October 5, 2016
Autumn. The season of cooler weather, multicolored leaves, long strolls in the Heath and marrons glacés, the time when we all start reminiscing about our summer fun and get ready for winter. However, the fall season is not only warmer clothes and hot chocolate, but also the time for major art happenings around the world.
Autumn, and especially October, is the time to follow new fashion trends at fashion weeks in the major cities, and to enjoy weeks of art. The Old World’s art capital – London – started long ago to prepare for the first week of October, aka the busiest and most stressful time in the art world.
The annual arrival of Frieze – the art fair opening in Regent’s Park October 6-8th – and it’s daughter Frieze Masters trigger parallel art happenings, such as the most important contemporary art evening auctions, art festivals, art shows and a myriad of talks and events throughout the capital, in order to benefit from the arrival of the art world’s mighty and try to get a piece of that juicy cake.
Find below a list of TOP artsy things to do this October in London and, believe me, you will want to be one to visit them:
Arguably the most well-known art fair today, though not the most visited one (according to the annual report by ArtVista) Frieze opens for the 13th time this October at Regent’s Park.
Note-by: if you feel unsure about spending 60 pounds on combined ticket to both Frieze&Frieze Masters, make sure to stroll in Regent’s Park – Frieze Sculpture Park is free for all and this year features canonical artists such as Jean Dubuffet, Ed Herring, and Lynn Chadwick just to name a few. The Sculpture Park will be on view for you to visit until January 8th, 2017.
The fair of contemporary African Art, 1:54 will return for the forth time to Somerset House this October. Representing over 50 African countries, 1:54 breaks the traditional approaches to art fairs and delivers a must-see program. The largest edition yet, the fair takes over the whole Somerset House this October and showcases 40 galleries.
Note-by: stop by the open-air installation by Zak Ove at the Somerset House’s courtyard, as well as by the unmissable exhibition of the exceptional Malick Sidibé (Malian photographer) – the exhibition will be on view for you to see up until January 15th, 2017.
Presumably you heard of the name Pollock. Or you heard that one of his paintings titled No 5 (1948) is one of the most expensive paintings in history and was sold for $165.4 million at an auction. Or maybe you didn’t. But the fact is that this exhibition is the first major retrospective of the Abstract Expressionist art movement in the UK in 70 years. Think abstraction, color fields and visual travel. You ought to see it.
Note-by: The most interesting part is the inclusion of not only famous names like Pollock and Rothko in the exhibition, but also of other artists who contributed to the movement.
This must-see exhibition presents just how talented Picasso was. The show will display portraits created during every stage of the artist’s career and will showcase famous masterpieces, as well never seen before works from private collections.
Note-by: the granddaughter of the artist, Diana Widmaier-Picasso, will be in conversation with the director of the National Portrait Gallery, Dr Nicholas Cullinan, on the 6th of October at 7pm, giving her views on Picasso’s portraiture.
Another must-visit show in London focuses on Caravaggio. It is important to note, though, that the primary accent will be given to the influence that the artist had on his contemporaries by showcasing the works of lesser-known artists of the time. So-called Caravaggism will be explored throughout the exhibition and bring together works by Caravaggio and his European followers.
Note-by: The National Gallery created a series of events and talks to introduce visitors to the Caravagesque style and to Caravaggio himself throughout the month of October. If you are a fan of Baroque art, or just a curious soul, make sure to check some of them out.
February 21, 2016
Based in London, art historian, freelance writer, and educator Ben Street is known for his lectures at museums in the UK such as the National Gallery and the Tate in London, as well as his guided art history tours in cities such as Paris, Venice, Florence, and Vienna among others. In addition to running “Ben Street Art History Tours”, Ben also serves at the course director for Christie’s London and gives lectures for Art Pursuits Abroad Unlimited in the Netherlands and in London. Ben received his MA in art history and English literature from the University of Edinburgh in 2001 and hasn’t stopped contributing to the art world ever since.
I reached out to Ben to pick his brain about his work and his vibrant passion for art.
1.Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. How long have you been interested in art and art history? How did you get started giving lectures and tours?
Like all small children, I was immediately interested in art from a very young age. Much later on, as a teenager, I discovered this thing called ‘art history’, and have spent the rest of my time trying to work out what it is (and still haven’t). I was instantly drawn to classic modernism – Picasso, Miro, Bacon – and it took years for me to appreciate anything earlier than that. I’ve been giving lectures about art to various audiences, more or less for the last 12 years or so. I’m freelance now, but it’s taken a long time to get here. Mostly saying yes to everything, to begin with at least. Except unpaid internships: do not do unpaid internships.
2.Your work covers a variety of different time periods. Everything from Caravaggio to Jeff Koons! Do you have any favorite artists or stylistic movements?
My favourite artists or periods tend to change every week or so, depending on writing and teaching projects. But I always return to American art of the early 50s, just after abstract expressionism and just before pop art, when anything could happen, and did.
3. What have been your most popular tours?
Probably Venice Biennale trips, which combine contemporary art with Renaissance painting in various churches across the city. The contrast is illuminating and the links even more so.
4.You are quite active on Twitter and Instagram. What role do you think social media plays in the art world? What are the advantages and disadvantages for museums and art historians in the age of social media?
It depends on what the ‘art world’ is – if you mean the market, I couldn’t comment. If you mean artists, it’s probably quite useful. For me, it’s a way of throwing ideas around, sometimes in the form of photographs, which can start conversations with others that you might otherwise have had inside your own head. Art historians and museums tend to use social media pretty effectively – it’s a good way of letting some air into the library. Having said that, the relentless utopianism around social media can lead to some institutions – museums especially – to act like the one kid at school who’s desperate to be everyone’s friend.
5.Who is your target audience (if you have one)?
Anyone, if not everyone.
6.What are some challenges that you face in terms of engaging modern audiences?
There’s nothing particular about modern audiences that makes them any less capable of engaging with works of art. They don’t need to use their phones to be comfortable in a museum. I don’t need to crowbar contemporary allusions in to help people make sense of things. They just need to be alive, and I need to be doing my job well.
7. What is distinctive about London’s art scene compared to other cities you have visited or given tours in?
I’m not sure. When you’re inside most contemporary art galleries, you could be anywhere in the world. There’s just a lot more of it, I suppose. It might be getting less distinctive, gradually.
8. What direction do you think Art Education is going in?
Downwards. But we can change that.
9. Do you have any exciting tours planned for the coming year?
I’m taking some groups to Holland in a few months, to look at Golden Age painting, which is booked out – more coming soon, which I’ll announce on my website. Vienna, New York, and Rome are all possibilities.
10. If time and money were no object, where would you go on your ultimate art history tour?
The Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, in 1303.
11. Which three artists (living or dead) would you have dinner with and what would you serve them?
Dorothea Tanning, Giambattista Tiepolo and Robert Irwin. Fish tacos and English ale.
For more information about Ben and his work check out:
and his personal website: