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Culture

The starting point of the “Bentley Boys” era at Le Circuit de la Sarthe

From the three Bentleys that took part in the Le Mans race in 1927, only one, “Bitch”, is still “alive”. Its current owner, Michael Dacre, has been invited by Concours d’Elegance Villa d’Este to enter it in the Dawn of the Performance Age Class A competition. Here we share with you the story of this extraordinary car.

HEROICS AND VICTORY

There were three entrants from Bentley Motors at the 1927 Le Mans, affectionately named “Snitch”, “Witch”, and “Bitch”. Around 9.40pm, just as night was settling across the circuit, a back-marker car was pushing to make up time, when it spun at the Maison Blanche (“White House”) chicane approaching the pit straight.

Start of the Le Mans 24 Hours race, 1927. At the time, drivers had to run to their cars as the flag went down.

The two lead Bentleys (Snitch and Bitch) crashed into a ditch while avoiding the stricken car and were out of the race. Other competitors suffered a similar fate and a pile-up resulted. When Sammy Davis arrived in Witch, he found the road completely blocked so rather than hitting the stationary…

Capturing the fragility of Alpine beauty

Contemporary hyperrealist artist Adam Attew grew up in the Surrey Hills, known by the Victorians as “Little Switzerland” for its resemblance to the landscapes of the lower regions of the Alpine country and the purity of its air. He started to paint as early as he started to ski, at the age of two. He […]

The Michelangelo Foundation brings the Homo Faber fellows to London’s artisan festival

Jaeger-LeCoultre and the Michalengelo Foundation come together at London Craft Week 2024. The week-long festival (13th-19th May) celebrates the best of British and international crafts, attracting hundreds of artists, artisans, brands and galleries from around the world. For the best part of two centuries, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been championing innovation and creativity, producing extraordinary and iconic […]

Kandinsky, Münter and the Blue Rider

Tate Modern, in collaboration with Lenbachhaus Munich, has curated an exhibition that stands as a true testament to The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter), a movement key to the development of German expression. Revolving around Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter, this group of artists also encouraged, nurtured, and expanded the movement of abstract painting in modern art throughout the 20th century.

The Blue Rider intended to create a modern spiritual form of art, hoping for it to surpass the constraints of representation. They published their ground-breaking Almanac in 1912, edited by Kandinsky and Marc, and stage key exhibitions in 1911 and 1912. They wanted to bring together artists from all parts of the world, proclaiming that “Art knows no borders of nations, only humanity.”

Visitors to the exhibition will be greeted by a group of vibrant portraits and self-portraits from pre-First World War Munich, where Kandinsky and Münter resided, a time of hustle and bustle for artistic lovers, that allowed for a variety of cultures to amalgamate.

Gabriele Münter’s Portrait of Marianne von Werefkin and Listening (Portrait of Jawlensky), both from 1909. Lenbachhaus Munich, Donation of Gabriele Münter, 1957 © DACS 2023.

Münter’s innovative style can be appreciated through paintings such as Listening (Portrait of Jawlensky), 1909. She stood out by her honest depiction of humanity, her works always infused with a certain sense of intimacy. The simplicity of her paintings is capitalised by the use of energetic colour. With this technique, the artist is encouraging viewers to appreciate an image at face value, suggesting not all art must have a definite meaning. Erma Bossi’s evocative Circus, 1909 is an an action-filled scene bursting with colour.

Kandinsky too is in favour of vibrant colours as conveyors of emotion, such as in his painting Johannisstrasse from a window of the Griesbrau. There is an ambiguity behind his work that encourages individuals to delve more introspectively into their own psyche, discovering thoughts from beyond.

In Murnau Farmer’s wife with children, Münter tactfully chooses an alternative colour palette to depict an image of a distressed mother with her children.

Münter and Kandinsky’s art reflecting their spell in Munich is contrasted to a slower time in Murnau, a rural town where they resided in 1909. They fell in love with the idyllic landscape and began to collect Barvarian folk art. It is here that they embarked onto a new approach in both abstract and figurative painting, represented in the show by works such as Munter’s Murnau Farmer’s wife with children. The bright pink and yellow colours used on the younger child gives her almost an angelic look, emphasising her innocence. As opposed to the mother with sunken cheeks and dark colours. The middle child does not have a look of naivety but a look of knowing, as if she is aware of her mother’s distress.

Meanwhile, other artists such as Franz Marc explored the natural world, with works such as Tiger and Cows, Yellow-Red-Green, both from 1912.

Franz Marc’s, Cows, Red, Green, Yellow, 1911, Lenbachhaus Munich; and Tiger, 1912. Lenbachhaus Munich, Donation of the Bernhard and Elly Koehler Foundation,1965.

Other rooms in the exhibition allow visitors to share the fascination of modernism with colour, sound and light through very different works, such as Kandinsky’s Impression III (Concert), 1911, derived from his interest in synaesthesia; and Franz Marc’s 1911 Deer in the snow II, which is experienced optically whilst surveying the colour theory.

The show finishes by explaining how The Blue Rider group ensured they would leave a mark in history, through manifestos, editorials, exhibitions and fostering relationships with museums and galleries.

Although the First World War led the group to disperse, it does not extinguish their significant impact on abstract art, expressionism, and modernism.

Expressionists: Kandinsky, Münter and the Blue Rider
Tate Modern, London
25 April – 20 October 2024
Book your tickets HERE.

Words: Cristina Mouchantaf

Opening image: Wassily Kandinsky, Cossacks, 1910-1. Tate, Presented by Mrs Hazel McKinley 1938. Photo © Tate (Madeleine Buddo).
Gabriele Münter, Murnau Farmer’s Wife with Children, 1909–1910. Lenbachhaus Munich, Donation of Gabriele Münter, 1957 © DACS 2024.

Past, Future, Perfect

In a sense, it was a quieter year for Patek Philippe, but that does not mean the watches presented were not superlative. Along with a Rare Handcrafts Exhibition at their Geneva boutique and the integration of the crafts into the watches released at Watches & Wonders, this was a year aimed more at the collector and cognoscenti, with new versions of well-loved classic models, a celebration of their ladies’ line, and a re-generation of a much-loved mid-20th century design.

As part of the Rare Handcrafts theme, there was an exhibition at the main Geneva boutique which demonstrated the extent of artistic endeavours that the company’s artisans can realise. A number of different metiers d’art were on display, from guilloché to enamelling, gem-setting and engraving.

One of the stars of the Rare Handcrafts Exhibition, a Patek Philippe Calatrava metiers d’art with a wood marquetry image of Morning on the Beach.

Out of all of the watches shown, my favourite was the Calatrava ref. 5089G Morning on the Beach, an innovative juxtaposition of a centuries-old art form and a modern pictorial setting, which also represents a different aesthetic by Patek Philippe. Marquetry is the painstaking use of coloured wood varieties, taking into account the vein and how they can cut, assemble, glue and place each tiny piece of veneer for use in the composition. In this instance, the grain of the wood, used horizontally, depicted the waves in the water; the grain, used vertically, reflects the upright surfer as he walks across the beach.

Traditionally used in furniture, its use in watchmaking is fairly recent and pioneered by Patek Philippe. In this instance, 100 veneer parts and 75 inlays comprising 23 species of coloured wood, show a surfer on his way to the waves. The case is white gold with a hinged back cover that opens to the brand’s ultra-thin automatic calibre 240. If I could have only had one watch to take home with me this year, then this would have been it. As a former resident of the city, it reminded me of mornings in Los Angeles.  A limited edition of 10 pieces and POA.

Left, Patek Philippe advert for the new Ellipse circa 1971, showing the intended customer profile. Right, the new ref. 5738R Ellipse.

The new rose gold Ellipse has all the hallmarks of the late 1960s icon, with all the benefits of a new movement and re-worked bracelet. The Ellipse was introduced in 1968, with the references 3546 and 3548, as the company needed a new watch design that was both immediately recognisable as a Patek and unisex in its appeal. Something that would be distinguishable from any other watch. The Ellipse became the symbol of 1970s jet set international chic. It featured in most of the company’s advertising from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, becoming a success in the process. In total, over the years, the number of Ellipse references – 65 in total – even eclipses the number for the Calatrava.

The contemporary shape of the watch owes more to the Jumbo Ellipse ref. 3605 introduced in 1971 with an automatic calibre 28-2555C. The new ref. 5738R has the same oversized rectangular round case shape with an intricate bracelet in the same metal. Powered by the modern automatic calibre 240, it is every part the modernised successor to the quintessential 1970s classic.

Subtle improvements have been made to the bracelet, where 300 of the 383 links are polished and assembled by hand. Reminiscent of the traditional Frères examples of the past, it adds flexibility and ergonomics to how the watch sits on the wrist. With all gold case and bracelet watches making a marked return, the modern Ellipse is as avant-garde and modern today as it has always been.

The 25th Anniversary Patek Philippe Twenty~4 with the purple concentric wave pattern dial and two-tier case lined by two rows of diamonds.

Of equal standing is the Patek Philippe Twenty~4 collection, introduced in 1999, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The new version of the quartz cuff-style model features a highly refined dial embossed with a concentric wave pattern, coated with successive layers of a translucent purple lacquer, which, once polished, creates a beautiful depth effect. The original shape of the rectangular two-tier case is highlighted by two rows of 17 brilliant-cut diamonds set on either side of the dial.

New Patek Philippe Grand Complications. From left to right, Perpetual Calendar ref. 5236P, Alarm Travel Time ref. 5520R and Rare Handcrafts Retrograde Perpetual Calendar ref. 5160R.

For the purist collectors, there were three stunning versions of Patek Philippe grand complications; that sweet spot that the Geneva Maison knows so well.  First, a peerless new Perpetual Calendar, ref. 5236P. Initially introduced four years ago with a blue dial/white gold case combination, the reference is now clad in platinum with a rose-gold gilt salmon pink dial. Second, the quintessential travel watch, the Alarm Travel Time ref. 5520R, which now comes in a two-tone version with a rose gold case featuring four white gold pusher tubes and a sunburst grey dial. Third, and part of the Rare Handcrafts work, a Retrograde Perpetual Calendar ref. 5160R with a silvery opaline dial, in an Officer’s-style case with a hinged cover and hand-engraved decoration throughout, inspired by a pocket watch from the Patek Philippe Museum.

The two new complicated watches released this year, the ref. 5330G World Time (left) and the ref. 5396 Annual Calendar (right).

Patek Philippe continued their tradition with the World Time complication (patented ref. 5330G). Originally released as a limited edition for the Patek Philippe grand exhibition Watch Art held in Tokyo in June 2023, the new calibre is now part of the regular collection and ingeniously has a date display synchronized with local time – the one indicated by the centre hands on the dial. Also in the complications category, Patek Philippe released a sublime new version of the ref. 5396 Annual Calendar in white gold, featuring a sunburst blue dial with black-gradient rim, discreetly enhanced by the brilliance of twelve baguette diamond hour-markers.

The two new Aquanaut watches, the ref. 5164G Travel Time (left) and the ref. 5268G Rare Handcrafts gem-set Aquanaut Luce (right).

Finally, the other collections with new references were the Aquanaut and Nautilus. In the former, there were three new iterations, a white gold opaline blue-dialled ref. 5164 Travel Time, a Travel Time ref. 5269 in a rose gold case, featuring a similar hue on its dial, but with a quartz movement, and an Haute Joaillerie white gold Luce model, ref. 5268G, that was part of the Rare Handcrafts Exhibition. The Nautilus ref. 5980G, a self-winding flyback chronograph, comes in a white gold version, also with an opaline blue dial.

Patek Philippe’s Rare Handcrafts exhibition is coming to London from 7th – 16th June at the Patek Philippe Bond Street salon.

Words: Dr Andrew Hildreth

Opening image: detail of the dial for the Calatrava ref. 5089G Morning on the Beach.

Delving into conflict, persecution and immigration

British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare has returned to the Serpentine with his first solo exhibition in London in 20 years.

Titled Suspended States, the show looks to explore the many repercussions of colonization, Europe’s imperial history and subsequent endeavours for peace. The compelling artworks delve into key themes such as the enduring legacies of colonialism, spaces of refuge and sanctuary.

Besides pictorial quilts and woodcuts and installations, Suspended States include two new large-scale artworks, Sanctuary City and War Library.

The Turner-prize nominee artist, who first exhibited at Serpentine South in 1992, is aware that the layered and political nature of his work has only become more prescient over time. “My work has always been about crossing the boundaries; geographically, visually, historically and conceptually. Suspended States addresses the suspension of boundaries, whether psychological, physical or geographical – all boundaries of nationhood are in a state of suspense,” says Shonibare.

“My work has always been about crossing the boundaries; geographically, visually, historically and conceptually.”

– Yinka Shonibare

Central to the exhibition is an installation called Sanctuary City, made up of miniature buildings that represent places of refuge for those in society who are persecuted; and also War Library, which consists of 5,000 books, including peace treaties, that have been bound in batik, a Dutch wax print fabric for which the artist is known. He discovered it at Brixton market in South London, when he was a student.

Fans of Shonibare will be reminded of his 2014 installation, The British Library, that featured 6,328 hardback books, each covered in the same colourful material. The 61-year-old, who was awarded a CBE in 2019, uses the wax print as a way to highlight the complex relationship between Africa and Europe.  The designs hail from Indonesia but were mass-produced by the Dutch and sold to British colonies in West Africa, where they were then referred to as ‘African print’.

Two works from Yinka Shonibare’s Decolonised Structures: Frere, 2022 and Roberts, 2022. Both fibreglass sculptures, hand-painted with Dutch wax pattern and wooden plinth.

In another of his major artworks Decolonised Structures, Shonibareuses his signature batik on small-scale replicas of London’s large public sculptures. “This is an exhibition in which Western iconography is reimagined and interrogated,” he explains, “at a moment in history when nationalism, projectionism and hostility towards foreigners is on the rise.”

Reconstructing colonial figures such as Robert Clive and Sir Charles James Napier, he lays bare the political realities that gave rise to them and demonstrates the effect of their presence in contemporary public spaces. He says of its inception: “You know the [Edward] Colston statue that came down in Bristol? Well, Decolonised Structures addresses that; it’s a series of statues that we see around London, including Queen Victoria and Sir Winston Churchill. Many of those figures were involved in British colonialism and we understand the trauma of that. But at the same time, what I’ve done is that I have kind of corrected them and made everything more beautiful.”

“This is an exhibition in which Western iconography is reimagined and interrogated…”

–  Yinka Shonibare

The timing of the work could not be more perfect. Shonibare says: “Like a lot of my work, this is linked to the zeitgeist. We’ve got culture wars going on, a refugee crisis, a homeless crisis and war in the Ukraine. But culture wars are based on people putting down artificial boundaries. The point of this show is to say that this happened and this is where we are now. We are all linked.”

The exhibition also shines a light on Shonibare’s Guest Project experimental space in Hackney, and the Guest Artist Space (G.A.S.) Foundation, which he launched in Nigeria five years ago. While his foundation is head-quartered in London, he returns to Nigeria every November for the Lagos Art Fair, known as Art X Lagos. 

Suspended States
12th April – 1st September 2024
Serpentine South Gallery
Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA

More details HERE.

Words: Lisa Marks

Leading photo: Yinka Shonibare CBE, Decolonised Structures, 2022-23. Fibreglass sculptures, hand-painted with Dutch wax pattern, gold leaf and wooden plinths. Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, Johannesburg, London and New York, James Cohan Gallery, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and New York. Photo by Stephen White & Co. © Yinka Shonibare CBE.

From Decolonised Structures: Frere and Roberts commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, Johannesburg, London and New York, James Cohan Gallery, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and New York. Photo by Stephen White & Co. © Yinka Shonibare CBE.

From Decolonised Structures: Queen Victoria, 2022. Fibreglass sculpture, hand-painted with Dutch wax pattern and wooden plinth, 139 x 75 x 57 cm. Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, Johannesburg, London and New York, James Cohan Gallery, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and New York. Photo by Stephen White & Co. © Yinka Shonibare CBE

Moving the needle

The inhospitable landscapes of northern Scandinavia may not seem the ideal place to nurture artistic talent, but this is exactly where Britta Marakatt-Labba has rooted hers. Born into a reindeer herding family in Sápmi – one of the northernmost regions of the world – she started her career in 1979 in Gothenburg, studying Design and Crafts. Her style has since broadened, together with her international reputation, through the duodji practices of Sámi crafts and art, which she learnt during her upbringing.

Best known for her embroidery works, for which she normally threads fine wool, silk and linen onto white fabric grounds, Marakatt-Labba has also produced outstanding prints; book illustrations; scenic designs, and costumes for film and theatre.

Moving the Needle combines over four decades of the artist’s work, with a clear focus on her depiction of environmental issues and the climate crisis as seen from an indigenous perspective. Her involvement with these causes dates back to the late 1970s, when, with other like-minded artists, she helped found the politically-radical artist group, Mázejoavku (the Masi group).

Flying Shamans, 2011-2021 © Britta Marakatt-Labba/BONO. Photo: Hans-Olof Utsi

Marakatt-Labba was also active in the campaign of resistance to the development of the Alta-Kautokeino watercourse. Garjját/The Crows (1981) – on display at the exhibition – was made during this time of protest. Her tapestry shows the police as crows charging at people, and has become a symbol of the Norwegian state’s historical mistreatment of Sámi people. The story continues into Girdi noaiddit/Flying Shamans (1986) in which the shamans take revenge, by picking up and dropping the policemen – likened to rats – into the icy waters.

With political activism still central to her art even today, Marakatt-Labba is considered an inspiration for a new generation of young people fighting for nature conservation in general, and Sámi rights in particular. For Moving the Needle, she  created a commissioned piece that warns about the costs of hunting for minerals and industrialising nature in her mining hometown, Kiruna.

Left, Cracked, 2009. Right, Drumbeat, 2012. Both © Britta Marakatt-Labba/BONO. Photo: Hans-Olof Utsi.

Beyond the visual feast of her tapestries, Marakatt-Labba sparks conversations about the evolving identity of the Sámi people and the importance of cultural preservation in a rapidly-changing world. Moving the Needle is like a storybook, revealing chapter after chapter of the artist’s personal and collective history.

Through iterative installations, the exhibition immerses visitors in Sámi culture; at the heart of which is the 24-metre-long, embroidered Historjá (2004-2007). In its stitches are woven scenes from Sámi history, mythology and everyday life. Also on show are a selection of the artist’s first sketches – which have never been exhibited before – plus other forms of Marakatt-Labba’s work, including graphic prints and sculptures that show the wide range of her practice.

Britta Marakatt-Labba, Moving the needle

Nasjonalmuseet, Pb. 7014 St. Olavs plass, N-0130 Oslo

15th March – 25th August 2024

More information and tickets, HERE.

Words: Lavinia Dickson-Robinson

God was his co-pilot

Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna drove like a man possessed. His rivals feared him, his country worshipped him. When he was killed 30 years ago on live television, he left a legacy of tears, adulation and debate.

At the Monaco Grand Prix, grid position is everything. In 1988, with five minutes of the qualifying session remaining, Ayrton Senna’s McLaren-Honda had recorded the fastest time so far; almost a second quicker than his team-mate, Alain Prost. Even allowing for Prost’s potential to shave a couple of tenths off his own time, it would’ve been enough to guarantee pole for Senna. But this was Monaco, and this was Senna. He was out to prove he was the master and, in the process, psychologically destroy his team-mate. That was just the way he worked. There was only time for one more run. Senna’s McLaren shot through the turns, dancing on the absolute limit of physics. The other F1 cars looked pedestrian in comparison. Senna went a second and a half faster than anyone else had ever lapped the Monaco circuit.

In the history of Formula One racing, no one was better at producing these moments of extrovert brilliance than Ayrton Senna. In May of 1988, he had yet to win the world championship. Indeed, he had only won a mere seven grands prix in four and a half seasons. With Senna, though, it was always about quality rather than quantity.

“If you have God on your side, everything becomes clear.”

 

           –  Ayrton Senna

Senna was, in many ways, the first truly professional F1 driver. Like many elite sportspeople, he was a control freak and a paranoiac. But he was also thoughtful and engaging. He was gentle and generous away from the white heat of competition (he gave extensively to charity, usually anonymously), and he also possessed an impish sense of humour that’d reveal itself at his most relaxed.

That said, intensity was never far away, and would only be magnified when Senna left Lotus to join Prost at McLaren in 1988. If Senna were to make an impact, he would have to be measured favourably against the double world champion. This became a fixation that would drive Senna to the kinds of performances seen during that year’s mesmerising Monaco qualifying. But it would also drive him into the wall. That same weekend would prove a startling example. Senna appeared to have the race sewn up when Prost missed a gear at the start and dropped behind a Ferrari to third. The Brazilian pulled away in the lead. By lap three, he was 4.3 seconds in front. By lap five, 7.5 seconds. And so it went on. On lap 54, Prost finally managed to move into second place. Senna was 49 seconds in credit. Not even a driver of Prost’s calibre could hope to make up the difference in the remaining 24 laps. But he had one card left to play: he could mess with Senna’s head.

Ayrton Senna claimed his first World Championship in 1988. Between him and his teammate Alain Prost, they won all 16 Grands Prix that year.

The Frenchman upped his pace and set the fastest lap, knowing that this news would be relayed to his team-mate. As if on cue, for four successive laps Ayrton went quicker still. Then Prost backed off. When that was passed on to Senna, he, too, reduced pace. But the flow had gone. He began to make small mistakes. On lap 67, he brushed a barrier and his McLaren ricocheted into the Armco on the other side of the road. Victory had been thrown away. Worse still, his biggest rival was headed towards the chequered flag. Senna jumped out of the damaged car and walked briskly to his apartment, which happened to be nearby. He shut the door and ignored the phone. He wouldn’t even speak to Jo Ramirez, the McLaren team manager he knew well and respected. “For hours we tried to contact him,” Ramirez says. “His telephone was either engaged or off the hook. At about nine in the evening, I managed to get an answer from his Brazilian housekeeper. At first, she insisted Senhor Ayrton wasn’t there, but I pleaded with her in Portuguese, knowing Ayrton was there. She finally handed the phone over to him – and Ayrton was still crying. “Ayrton,” continues Ramirez, “was a perfectionist. He couldn’t tolerate mistakes by the team, and he tolerated his own even less.”

“Ayrton made so few mistakes that when he did make them, he used to punish himself.”

      –  Jo Ramirez, former Team           Manager, McLaren Racing

Neither could Senna tolerate perceived injustices – and there was none worse in his mind than the events following the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix. Winning his first world title in 1988 hadn’t been enough for Senna; not when he was head-to-head again with Prost the year after. Ayrton – who said the Monaco ’88 accident “brought me closer to God” – was not averse to pushing Prost towards the concrete pitwall at 180mph. Prost would later say: “Ayrton thinks he can’t kill himself because he believes in God.”

In Japan, Prost executed a clumsy blocking move as he tried to defend his lead in the closing stages of the race. Senna recovered from the subsequent collision; Prost did not. But his victory was annulled when officials declared he had broken the rules rejoining the track. It was Prost who won the championship as a result. Senna carried the sense of persecution with him for 12 months, only to have it inflamed at the same track when officials insisted he make his pole-position start for the 1990 race on the dirty side of the grid. Prost, who’d defected to Ferrari but was still Senna’s only real rival, would have the benefit of the clean side. Sure enough, Prost made the better getaway as they rushed down to the first corner at 170 mph – where Senna promptly smashed into the back of the Ferrari, taking both of them out but still winning the title. Senna was not in the least bit apologetic. He’d been messed around with – why could no one else understand this?

This same ethos had driven Senna from the moment he arrived in Europe from his native São Paulo in 1978, aged 18, to race karts. His greatest rival was the British karter Terry Fullerton. “He was obsessed with success,” says Fullerton. “I’ve seen him do silly things when he wasn’t quickest. The kid was loaded with ability, but he didn’t have any fear.”

Senna at the Monaco Grand Prix, 1992, en route to the fifth of his six wins at the principality.

Ayrton reclaimed the F1 title again in 1990 and 1991, but then the wins started to dry up due to the rise of Williams-Renault. Once the incumbent Prost retired at the end of 1993, Senna switched to the reigning champions for the following season. The Rothmans-liveried FW16 was a difficult car, and 25-year-old Michael Schumacher came straight out of the blocks to dominate in a Benetton car that Senna believed to be breaking the technical regulations. Senna spun out of the first two races, while Schumacher romped to victory. The pressure was building when they arrived in Imola, Italy, for Round Three; 1994’s San Marino Grand Prix.

Senna was shocked by a spectacular practice crash involving his friend and countryman Rubens Barrichello. And he was appalled when Austrian rookie Roland Ratzenberger was killed during qualifying. He resigned himself to race the following day, but he appeared distracted… balancing risk versus reward, considering how long was it wise for him to continue?

Leading the San Marino Grand Prix on lap seven, Senna’s Williams inexplicably left the track and hit the wall at the Tamburello corner. The 130-mph impact tore off the right-front wheel and drove it towards the cockpit, though it was part of the car’s broken suspension that dealt the fatal blow when it penetrated the iconic yellow helmet.

Senna famously said, “The danger sensation is exciting. The challenge is to find new dangers.” All who knew him agree he knew no fear.

Senna’s body was flown home with a Brazilian fighter-jet escort. To put this in context for a UK audience, the death of Ayrton hit Brazilians as hard as the death of Diana would Britons a few years later. Mourners turned out in their thousands to see his casket lying in state. The entire country came to a standstill as the funeral cortege made the ten-mile journey to São Paulo’sMorumbi cemetery, with Alain Prost among the pallbearers. A guard of honour fired a salute over the unpretentious grave. Everywhere, people held banners and messages: “Senna obrigado”, “Adeus Senna”, and “Saudade” – a simple but expressive word with no direct translation in English, which connotes a deep longing for something or someone you loved, but is now either lost, gone, or unobtainable forever.

Many words have been written about this man in the three decades since that awful day, May 1st, 1994. None were more telling than his own, spoken to an English journalist he trusted, the late Russell Bulgin, in January 1994. “If I ever happen to have an accident that eventually costs me my life,” Ayrton said, “I hope it is in one go. If I am going to live, I want to live fully, very intensely, because I am an intense person. It would ruin my life if I had to live partially.”

No one who knew him or saw him race, at any stage of his 34 years, could ever accuse Ayrton Senna of that.

Words: Adam Hay-Nicholls

Opening image courtesy of McLaren Racing

Guy Ritchie's latest hired gun wants it all

Born into a family full of creative and intellectual talent, Ruby has written, produced and directed her own short films for years. As Gabrielle in Guy Ritchie’s most recent TV show, The Gentlemen, she has taken a giant leap into the world of celluloid.

Ruby’s family environment was somewhat unorthodox. Where other kids grew up watching In the Night Garden and Sponge Bob Square Pants, family TV for Ruby and her brother George meant Alfred Hitchcock films and The Mighty Boosh. “The four of us have a tattoo of it,” she shares, pointing to the inside of her right ankle. Laughing she adds, “Sort of a family trademark, I suppose.”

Her professional journey has been one of organic evolution. Behind the camera, her work includes Code Switching, VHS East London, and The Red Lake – three shorts she wrote, produced and directed in 2019; and in When Fate Calls, which she cowrote with her brother the same year.

Ruby wears Van Cleef & Arpels Frivole earrings and ring; Jenny Packham tulle dress and Christian Louboutin Sweet Jane shoes.

At the same time, she was modelling “to earn some money”, taking part in TV commercials and music videos. Her acting skills were honed during her studies at Actors Temple London. “I very much enjoyed how acting allowed me to express myself in many different ways.”

Being cast for Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen represented a big step forward in her acting career. Candidly, she comments, “I got very lucky with that one. I think the casting team liked me because I am from Southend [Southend-on-Sea, Essex] and my natural accent fitted what Guy was looking for.”

“I very much enjoy how acting allows me to express myself in many different ways.”

– Ruby Sear
Earrings and dress by Louis Vuitton


The Gentlemen is an eight-part drama, inspired by Ritchie’s eponymous film from 2019. In it, Eddie Horniman, played by Theo James (The White Lotus, Sanditon, Allegiant) inherits a large estate from his aristocrat father, and becomes the new Duke of Halstead – only to discover that it’s sitting on top of the biggest weed farm in Europe. Horniman is determined to escape the farm’s clutches and keep his family and estate safe. In order to do that, he has to become a bit of a gangster himself. The problem is that he starts liking it. From here, the whole plot changes. Ray Winston, Vinnie Jones, Kaya Scodalerio and Freddie Fox, are some of the household names helping to bring this fast-paced criminal drama full of shady – and often charming – characters to life.

Ruby plays Gabrielle, a hired gun, and a woman of mystery. “Basically she is a tough woman with a strong character, who gets entangled with the hoodlum families. She’ll take on any job, no matter how big or small, never letting her conscience get in the way. She is the peak of professionalism… until she meets Jimmy Chang, that is!”

“Gabrielle is a true professional. She’ll take on any job, no matter how big or small, never letting her conscience get in the way.”

– Ruby Sear
Total look by Alexander McQueen

Given this was her very first time on set, Ruby felt a bit nervous about the whole thing, but her co-actors and the rest of the crew, all helped her settle in quickly. “I got very close to my love interest in the show, Jimmy (played by Michael Vu), who I think is going to steal the show. Vinnie Jones was also really nice to me, and he is hilarious. Joely Richardson was very welcoming and kind, as was Kaya Scodaleiro, who plays the lead female character. All of the cast and crew created such a welcoming environment. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such a lovely team!”

Parallel to acting, Ruby also paints; a passion she developed during her time living in LA. Her liberal parents, Simon and Juliet Sear, gave her a lot of freedom early on, and encouraged her to explore her creativity, push boundaries, try new things. […]

To read this interview in full, pre-order the spring 2024 issue of I-M Intelligent Magazine HERE.

The Gentlemen is currently showing on Netflix.
Words: Julia Pasarón
Photography: Fenton Bailey Photo Assistant: Malak Kabbani
Fashion & Jewellery Director/ Shoot Production: Marcella Martinelli
Hair: Tim Crespin Make-up: Yin Lee
Opening photo: Ruby Sear wears diamonds and platinum high jewellery by Harry Winston and viscose polo neck by Moschino.

Opera Gallery hosts the first solo show of the artist in London in 58 years

Struggle, desolation, even rage are words that come to my mind when in front of Antonio Saura’s work. Born in Spain in 1930, Saura was a founding member of the El Paso group, a collective of artists and critics established in 1957 which, together with the Dau Al Set, defined the avant-garde art movement in Spain in the 20th century. Together with the emergence of Abstract Expressionism in New York and Art Informel in Paris, El Paso reinvigorated the international art scene, which had been severely depleted after WWII. The three movements encouraged spontaneous freedom of expression and the exploration of the subconscious mind.

It was in a visit to El Prado Museum as a kid, that Saura first experienced the work of the Spanish masters Goya and Velázques, both of whom would have a profound influence on his work. At the age of 13, he contracted tuberculosis, which forced him to stay confined to his room for several years, and thus, books became his window to the world. In 1947, when he was mostly recovered, he started to paint, without any formal training at all. His early works mostly depicted imaginary landscapes and employed a very colourful palette in flat, smooth applications of paint.

In 1954, he moved to Paris, where he met many of the surrealist artists and where his work showed the influence of the Art Informel and the Abstract Expressionist movements. Upon his return to Spain a couple of years later, he started to centre his work in the representation of the human figure, often distorted to express an array of feelings and emotions associated with existential angst. The influence of Velázquez Christ Crucified (1632) and Goya’s The Dog (circa 1819-1823) would become recurrent themes in his paintings.

Left: Crucifixión, 1960, Gouache and India ink on paper. Right: Le Chien de Goya, 1985, oil. Both images: © Succession Antonio Saura www.antoniosaura.org A.D.A.G.P. Paris, 2023

This travelling exhibition, which debuted at Opera Gallery Madrid in 2023, pays homage to Saura’s artistic legacy 26 years after his death, while examining his innumerable contributions to the art historical canon in Spain and beyond. The show brings together 27 paintings, works on paper and canvas created between 1959-1997, exploring enduring themes in Saura’s practice – from Crucifixions to Crowds as well as Imaginary Portraits – which acted as catalysts for existential and aesthetic developments. The show also highlights his Auto-da-fé series, a suite of paintings made using the torn-out covers of books that he originally created 40 years ago. An auto-da-fé was the ritual of public penance imposed by the Catholic authorities during which they’d publicly declare the sins, crimes and sentences of the accused by the Inquisition Tribunal.

Very few artists of this period managed to convey feelings of isolation, hopelessness and bleakness with as much power as Saura. The darkness of his work was emphasised by his sober palette of black and white, vigorous brushstrokes and contorted figures.

Autodafé, 1986, Acrylic and lacquer on board. Photo Credit: ©Succession Antonio Saura. A.D.A.G.P. Paris, 2023

His talent was recognised internationally and as such, Saura exhibited widely in Europe and the USA during the decades of censorship imposed by dictator Francisco Franco. Among many prestigious awards, he received the Guggenheim New York International Prize (1960) and the Grand Prix des Arts de la Ville de Paris (1995), as well as the Carnegie Award for his contribution to documenta Kassel (1964). 

Saura’s work extended beyond painting into sculpture, writing, printmaking, theatre set design and writing. He published his first book in 1950 and regularly brought out new works right up to the end of his life in 1998. At the end of 2024, the Antonio Saura Foundation will publish a new book titled, On Picasso, which includes a series of essays dedicated to Pablo Picasso, most of which have never been printed in English. 

In 1997, Saura was diagnosed with leukaemia, and only a year later, he died, in his studio in Cuenca, Spain.

Isabelle de La Bruyère, CEO of Opera Gallery Group commented: “We are very proud to host an important new exhibition in London – Antonio Saura: Painting at Will – in collaboration with the Succession Antonio Saura and Fondation Archives Antonio Saura. Recognised as one of Spain’s most important Post-War artists, this is Saura’s first solo show in London since 1966. The works presented, some of which for the first time in the United Kingdom, demonstrate his intricate knowledge and contribution to art history, as well as his empathy towards the human condition and fearless engagement with culture…”

Antonio Saura, Painting at Will 
29 February – 26 March 2024 
Opera Gallery London
65 – 66 New Bond Street W1S 1RW
london@operagallery.com         T +44 (0)20 7491 2999         operagallery.com

Words: Julia Pasarón

Opening photo: Antonio Saura photographed in Cuenca, Spain in 1998 Photo: © José María Alguersuari.

Fashion and identity through the eyes of John Singer Sargent

Prepare to be transported back in time as Tate Britain opens its doors to an enchanting exhibition that marries the sartorial splendour and luxury of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras with the masterful brushstrokes of John Singer Sargent.

An American expat from birth, Sargent had a nomad childhood, travelling around Europe with his parents and siblings. By the age of 17, Sargent was fluent in Italian, French and German, besides English. His nomadic life facilitated his study of the Old Masters. He was particularly influenced by Diego de Velázquez’s realism and Frans Hals’s bold strokes, both of which he’d make his own.

Left: Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess d’Abernon, 1904. Collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama. Right: Portrait of Ena Wertheimer: A Vele Gonfie, 1904. Tate. Photo © Tate (Oliver Cowling).

This exhibition organised by Tate Britain and the Museum of Fine Arts, London, focuses precisely on this component of the artist’s creative process, and how he used fashion as part of his artistic expression. “The coat is the picture,” Sargent once told fellow painter, author, and collector, Graham Robertson. The show features Robertson’s portrait among nearly 60 others, including major portraits that rarely travel. Several period garments and accessories are showcased alongside the portraits they were worn in, among them Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth with her beetle-wing-encrusted costume, and Mrs. Charles Inches (Louise Pomeroy) with her red velvet evening gown.

Sargent’s keen eye for detail, together with his ability to render fabrics, textures and the play of light on clothing, elevate his portraits to a level of unparalleled sophistication. The exhibition delves into the artist’s meticulous approach to capturing the nuances of fashion, highlighting the exquisite craftsmanship of garments and the way in which they contribute to the overall narrative of each portrait.

Left: Portrait of Miss Elsie Palmer (A Lady in White), 1889-90. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (Colorado Springs, USA). Right: Mrs Hugh Hammersley, 1892. Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence.

The clothing worn by Sargent’s subjects becomes a mirror that reflects the social norms, aspirations and shifting paradigms of the time, offering a rich tapestry of history woven into every brushstroke. From lace and silk to velvet and satin, Sargent’s brush immortalizes the luxurious fabrics that adorned his sitters. An excellent example is the striking Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess d’Abernon, 1904, dressed in opulent fabrics befitting of her position in society.

Other samples of Sargent’s precision and flair when capturing the essence of his subjects are the playful A Dinner Table at Night and the notorious  Madame X. His depiction of socialite, Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau scandalised the Paris Salon in 1884. Such was the outrage caused by  Madame X, that Sargent moved to England, where he continued his career; very successfully.

Sargent and Fashion

Tate Britain

Millbank, London SW1P 4RG

Until 7th July 2024. More information and tickets, HERE.

Words: Lavinia Dickson-Robinson

Opening picture: John Singer Sargent, Ena and Betty, Daughters of Asher and Mrs Wertheimer, 1901 (cropped from the original). Oil on canvas; 185.4 x 130.8 cm. Tate. Photo © Tate (Joe Humphrys)

A Radiant Renaissance

One of only two female founding members of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Angelica Kauffmann was something of a trailblazer in the 18th century. Her importance in the history of art is not just based on how unusual it was for a woman to be a recognised artist, but also on the influence her work would have on subsequent generations of artists.

A Radiant Renaissance presents a comprehensive selection of Kaufmann’s works, which illustrate the breadth of her talent, from portraiture to decorative arts and history painting; the field that would ultimately bring her international recognition from the leading courts of Europe and private patrons alike.

Born in Switzerland in 1741, Kauffman spent her childhood living and travelling in Europe with her father, the lesser artist, Johann Kauffmann. Her ability showed from an early age, so much so, that by her teens she was already working on portrait commissions. At the start of this exhibition, visitors are invited to explore her mastery in this field through several of her self-portraits, such as Self-portrait in the Traditional Costume of the Bregenz Forest, 1781.

Left: Self-portrait in the Traditional Costume of the Bregenz Forest, 1781; Photo: © Innsbruck, Tiroler Landesmuseen. Right: Cleopatra Adorning the Tomb of Mark Anthony, c. 1765. The Burghley House Collection. Photo: © The Burghley House Collection.

Beyond portraiture, Kauffman excelled in history painting, a genre from which women were generally excluded due to the requirements to study anatomy, an issue that she avoided by studying classical sculptures rather than live models. Challenging the conventions of her time, Kauffman often chose to focus on female protagonists, such as in Cleopatra Adorning the Tomb of Mark Anthony, c.1769-70.

In 1766, she accepted an invitation to visit London, where she achieved immediate success. As one contemporary stated, the world went “Angelicamad”. Her time with the Royal Academy of Arts is covered in the third section of the exhibition, which includes Johan Zoffany’s famous group portrait of the Royal Academy members, The Academicians of the Royal Academy, 1771-1772. In it, Kauffmann and Moser’s positions as founding members are reduced to portraits on the wall, as women were not allowed in the Life Room, where the portrait is set.

Left: Portrait of Emma, Lady Hamilton, as Muse of Comedy, 1791; private collection. Right: Portraits of Domenica Morghen and Maddalena Volpato as Muses of Tragedy and Comedy, 1791. National Museum in Warsaw MNW. Photo: Piotr Ligier © Collection of National Museum in Warsaw.

The last section of the show is dedicated to Kauffmann’s late career in Rome, where she returned in 1782. It was here that her status and reputation prospered, and she became the to-go artist for women who wanted themselves portrayed, such as Portrait of Emma, Lady Hamilton, as Muse of Comedy, 1791. Particularly captivating is Self-portrait at the Crossroads between the Arts of Music and Painting, 1794, in which the artist looks back at the point in her life when she decided to abandon her musical career and devote herself entirely to painting. The work is one of the most highly regarded self-portraits of the 18th century.

The exhibition concludes with one of her few religious paintings, Christ and the Samaritan Woman, 1796; one of two canvases carried in her funeral procession in 1807, organised by her close friend, the sculptor Antonio Canova, along with other contemporary artists and scholars.

Angelica Kauffman: a radiant renaissance

Royal Academy of Arts. 1st March – 30th June 2024

Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD

www.royalacademy.org.uk

Words: Lavinia Dickson-Robinson

Opening picture: Angelica Kauffman, Self-portrait at the Crossroads between the Arts of Music and Painting, 1794. Oil on canvas, 147.3 x 215.9 cm. National Trust Collections (Nostell Priory, The St. Oswald Collection). Photo: © National Trust Images/John Hammond