Galleries - December 2010

than could be seen in reality. The show at the National Gallery (until 16 January) covers virtually the entire century with major works by Canaletto himself and 'His Rivals' suchas Carlevarijs, Marieschi, Bellotto (Canaletto's nephew) and Francesco Guardi (1712-1793) – the latter perhaps his only true rival, a significant artist whose approach arguably pre-figures the Romantic. AA DIAGHILEV @ V&A Ever since a first encounter with the Diaghilev legend in 1969, when the first of the great sales of costumes and backdrops was previewed (magically, with music, incense and professional costum- iers at work) at the RA, just as I'd started working there, I have been the most convinced of believers that it was largely through Diaghilev that this country, and most of the rest of the world really, got modern art and culture at a more popular level. The superb show at the Victoria and Albert Museum (full of 'old friends' from 1969) to celebrate – a year late – the centenary of its foundation, is an absolute delight, from Gont- charova's intensely evocative backdrop and costume designs for The Firebird to Picasso's sensational costumes for Parade and Matisse's for La Chant du Rossignol. Braque, De Chirico, Bakst, Larionov, the list just goes on and on – is there anyone with whom Diaghilev didn't have dealings? terms our view of the local land- scape and his influence can be seen and felt in the paintings of many working in the genre today. The first major Lanyon retro- spective in nearly forty years at Tate St Ives narrates his de- velopment as an artist through the stages that shaped it. The early and fundamental influence of Gabo and Nicholson – even then tempered by a romantic, almost mystic thread; the birth of his first child; his subsequent rejection of formalism for an expressive broad brushstroke with which he was able to capture not just place but the physical sensations of being in that place and latterly the freedom and lightness of pallet he dis- covered after taking up gliding in 1959. The story ends five years later with the tragic flying accident that caused his death – the lasting legacy is in his work. PP CANALETTO @ NG 'He has more work than he can do in any reasonable time' said a contemporary of Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697-1768) and indeed in some respects this imm- ensely successful artist symbol- ises the Venice of the 18th C. – not least in his very name. A view of the city by Canaletto or one of the other leading vedute painters became a prized souvenir for Grand Tourists. Such was Cana- letto's reputation that he was able to command top prices, but was quite prepared to alter a scene at a patron's whim to include more GAUGUIN @ TM Gauguin has always played sec- ond fiddle to Cézanne in the sym- pathies of British artists and critics, as the fact that this great exhibition at Tate Modern is the first major show for the artist in this country in some 50 years, makes plain. My own, admittedly somewhat glib theory, is that it has something to do with those perennial visual blind-spots of British art, strong colour and intense sensuality (and an acute intellectuality as well perhaps). This show must surely change those perceptions, not least in the understandings that Gauguin also had about formal matters and the unity he sought between all the arts, 2- and 3-D. For, quite apart from the sequence of major paintings, this show also draws attention to Gauguin’s remarkable originality and tech- nical skills as sculptor/ceramicist and printmaker, all hugely in- fluential on 20th C. art. That said, it is also the most moving and melancholy of shows, the pain, personal sacrifices and hardships involved in the making of the work no less ferocious in its way than Van Gogh’s. NU B ill Pryde ‘St Ives Harbour’, Curwen & New Academy After Pablo Picasso, costume for Chinese Conjurer in Parade, 1917 © V&A Paul Gauguin ‘The Loss of Virginity’ 1890-91 Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA, gift of Walter P Chrysler Jr. At Tate Modern Peter Lanyon ‘Saracinesco’ 1961-62 Tate St Ives Canaletto ‘The Stonemason’s Yard’ 1727-28 © The National Gallery, London PUBLICEYE 15. GALLERIES DECEMBER 10