Prospect recommends

Five things to do this month
September 18, 2013

Silvia Koller with Bird-Cage by Broncia Koller-Pinell, 1907-8, Vienna


Facing the Modern National Gallery, from 9th October

This exhibition, the first of its kind in the UK, explores how, between 1867 and 1918, portraiture became the spearhead of a new art movement. Inspired by contemporary ideas about sex and psychology, Gustav Klimt, and later Oskar Kokoschka, Richard Gerstl and Egon Schiele, painted portraits which exposed the subconscious fears and torments of Vienna’s middle classes in the late days of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

“Facing the Modern” reveals a complex network of patrons and artists, of different religious and ethnic backgrounds, all supporting this newly expressive art. Among the masterpieces on show are a number by Klimt, including a poignant painting of the Jewish art patron Hermine Gallia, whose family were later driven from Vienna by anti-Semitism. As with many of Klimt’s portraits, there is a tension between the calm, characterful gaze of the subject and the diaphanous, swirling white dress, which curves around Gallia’s body and becomes part of the pattern of the painting’s surface.

Emma Crichton-Miller


Prince Avalanche

On release from 18th October

Alvin and Lance are on the road, literally. It is 1988, and with their yellow paint machine they are marking the empty tarmac through Texan woods in the aftermath of forest fires. The monotonous task and isolation affect them differently. Autodidact Alvin (Paul Rudd) perceives in solitude the possibility of self-improvement; bored young Lance (Emile Hirsch) yearns for sex. Inspired by a (no doubt bleaker) Icelandic film, Prince Avalanche is a sweetly melancholy tale, which won its director, David Gordon Green, the Silver Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. Green’s body of work is eclectic—from the Terrence Malick-influenced George Washington (2000) to a commercial stoner comedy like Pineapple Express (2008). He follows enthusiasms and collaborates with friends; Prince Avalanche is the happy accident of another project falling through. Though set in the 1980s, it recalls films from earlier decades—there are touches of absurdist comedy, landscape documentary, and even silent film, with a cracking soundtrack by Texas band Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo.

Francine Stock


LA Dance Project

Sadler’s Wells, 2nd to 4th October

Benjamin Millepied’s LA Project is not so much a dance company as an artist collective. Aside from Millepied himself, the French dancer-turned choreographer, the small company includes heavyweight movers and shakers like composer Nico Muhly (who includes Philip Glass and Bjork among his collaborators), and the producer and former programme director of Paris Grand Opera Charles Fabius. Millepied’s company was formed in the wake of the 2010 ballet/horror movie Black Swan. Not only did Millepied choreograph the dance sequences, he also appeared in it and married the leading lady, Natalie Portman; a triple whammy that raised his profile enough to make the move from New York to Los Angeles and start a company in a town not distinguished by its ballet history.

Combining new work with under-performed older works from major choreographers such as Merce Cunningham, Millepied designs programmes as challenging as they are entertaining. This time the company will be performing William Forsythe’s 1993 work, Quintett, a life-affirming meditation on the imminent death of the choreographer’s wife from cancer. New works by Millepied and rising star Justin Peck complete the programme. This is the last chance to see the company with Millepied at the controls; next year he takes over as Director of Dance at Paris Opera Ballet. Neil Norman



Birmingham Rep, 16th to 19th October

As the banks totter and the EU fractures, four playwrights in four cities—Birmingham, Dresden, Zagreb and Bydgoszcz (Poland)—have set out to channel our contemporary attitudes towards Europe. The UK’s gifted Steve Waters, author of The Contingency Plan (2009), an environmentally clued-up two-play epic, should ensure against this ambitious project evaporating in a welter of ticked boxes. The aim is to deal with large issues—national identity, neo-fascism, crumbling currencies—in a tough and humorous manner.

Waters has worked with his fellow writers over the past year and Europa’s performance in Birmingham coincides with the re- opening of the Rep in its centenary year after a two-year closure and rebuild. Europa will be seen in a brand new 300-seater studio. The space has adaptable walls, a hydraulically operated stage, and a state-of-the-art, tension-wired lighting grid; it’s an ideal forum, ready for poetry readings, talks, song recitals, debates… and a provocative “event” such as this play.

Michael Coveney


The Cheapside Hoard: London’s Lost Jewels

Museum of London, from 11th October

The story of the “Cheapside Hoard” is a rich and satisfying one. Workmen demolishing tenements in London’s Cheapside in 1912 found a priceless collection of jewels under a cellar floor. Enter “Stony Jack,” a pawnbroker who coached the workers to bring him “every scrap” and then sold them to the Museum of London.

The heroes of the next act are the historians who have uncovered the hoard’s origins. It was almost certainly jeweller’s stock, hidden between 1640 and 1666. The exhibition weighs up theories about why it was buried, whether for fear of theft during plague or civil war, or, less likely, the Great Fire. Some mystery remains: the owner didn’t live to reclaim his treasure.

Most striking are a watch set in a hexagonal Colombian emerald and a 1st century AD cameo probably depicting Cleopatra—lavish works showing a society discovering the New World and rediscovering ancient ones.

Laura Marsh