Katharina Fritsch

A round-up: Miles Aldridge, Somerset House; Katharina Fritsch, Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square; Michael Landy, ‘Saints Alive’, National Gallery

Yesterday I took in a couple of exhibitions in and around central London. What follows is more a collection of immediate responses than any sort of at-length review. Take from them what you will…

First up, Miles Aldridge, ‘I Only Want You to Love Me’, Somerset House, 10 July – 9 September 2013

Miles Aldridge for Vogue Italia

A career retrospective of sorts of the fashion photographer Miles Aldridge, this tight show was bright and shiny and visually stunning with lush, saturated colour and a highly strung sense of pop.

Aldridge’s creative collaborations with Italian Vogue in particular are pretty impressive – he conjures these dark, female domestic narratives and tableaux, working initially from sketches and stories,  which Vogue then dress in high couture. Think super-saturated plasticised Stepford Wives and a compelling, creepy beauty.

 

From here, it was a short walk to Trafalgar Square to see Katharina Fritsch, Hahn/Cock, Fourth Plinth, 25 July 2013 – 2014.

Katharina Fritsch, Hahn/Cock, Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, 2013-2014

The latest Fourth Plinth commission was unveiled in Trafalgar Square this week, Hahn/Cock by German sculpture Katharina Fritsch. There’s a lot of mileage to be had in this work in the form of cheap gags but as an obvious metaphor for all the other male posturing going on in Trafalgar Square – from statues to street performers – it’s a straightforward enough work to appreciate with enough visual bang to be an effective addition to the Square.

And what with giving Boris Johnson the chance to make a complete, well, cock of himself by not being able to say the word ‘cock’ on its unveiling, well that was just a free gift with commission really.

Lastly, a visit to see Michael Landy, ‘Saints Alive’, National Gallery, 23 May – 24 November 2013

Michael Landy has been at the National Gallery since 2009 as the eighth Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist. Bringing his interests in assemblage, destruction and the story of things to bear here, Landy’s seven mechanical sculptures bring to life the deaths of several saints including Jerome, Thomas, Francis of Assissi and Catherine of Alexandria who are portrayed elsewhere in the gallery in paintings by artists including Botticelli and Carlo Crivelli.

These larger than life sculptures are animated by the pushing of pedals and pulling of levers and there’s something quite shocking about seeing Saint Jerome thump his fibreglass chest with a heavy rock in the hope of quietening his impure sexual thoughts, never mind Apollonia reliving her torture by yanking her teeth out with a pair of pliers.

There’s a great beauty to the sculptural, mechanical elements of these works and Landy’s preparatory collages, which decorate the walls of the first hall, are just exquisite. It’s well worth a visit.

 

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