The Athletic Aesthetic – Your Arts Society guide to the 2024 Olympics

The All Saints Church, Dahlem and Zoom-Meeting Hüttenweg 46, Berlin

From July to September 2024 Paris will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. But whilst most onlookers will focus on sport, art and design will also play a part, as they have since the games began at Olympia nearly three thousand years ago. Greek art is replete with representations of athletes on vases, plates and bronzes. Every four years modern day hosts unveil dazzling new architecture, in the form of stadia, arenas, velodromes and swimming pools. The athletes themselves act as torch bearers for ever changing ideals of physical perfection. From nudity to Nike, from sand to synthetics, the Olympic story offers art lovers pure gold.

Who’s got our paintings? The story of the Public Catalogue Foundation project

The All Saints Church, Dahlem and Zoom-Meeting Hüttenweg 46, Berlin

One man’s quest to see a favourite painting at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge led to the remarkable project, now known as ‘Art UK’ (and online), which has catalogued over 210,000 thousand oil paintings in UK public ownership since 2003. The project now moves on to sculpture.
Cataloguers hunted down paintings in damp stores, clambered up dodgy ladders, unrolled masterpieces and sad tatters of canvas. Amanda knows! She was one of them. An extraordinary record has been created, which benefits from public interaction online and has become a wonderful resource for education and pleasure.

George Stubbs (1724 – 1806) „The English Leonardo“

The All Saints Church, Dahlem and Zoom-Meeting Hüttenweg 46, Berlin

Many art historians and critics have compared the work of Stubbs to that of Leonardo da Vinci, one even christening him the ‘Leonardo of Liverpool’ to reflect his humble origins as the son of a Liverpool leatherworker. The comparison can seem hubristic until one considers the intense scientific method and investigation that lay behind the production by Stubbs of his world-famous Anatomy of the Horse published in 1766 – a work which revolutionised the understanding and depiction of equine subjects. This lecture looks at the life and work of this country’s greatest animal painter, putting Stubbs in the context of British sporting artists of the eighteenth century more generally. It focusses on his depiction of equestrian subjects such as the National Gallery’s Whistlejacket but also looks at the broader themes he addressed.

Britain versus the Bauhaus: Modern Design in 1930s

The All Saints Church, Dahlem and Zoom-Meeting Hüttenweg 46, Berlin

Staatliches Bauhaus was an art school founded under Weimar Republic by the architect Walter Gropius. From 1919 to 1933 its tutors combined crafts and the fine arts in a radical new approach to design education.
Less well known is the influence of the Bauhaus and other German design schools on design and art education in Britain in this period. As the impact of the economic ‘Slump’ of c.1929-34 hit British manufacturing sales, many in local and national government took the view that Britain’s struggling industrial base could be improved if moves were made to provide for better design education. This lecture looks at some of the work of the key artists involved in improving British design in this period – including Paul Nash, Eric Ravilious, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Roger Fry; and at Unit One – formed by Paul Nash in 1933 to promote modern art, architecture and design.

Cardiff Castle: A Welsh Victorian Camelot

The All Saints Church, Dahlem and Zoom-Meeting Hüttenweg 46, Berlin

Far from being a ruin, Cardiff Castle is one of the most remarkable houses in Britain. Dating from the time of the Romans, centuries of change culminated in the complete transformation undertaken in the 1870s by the Marquess of Bute and his eccentric genius architect William Burges. They created a ‘Feudal extravaganza’ in fifteen highly imaginative interiors, including an Arab room, a Pompeian roof garden and rooms with an astrological theme. The lecture examines this wonderful building and the personalities of those involved.