tue 16/01/2018

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

The Best Exhibitions in London


Basquiat: Boom for Real, Barbican ★★★★ Appraising the graffiti artist whose paintings fetch over $100 million at auction. Until 28 Jan

Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic, V&A review - nostalgic family fun

Marina Vaizey

What was it about the privileged male Victorian/Edwardian British writer that led to such a fantastical outpouring of books for children that were to embed themselves so thoroughly that they have stayed with their readers into adulthood?

From Life, Royal Academy review - perplexingly...

Florence Hallett

Dedicated to a foundation stone of western artistic training, this exhibition attempts a celebratory note as the Royal Academy approaches its 250th...

Rose Wylie: Quack Quack, Serpentine Gallery -...

Sarah Kent

Three years ago Rose Wylie won the prestigious John Moore’s Painting Prize. She was 80 years old and had been painting away in relative...

Modigliani, Tate Modern review - the pitfalls of...

Katherine Waters

Modigliani was an addict. Booze, fags, absinthe, hash, cocaine, women. He lived fast, died young, cherished an idea of what an artist should be and...

The Machines of Steven Pippin, The Edge, University of Bath review - technology as poetry

Sarah Kent

Art and engineering combined into a potent mix

Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland review, National Gallery - light-filled northern vistas

Marina Vaizey

One of the National Gallery's most popular postcards comes under the spotlight

Highlights from the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 - raw emotion, not always human

Bill Knight

One inveterate - and so far unsuccessful - participant sizes up this year's successes

The Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold


Leonardo's disputed Salvator Mundi has just topped the list. Who else is on it?

Out from the Darkness: painting out prison

Patrick Maguire

Imprisoned as a child, his whole family wrongfully convicted of terrorism offences, Patrick Maguire found solace in art

Red Star Over Russia, Tate Modern review – fascinating history in a nutshell

Sarah Kent

A glimpse into the design, manipulation and dissemination of images in the USSR

Impressionists in London, Tate Britain review - from the stodgy to the sublime

Marina Vaizey

Monet's Westminster views lead an anthology of lesser painters

ArtReview Power 100 - an artist tops the list

Marina Vaizey

The annual stocktake of the art world's main players is published

Age of Terror: Art Since 9/11, Imperial War Museum review - affecting but incoherent

Katherine Waters

Artistic response to terrorism works best in tiny vignettes

Monochrome, National Gallery review - colourless but not dreary

Florence Hallett

An arcane subject brought to life in an ambitious survey

Cézanne Portraits, National Portrait Gallery review - eye-opening and heart-breaking

Marina Vaizey

Hallucinatory intensity in a once-in-a-lifetime show

Tove Jansson (1914-2001), Dulwich Picture Gallery review – more than Moominvalley

Rebecca Sykes

Timely exhibition celebrates Finnish illustrator’s painterly ambition

Soutine's Portraits, Courtauld Gallery review - a superb, unsettling show

Alison Cole

Humanity writ large in cooks, waiters and bellboys by French-Russian portraitist

David Bomberg, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester review - a reputation restored

Katherine Waters

Light shed on neglected British artist by a timely touring exhibition

Harry Potter: A History of Magic, British Library review - weirdly wonderful

Jasper Rees

Loans from JK Rowling sit comfortably alongside ancient books and objects

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Tate Modern review – funny, moving and revelatory

Sarah Kent

Not Everyone Will Be Taken into the Future: the artist who came in from the cold and met his soulmate

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics, V&A review - seven cities, seven masterpieces

David Nice

Stunning range in spacious operatic rooms

h.Club 100 Awards 2017: The Winners


News from The Hospital Club's annual awards for the creative industries, plus theartsdesk's Young Reviewer of the Year

Young Reviewer of the Year Award Winner: Katherine Waters on Marc Quinn

Katherine Waters

The winning entry of theartsdesk's award reviews Drawn from Life at Sir John Soane's Museum

Young Reviewer of the Year Award: the four finalists are...


Announcing the shortlist of our critics' competition, with extracts from each entry

Jasper Johns, Royal Academy review - a master of 50 shades

Marina Vaizey

'Something resembling truth': the master mark-maker transforms the familiar into the exotic

Basquiat: Boom for Real, Barbican review - the myth explored

Sarah Kent

Appraising the graffiti artist whose paintings fetch over $100 million at auction

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

Florence Hallett

How pastel became a truly modern medium

Rachel Whiteread, Tate Britain review – exceptional beauty

Sarah Kent

A singular vision that transforms everyday objects into extraordinary sculptures

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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