Exhibition Archive

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    I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking; “How on earth did that priest train a dolphin to carry him like that?” Or maybe you’re thinking; “Where did the photographer have to stand to capture that image?” Or perhaps, in fact, you’re thinking; “This HAS to be fake.” But all of these lines of inquiry are valid in the world of Joan Fontcuberta, the Spanish artist and photographer who’s latest exhibition has just landed at The Science Museum’s Media Space.

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    It’s not a revelation that festivals of today are not what they used to be. Flower garlands have been replaced with plastic ones that you can buy at Topshop, barely adolescent bands mime where once musicians gave career-changing performances and free loving, all-night dancing sun drenched affairs have morphed into a race to see who can snog a semi-famous TV presenter first. We’re not bitter about it though, especially not when we’ve got photographs like this to remind us of the golden age.

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    This week assistant editor Maisie Skidmore asks what makes a good group show. Are they really all they’re cracked up to be, or are they poised for failure? Tell us what you think of them and which you’ve been to that were especially brilliant or terrible in the comments section below.

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    There’s a simple, iconic power to the work of Magnus Voll Mathiassen whether he’s immortalising Krautrock legends Kraftwerk or sultry pop princess Rihanna with his trademark crisp lines. His reductive approach to image-making means he’s ideally suited to creating bold work for album covers, but to really appreciate his work it’s best to blow it up MASSSIVE. Which is more or less what he’s done for his new show Hybridio in Oslo, enlarging some of his most iconic work to the size of an actually human man so you can appreciate his skill up close. He’s also showing a selection of hand-drawn work and some incredible watercolours, thereby proving that there’s even more strings to his bow than we’d first thought.

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    I love how Ryan McGinley will just burst on to the scene with a bunch of new work every now and again to remind everyone of his utter greatness. As soon as you see the new shots you realise that while you’ve been peddling backwards at a nine-to-five, Ryan’s been photographing kids jumping into phosphorescence-filled bays, streaking wildly through prairies or lying in meadows of fluff given off by procreating trees. Some people call him a one-trick pony, sure, but it’s pretty obvious that they’re just jealous. At the moment, Ryan’s work is on show at the high-rise Galerie Perrotin in Hong Kong where it seems to hover, hundreds of storeys up, looking down over the city, so go check it out if you’re in the area.

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    With the amount of press attention he’s been getting over the last couple of weeks in the run up to his debut exhibition at London’s Howard Griffin Gallery, you’d think photographer Bob Mazzer would be somewhat overwhelmed. This is not the case. Over the past 45 years he’s been taking photographs of the people he meets on the London Underground, but it wasn’t until Spitalfields Life starting posting them on their blog last year that it all kicked off.

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    The second year graphic design students on Central Saint Martins’ BA course are about a year ahead of anyone else when it comes to their degree show planning. They’ve already put the wheels in motion to raise vast sums to help launch themselves professionally when they graduate. In order to do so they’ve got a pop-up shop in progress that aims to be the most expensive concept store the world has ever seen. In it they’ll be selling one-off pieces for up to one million pounds, although the more their website is shared through social media channels, the lower the price will get.

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    Arriving at Paradise Row to see the new show by the iconoclastic Eric Yahnker provides a spectacular antidote to the madness of Oxford Street experienced only moments before. Greeted by a sign that reads “We the Peephole,” Eric’s solo UK debut and exhibition of new work boldly critiques the plasticity of pop and the contemporary political landscape: a wonderful relief after walking through a street rife with neon shops like Anne Summers and places that sell plastic fridge magnets of Diana and Robbie Williams.

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    When you search for “Ian Stevenson” Google suggests that you might be looking for a Canadian psychiatrist who specialised in reincarnation. I wasn’t – I was after the British artist of the same name – but I can’t help wonder what the former might have made of the latter’s work.

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    I’m always interested by the paradox which means that small exhibitions are often the most impactful, and the new show at the Design Museum, entitled Time Machines: Daniel Weil and the Art of Design is a prime example. Though it occupies a relatively small space, tucked in on the top floor next to the expansive Designs of the Year show, it seems to catalogue Daniel’s original approach to design perfectly.His new series of clocks demand attention first; finely made with all of their parts exposed, they maintain the dematerialisation that he first established with his Bag Radios, exploring new means of conductivity, but they seem to have progressed to a more finely-tuned, beautiful state.

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    Like many famous combinations – fish and chips, gin and tonic – type and design are inextricably linked but rarely do we explore that relationship in any depth. A new exhibition in New York does just that though, bringing together a host of rare works and unique artefacts to examine the centuries-old way in which these two entities have developed in partnership.

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    As May begins and we start to edge towards some semblance of summer, galleries across London start to wheel out a host of exciting and engaging exhibitions. Today sees the opening of one such show, with artist Von’s new work on display at KK Outlet. To truly appreciate the skill that goes into Von’s painstaking pencil drawings you really need to get up close and personal with them and Elsewhere shows off his skills at their finest.

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    As mainstream publishers go, few enjoy a design standing as respected as Penguin, and that is largely down to David Pearson. His brilliance will be given due prominence at a show at London’s Kemistry Gallery next month with his bold and communicative book jacket design for Penguin taking centre stage, alongside work for Éditions Zulma and a few other clients.

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    It’s laudable that designers are working on worthy projects that will have a practical impact on building a better future, but we’re big believers that creatives should be engaged in making tomorrow a bit more fun too. Luckily for us, there are institutions like the Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL).

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    In 2011 San Franciscan artist Tauba Auerbach held a solo show at the Bergen Kunsthall in Norway that cemented her reputation as a fine artist with heavyweight conceptual clout as well as being a maker of extraordinarily beautiful objects. Tetrachromat suggested that there was a fourth colour spectrum only perceptible to women and Tauba created a selection of objects that experimented with this theory – including vast books printed with rainbow gradients that are still some of the most beautiful objects I’ve ever laid eyes on.

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    Okay so before we begin let’s set the story straight here and lay down the fact that I know very little about fashion. That’s kind of the reason why I was so curious about going along to the Barbican to see the preview of their latest show that everyone is talking about: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.

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    Hey Studio always impress us with their consistently superb work. Their evolution over the past few years from die-hard champions of Swiss Modernism to creators of truly versatile work has delighted us, and it’s wonderful to see them grow into their creative potential. That said, we still really love their modernist posters, which is good for us as they’re about to go on display at Mad Shop in Barcelona from 11 April until 5 June 2014. There you’ll be able to see a huge variety of Hey’s poster projects, from their dynamic work for Film Commission Chile to recent pieces for ESPN Barcelona. Nice!

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    “There are three types of artist,” Thierry Noir tells me, “difficult, very difficult and impossible.” Which one is he? “I do not want to know.” The unassuming French artist is in London for the opening of his first ever solo show at the Howard Griffin Gallery in Shoreditch, and has been working flat out for two weeks to get everything finished. As well as 15 large canvases which are going on display (alongside rarely seen photographs and films), Thierry has been busy painting various walls around east London and likes the combination of gallery and al fresco work; street painting he says gives him “a different type of energy.” It’s fair to say that Thierry Noir has some experience in this.

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    We’ve all got a pile of forgotten junk hidden away somewhere in the depths of our homes – that’s what the empty space is for, right? Well, my fellow hoarders, it seems the Bank of England has the same problem, but where we have attics and locked cupboards they have a museum, so it’s all been put on display in an exhibition called Curiosities from the Vaults. Luckily for us, theirs isn’t so much junk as it is rare artefacts steeped in history, and it’s all been free to see since Monday.

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    The Grand Palais, one of Paris’ largest and most spectacular art galleries, is paying tribute to artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in a huge exhibition of his work. Famous for his incredibly stylised black and white photographs, Robert rose to fame in the late 60s and early 70s for his images of New York’s underground bondage and sadomasochism scenes, introducing a form of image-making which embraced homoeroticism in a way that very few, if any, photographers had managed to do before him. The exhibition will show 200 of these controversial and ground-breaking images, making it the most complete show of his work to date.

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    The main poster for this year’s Designs of the Year show at London’s Design Museum features a stark white slogan on a sheer black background which reads: “Someday the other museums will be showing this stuff.” It sums up perfectly what this programme aims to do: champion and showcase the best contemporary design and put a marker down for that which will come to define the coming decades. And this year’s extravaganza succeeds in doing that in spectacular fashion.

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    Since 2012 we’ve posted about Colophon Foundry, directly or indirectly, eight times. We use their Aperçu font on the It’s Nice That website, and on most of our other platforms. When they do new stuff, we pay attention. In short, we love these guys, for their unflinching devotion to their output and the sheer quality of their work – they’re a clever bunch of chaps. And yet Colophon is a mere five years old, making them positively youthful in business terms. To celebrate reaching this modest age they’re holding a show at KK Outlet next month, creating an exhibition of 26 fictional possibilities for 26 existing typefaces, imagining the potential of each without the constraints of commercial realities. We’re excited to see how it all turns out!

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    Artists Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel were subverting traditional ideas of how art could function in a public space long before Banksy’s time. The pair began their groundbreaking Billboards project in 1973, creating huge open-ended designs in their workshop under the name Clatworthy Colourvues, and pasting them up on advertising billboards around the San Francisco area. From a cartoon image of a hurricane captioned “Ooh la la!” in reference to French nuclear testing in the Pacific, to sinister alphabet fridge magnets spelling out “Whose news abuses you?” the images they created added an absurd diversion to the California landscape, and revolutionised the role of art in the public environment.

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    As a successful artist, it’s almost your duty to take younger, fresher creative minds under your wing and lead them in the right direction to artistic stardom. Such is the nature of this new exhibition in London’s Hoxton Gallery, which looks to pair some of the country’s brightest fine art talents with some of its most legendary.

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    All too often society’s view of an entire nation is shaped by subjective and marginalised photographs circulated by the media, as is very much the case for Jerusalem, of which images of conflict and religious context seem to displace everything else. Travelling around Israel, Palestine, the West Bank and Jordan, one group of interdisciplinary artists each captured different fragments of their life in the region on camera, focusing on daily rituals, the natural landscape and the people surrounding them rather than the scenes of battle favoured by newspapers. The result is a beautiful group of refreshing images taken not for the use of the media but for pleasure, showing the oddities and little sights otherwise neglected.

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    Any exhibition that has even a trace of Hockney’s work in it is enough for most of us at It’s Nice That to be running down there in an instant, so hearing that London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery was opening a show of Hockney’s printed work was almost too exciting for our little brains to bear.

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    Have you ever cried yourself to sleep at night just wishing there was a website that has a curated selection of London’s best art and design shows in once place? Well, dry those eyes and cry no more culture-lover, we’ve got a new site that answers all your prayers and more. This at There is our specially curated pick of the shows in London that we think you’d be mad to miss, with a handy countdown so you can see which ones you’ve got to skedaddle to quickest. Simple. To keep up-to-date on what’s going on, sign up to the weekly newsletter or follow This at There over on Twitter.

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    We’ve been following Carrie Strine on Instagram for a good few months now, watching her large-scale textile projects evolve and develop over time. She’s a New York-based quilter who specialises in doing everything by hand, which means she has the patience of a saint. She’s also got an exceptional eye for colour and composition, meaning her quilts are nothing like the tawdry swathes of fabric your grandma used to pile up on her bed – these are vibrant, exciting pieces of bold geometric pattern and minute hand-detailing that it’s actually possible to lust after.

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    If there’s one thing that Parisian designers Ill-Studio know better than anything else it’s 90s pop culture. The pair seem to base their entire practice around FILA leisurewear, contemporary cartoons, any number of pairs of AirMax and that horrendous DVD logo that haunted us through the early years of films on disc.

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    Someone farted all the way through the speech given by the Hayward’s curator about the opening of Martin Creed’s What’s the Point of It? to a crowd of journalists. It took a while for everyone to realise that these fart noises were coming from behind us, and it was actually an audio element in Creed’s show.

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    Bit late on the uptake on this one, but oh well, there’s always enough time in the day for legendary Cuban propaganda posters, right? The OSPAAAL Posters Show at London’s Kemistry gallery has unfortunately just closed its doors to the public. If you didn’t make it, have no fear! Michael Tyler’s collection of Cuban posters are here on the World Wide Web for you to browse as much as you wish.

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    Back in the 90s a whole bunch of young people decided it was way more fun to live in old double-decker buses and party non-stop rather than getting an office job and starting a family. Tom Hunter, Professor in Photography Research at the London College of Communication, was one of those travellers and has decided to host an exhibition of photos taken during that time.

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    In 1954, Tom Eckersley set up the UK’s first undergraduate graphic design course at what was then the London College of Printing (LCP). Now the London College of Communication (the current incarnation of the LCP) is paying tribute to the man who pioneered graphic design’s new identity, as differentiated from commercial art.

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    It’s not always easy to stage great graphic design exhibitions but Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum does it better than most. Its current show is a celebration of pioneering designer, art director and typographer Juriaan Schrofer, whose relentless experimentation pushed the boundaries of visual communication in dynamic and exciting directions. Alongside a collection of his work, Dutch studio LUST have created an interactive installation which pulls in relevant news stories related to specific locations to create a kind of information portrait.

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    People are always finding amazing things in attics; so much so that I always think I should spend a weekend rooting through my loft, but then I remember I live in a flat and don’t have an attic and get sad.

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    French designer and typographer Benoît Bodhuin has started to take himself a little more seriously of late. The experimental type designer used to be content to just release new fonts into the world as and when he saw fit, but now all that’s had to change and he’s marking this shift with a new show. His latest exhibition La typo, c’est sérieux!, or Typography, this is serious! puts Benoît’s thoughts on his process at the very forefront of the show, using his existing creations in a multitude of posters, prints and specimen samples that show the impressive extent of his abilities. What’s more he’s changed his URL from the frivolous www.benbenworld.com to the infinitely more austere www.bb-bureau.fr. I guess he just decided it was time to grow up!

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    Where can you find a giant bronze thumb, a chair made out of a female mannequin and a statue of a cowboy all in the same London location? That’s right, The Barbican! And it’s not a collection of weird, semi-fetishistic memorabilia, but an excellent exhibition of some of the most notable works to mark Pop Art’s takeover of the design scene in the latter half of the 20th Century.

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    Why is it that you can’t remember what you had for lunch yesterday but you can remember the TV graphics and theme tunes that you saw when you were about five? It takes years to actually realise that the reason those images that stuck in your mind and refused to leave was because of their catchy, skilful design by talented folk back in the day. Those designers don’t tend to be lauded in the public eye too much, but this exhibition at London’s Kemistry Gallery takes one particularly special man and puts him on the pedestal he deserves.

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    To Seoul everyone, and don’t spare the horses! The artist Do Ho Suh has unveiled his biggest work ever at the city’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and it’s absolutely astonishing. Continuing his explorations of domestic space, the artist has built two exact scale replicas of both his childhood home and his first apartment in the USA. Created using jade silk, the ethereal structures evoke ideas of the relationship between memory and place, and the ways in which physical structures become part f our theoretical personal narratives.

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    What we’d give to sip on the youth elixir that Ryan McGinley quite clearly has an infinite supply of in his bag. You can imagine him in a van packed with fun youths, chatting excitedly and joking around, on their way to a meadow to spend a few days camping and photographing, somersaulting out of barns and running naked through tall grass. The words ‘one trick pony’ have been bandied about surrounding McGinley’s work of late, but I think this is merely overlooking the fact that he’s found his niche and he’s sticking to it. Who else can capture frivolity, raw beauty and the natural electricity that runs through life with the same celebratory joy as Ryan? No one, I don’t think.