saul Leiter (1913-2013), the New York photographer whose pioneering use of colour captured painterly images of the city in the mid-20th century. Visitors can see Leiter’s early b/w and colour work, as well as some of his paintings. More.

Recording Britain
Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, from 5 February to 26 June
An exhibition of nearly 50 watercolour paintings from the V&A of the changing landscape of Britain during WWII, featuring artists such as John Piper, Kenneth Rowntree and Barbara Jones, as well as emerging artists of the time. More.

Creation from Catastrophe: How architecture rebuilds communities
RIBA, London from 27 January to 24 April
Destruction and devastation present opportunities to radically rethink our environment. With works from the RIBA Collection and across the world, this show begins from the plans to rebuild London after the Great Fire of 1666, through C18 Lisbon, C19 Chicago, C20 Skopje, ending up in present-day Nepal, Nigeria, Japan, Chile, Pakistan and the USA. More.

Mavericks: Breaking the Mould of British Architecture
Royal Academy of Arts, London from 26 January to 20 April
From Robert Smythson in the Elizabethan era to Zaha Hadid and FAT in the 21st century, the RA’s new exhibition focuses on 12 architects who have “broken the mould of British architecture”. C20 has organised an event looking at the work of Goodhart Rendel, in association with this exhibition. More.

Last chance to see

Out There: Our Post-War Public Art
East Wing Galleries, Somerset House, London from 3 February to 10 April
The first major exhibition by Historic England covers post-war public art from 1945 to 1985, including works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Geoffrey Clarke.  More.

Brutalust: Celebrating Southampton’s Post-War Architecture
K6 Gallery, Southampton from 10 January to 7 April
One of the more unusual gallery spaces we’ve seen – a pair of red K6 phone kiosks – hosts this exhibition of new photography of post-war Southampton, featuring work by Greg Moss, Daniel Cane and James Newell. More.

Giacomo Manzù: Sculptor and Draughtsman
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London from 15 January to 3 April
A chance to see 50 works by the renowned Italian sculptor, in the setting of a Grade II-listed Georgian house.

Tonico Lemos Auad
De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill from 30 January to 10 April
These works by the London-based Brazilian artist focus on the psychological impact and therapeutic properties of gardening, in an exhibition reflecting the venue’s location, history and relationship to mental health and well-being. More.


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