THIS WEEK: A SELECTIVE GUIDE

TURNER, JEROME ROBBINS, AND THE EYES HAVE IT, TWICE | July 23rd 2008

andereart

Special to MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE

Our guide to what's on around the world, compiled by Jessica Gallucci and Ariel Ramchandani

SHINING A LIGHT ACROSS THE ATLANTIC

Brushed on to a white background instead of the customary brown, J.M.W. Turner's paintings are imbued with so much light that Henri Matisse once likened viewing them to the experience of a man locked in a cellar who is then allowed to open the shutters--“and then, what incandescences! What dazzle! What jewels!” Turner's incandescent canvases have been amassed in the largest ever retrospective of his work in America--now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He elevated the watercolour and precipitated the energy of Impressionism with his swirling, writhing, bleeding light; forms blur as if they are behind the glass of an aquarium. The exhibition relies heavily on the Tate Gallery in London--more than half of the paintings are on loan from there. Gathering all of the works in time for the show's debut at the National Gallery in Washington was a challenge. According to a review of the exhibition in The Economist, many lenders "would not send them across the Atlantic until Congress agreed to double the indemnity for international loan exhibits." There's much to see; indeed, some have complained of too much (Bloomberg cites the "deadening" impact of so many similar canvases). But take the time to illuminate yourself. ~A.R.

J.M.W. TURNER, through September 21st, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU (#1)

The annual Bregenz Festival returns this month, offering a smattering of opera, theatre and cinema, with the Austrian countryside as its breathtaking backdrop (pictured). Tosca, the festival’s headlining show, will be mounted on a floating stage in Lake Constance. Its extravagant set features a 12-tonne cross, a sophisticated sound-system, and a nearly 25-metre-high painting of an eye with a moveable iris. Never mind that Daniel Craig has reportedly just burned through Bregenz on a high-speed car chase and skulked through the audience at Tosca in scenes for the next James Bond film; we’d prefer taking lunch al fresco in the Pfander foothills, or perhaps strolling lakeside, for daytime diversions leading up to the festival’s premiere of the Puccini opera on Wednesday. ~J.G.

TOSCA, July 23rd through August 23rd, Bregenz

THE WEST SIDE COMES TO THE WEST END

"West Side Story", a classic musical about street gangs and forbidden love, transports Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" to the rough and tumble of 1950s New York. Written by Arthur Laurents, with a score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics from Stephen Sondheim, it premiered on Broadway in 1957, made distinctive with sweeping, jazzy choreography from Jerome Robbins. These are the moves that also grace the Academy Award winning film in 1961. Subsequent productions have not varied from the 50-year-old original, often giving the show a cellophane-wrapped feel. For its 50th anniversary, Joey McKneely, a student of Jerome Robbins, has created a production that tweaks the lighting, scenery and design, but does not tamper with the powerful dancing of the original. The result is a vibrant show that sold out theatres in Beijing, Paris and Tokyo before making its way to London's Sadler's Wells this week. Says a critic for the Times on Sunday (who saw the show in Paris): "Robbins’s movement remained urgent. The derisive hips and scissoring leaps, the defensive swagger–all still shimmer with heat and fear." Clearly it's best not to mess with a classic. ~A.R.

"WEST SIDE STORY", through August 31st, Sadler's Wells, London

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU (#2)

Ever feel as though you’re being watched? Visitors to the Pittsburgh Centre for the Arts would have good reason to: hovering over the entrance is a large vermiform apparatus with a body of accordion folds and one huge cartoon eye. And the thing moves, tracking passers-by. “Double-Taker (Snout)” is one of the many friendly robots that have colonised Pittsburgh for Robot 250, an art and technology festival launched by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University. Local arts institutions are gamely geeking out: “Meet the Made” at the Mattress Factory museum is a collection of robotics installations and artworks-in-progress; the Warhol Museum's “We Are Survival Machines” exhibition uses GigaPan technology to simulate a war between robots and zombies. On Sunday afternoon the Mattress Factory’s “Activist Robotics Workshop” aims to produce “experimental prototypes that imagine robots used for social justice”. Let’s hope the curators have read their Asimov. ~J.G.

Robot 250, through July 27th, Pittsburgh

YEATS: THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE TOUCHSCREEN

The National Library of Ireland in Dublin continues to offer a novel examination of the life and work of William Butler Yeats. Since opening in May 2006, the exhibition has attracted over 70,000 visitors, receiving several awards in its opening year. It spools out in all media and dimension, filled with letters, note pages (the scrawl digitised so every penmark is visible), videos, paintings and, of course, his poems, often projected into intimate, softly-lit spaces. The New York Times proclaims the show to be more like a "life-size, walk-through Web site than an ordinary museum show." The exhibition's actual homepage isn't half bad either, featuring an extensive virtual tour of the multi-faceted collection. But don't miss experiencing this Irish poet in all three dimensions. ~A.R.

YEATS: THE LIFE AND WORKS OF WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, National Library of Ireland, Dublin