tue 19/09/2017

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell Collection review - guilty pleasures at the National Gallery

Florence Hallett

If only a modest fuss is being made about the rare and prestigious loan currently residing in Trafalgar Square, it could be that the National Gallery is keen to forget the role of its former director, Dr Nicholas Penny, in a row about art transportation that centred on the very collection to which these objects belong.

Rachel Whiteread, Tate Britain review – exceptional beauty

Sarah Kent

The gallery walls of Tate Britain have been taken down so turning a warren of interlinking rooms into a large, uncluttered space in which Rachel Whiteread’s sculptures are arranged as a single installation. What a challenge! And curators Ann Gallagher and Linsey Young are to be congratulated for pulling off this difficult feat so seamlessly. 

The Best Exhibitions in London


Fahrelnissa Zeid, Tate Modern ★★★ Rediscovering a forgotten genius of 20th century who was erased from history. Until 8 OctMatisse in the Studio,...

DVD: Every Picture Tells a Story

Marina Vaizey

James Scott’s filmography is wide-ranging, including the 1982 short film A Shocking Accident, based on the Graham Greene story, which won an Academy...

h.Club 100 Awards: Art, Design and Craft -...

Florence Hallett

Art, design and craft is such a broad category that it is no surprise – even less a criticism – that most of the nominees comfortably inhabit just...

Sue Steward 1946-2017: She came, she saw, she salsa'd


The Arts Desk's adventurous music and photography critic remembered

James Hamilton: Gainsborough - A Portrait review - an artistic life told with verve and enthusiasm

Marina Vaizey

An original, chatty but scholarly biography of the great English artist

Matisse in the Studio, Royal Academy review - a fascinating compilation

Marina Vaizey

Intriguing insight into the artist's relationship with his possessions

Trajal Harrell: Hoochie Koochie, Barbican review - flamboyant and mesmerising

Sarah Kent

Narcissism meets restraint in a fascinating hybrid of performance art and dance

Rose Finn-Kelcey: Life, Belief and Beyond, Modern Art Oxford review - revelation and delight

Sarah Kent

First posthumous show of an influential but little-known artist

Enter theartsdesk's Young Reviewer of the Year Award


In association with The Hospital Club's h.Club 100 Awards, we're launching a new competition to find a brilliant young critic

The Encounter, National Portrait Gallery review - dazzlingly evocative drawings

Florence Hallett

An unexpected glimpse inside the artists' studios of the past

theartsdesk in Antwerp: Richard Deacon says nothing

Mark Sheerin

Art and life are irreconcilable in the British sculptor's solo show

theartsdesk at Les Rencontres d'Arles: breadth and depth at the veteran photo festival

Bill Knight

The world in focus at inspirational annual photography event

The Exhibition Road Quarter review, V&A - an intelligent and much needed expansion

Marina Vaizey

One of the country's great museums gets a makeover

Sargent, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - wonders in watercolour

Marina Vaizey

The great portraitist lets his hair down

Portraying a Nation, Tate Liverpool review – an inspired juxtaposition

Sarah Kent

Two artists hounded by the Nazis for their unflinching portrayal of the German people

National Gallery of Ireland review - bigger and better

Marina Vaizey

Dublin celebrates the reopening of its refurbished art gallery with Vermeer

Fahrelnissa Zeid, Tate Modern review - rediscovering a forgotten genius

Sarah Kent

How a major 20th century painter was erased from history

A Handful of Dust, Whitechapel Gallery review - grime does pay

Sarah Kent

From macro to micro, the seduction of dust knows no bounds

Michelangelo: Love and Death review - how to diminish a colossus

Alison Cole

Earnest and worthy cinematic documentary fails to bring the glorious artist to life

Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! Serpentine Gallery

Sarah Kent

The man in a frock reflects on a divided Britain and makes kitsch okay

The Discovery of Mondrian review - the most comprehensive survey ever

Florence Hallett

Marking 100 years of De Stijl, The Hague celebrates a local hero

Jean Arp: Poetry of Forms review - subversive pioneer honoured in Holland

Alison Cole

A celebratory retrospective in Otterlo is heading for Margate

Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave, British Museum

Florence Hallett

The final years of Japan's greatest artist

The Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold


Works by Basquiat and Lichtenstein have joined an exclusive list. Who else is on it?

Highlights from Photo London 2017 - virtual reality meets vintage treasure

Bill Knight

Our resident photographer rummages through a mixed bag

Visual art at Brighton Festival - disturbing, playful, but ultimately rudderless

Mark Sheerin

A depleted art strand lacks direction

57th Venice Biennale review - riveting and bewildering

Alison Cole

Extreme art trek provides enough high points to justify the foot sores

Footnote: A brief history of british art

The National Gallery, the British Museum, Tate Modern, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Royal Collection - Britain's art galleries and museums are world-renowned, not only for the finest of British visual arts but core collections of antiquities and artworks from great world civilisations.

Holbein_Ambasssadors_1533The glory of British medieval art lay first in her magnificent cathedrals and manuscripts, but kings, aristocrats, scientists and explorers became the vital forces in British art, commissioning Holbein or Gainsborough portraits, founding museums of science or photography, or building palatial country mansions where architecture, craft and art united in a luxuriously cultured way of life (pictured, Holbein's The Ambassadors, 1533 © National Gallery). A rich physician Sir Hans Sloane launched the British Museum with his collection in 1753, and private collections were the basis in the 19th century for the National Gallery, the V&A, the National Portrait Gallery, the original Tate gallery and the Wallace Collections.

British art tendencies have long passionately divided between romantic abstraction and a deep-rooted love of narrative and reality. While 19th-century movements such as the Pre-Raphaelite painters and Victorian Gothic architects paid homage to decorative medieval traditions, individualists such as George Stubbs, William Hogarth, John Constable, J M W Turner and William Blake were radicals in their time.

In the 20th century sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, painters Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, architects Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers embody the contrasts between fantasy and observation. More recently another key patron, Charles Saatchi, championed the sensational Britart conceptual art explosion, typified by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. The Arts Desk reviews all the major exhibitions of art and photography as well as interviewing leading creative figures in depth about their careers and working practices. Our writers include Fisun Guner, Judith Flanders, Sarah Kent, Mark Hudson, Sue Steward and Josh Spero.

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