London has gone loco for Leonardo this week – and with good reason – but there’s strong shows on across the city with the return of the magnificent imagination and pencil skill of Paul Noble and a celebration of extinct birds that will capture any imagination – think Ralph Steadman drawing a dodo. Play it cool London, play it cool…
Leonardo Da Vinci: Painter at The Court of Milan The National Gallery
So much has been written about this show it’s difficult to know what to add – but when the organisers have to limit ticket sales to avoid gallery-rage then you know something pretty special is happening. Leonardo – often described as the ultimate Renaissance man – is a true artistic titan who excites aficionados and amateur art buffs alike, and this blockbuster show brings together all the surviving works which are allowed to travel, plus many of his drawings. A fabulous chance to see why an artist of whose only 14 confidently-attributed paintings survive is still considered such a game-changing figure, breathing life into his subjects and arguably inventing modern portraiture as we know it. It seems trite to make this the pick of the week – it’s probably the pick of the year, and runs until February.
Paul Noble: Welcome to Nobson Gagosian Britannia Street
In our tweet-and-you’ll-miss it contemporary culture, dedicating years to a single project resonates even more, and Paul Noble’s new show in London (his first here for seven years) is a slow-cooked treat. For 15 years the master draughtsman has been working on bringing to life a fictional city called Nobson Newtown, a response to utopian town planning and the reality of the places it produces. The central piece of this exhibition is Welcome to Nobson , a huge 23ft by 15ft drawing but there’s also other massive pieces and sculptures which allow you to immerse yourself in Noble’s unnatural talent. It runs until December 17.
The Ghosts of Gone Birds The Rochelle School
An exhibition highlighting the problem of dwindling bird numbers based on extinct species sounds very worthy (which it is) but it also sounds a little, well, dry. Fortunately this exhibition at the Rochelle School is anything but, with a host of stellar names contributing amazing renderings of feathered-friends that have died out. With the likes of Ralph Steadman, Sir Peter Blake and Polly Morgan alongside rising stars like Ben Newman this is a stupendously entertaining show with a moral core to boot. Splendid stuff. It runs until November 23.