sat 29/04/2017

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Chris Ofili, National Gallery

Florence Hallett

Flashes of intense colour pulse rhythmically across the piece, contrasting with delicate washes and pools of watery pigment that seem to quiver plumply, set to run uncontrollably at any moment. Lines drawn fast and bold describe four figures, while more tentative, carefully made marks barely delineate a foot, and a bird in a cage.

Queer British Art 1861-1967, Tate Britain

David Nice

"Good for the history of music, but not for music," one of Prokofiev's professors at the St Petersburg Conservatoire used to say of artistically dubious works which created a splash, according to the composer's diaries.

Michelangelo's Madonna and Child

Alison Cole

Michelangelo's Taddei tondo, which depicts the Madonna and Child with the Infant St John in a rocky landscape, is the only Michelangelo marble in...

Geta Bratescu, Camden Arts Centre

Sarah Kent

What a delight to be introduced to an artist whom you have never heard of and whose work is inspirational. Born in Romania in 1926, Geta Brătescu...

The Best Exhibitions in London


America After the Fall, Royal Academy ★★★★ Revelatory portrayal of the artistic response to the Great Depression. Until 4 JuneDavid Hockney, Tate...

Giacomo Balla: Designing the Future, Estorick Collection

Alison Cole

Futurism, fashion and flair: works from the Biagiotti Cigna Collection

Brighton Festival 2017: 12 Free Events

Thomas H Green

Brighton Festival CEO Andrew Comben's guide to this year's best free stuff

DVD: Revolution - New Art for a New World

Sarah Kent

Margy Kinmonth goes in search of the art that launched the Russian Revolution

Road Art: Art's wildest frontier


Street art is so last millennium. All the signs are that road art is the next big thing

Paula Rego: Secrets and Stories review - 'in pictures you can let all your rage out'

Sarah Kent

The artist who talks freely about her marriage, but not the following 30 years

Artist Tyler Mallison: 'I don’t think about materials as being merely visible objects or things'

Mark Sheerin

Technology as material, Madonna as muse: the artist talks about the themes shaping his current exhibition

Fourth Plinth: How London Created the Smallest Sculpture Park in the World

Grayson Perry

Celebrating Trafalgar Square's infamous empty plinth, and its role in changing attitudes to contemporary art

French Touch, Red Gallery

Kieron Tyler

Ground-breaking exhibition digs into the history of French electronic music

Michelangelo & Sebastiano, National Gallery

Florence Hallett

Exceptional loans redeem poor display in a tale of two Renaissance masters

The American Dream: Pop to the Present, British Museum

Marina Vaizey

Sixty years of print-making makes for a thrilling all-American portrait

thertsdesk in Oslo: Mozart beneath a Munch sun

David Nice

A great Norwegian pianist and a live-wire chamber orchestra collaborate with fresh results

Madonnas and Miracles: The Holy Home in Renaissance Italy, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Alison Cole

Lovely, scholarly, multi-sensory insight into domestic Italy 500 years ago

Bruegel, Holburne Museum, Bath

Florence Hallett

A distinguished artistic lineage explored through one of the country's finest collections

Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun, National Portrait Gallery

Sarah Kent

Gender and identity explored by artists born 70 years apart

Deutsche Börse/Roger Mayne, Photographers' Gallery

Bill Knight

Mid-century street photography rubs shoulders with this year's prize shortlist

Vanessa Bell, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Marina Vaizey

The Bloomsbury painter whose life outshone her art

America After the Fall, Royal Academy

Alison Cole

Revelatory portrayal of the artistic response to the Great Depression

Listed: How I Do Love Thee


Let theartsdesk count the ways with our romantic favourites from all over the arts

Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932, Royal Academy

Sarah Kent

An exhibition of Russian art purged of the artists who promoted the revolution

Sunday Book: Philip Hook - Rogues' Gallery

Florence Hallett

An insider spills the beans on the murky world of art dealing

David Hockney, Tate Britain

Alison Cole

Blockbuster to mark the artist's 80th birthday has Los Angeles light and Yorkshire warmth

Michael Andrews, Gagosian Gallery

Marina Vaizey

A new old master of modern art has been revealed

Francis Bacon: A Brush with Violence, BBC Two

Adam Sweeting

Portrait of the artist as disaster area

Lubaina Himid, Modern Art Oxford and Spike Island, Bristol

Sarah Kent

A major talent revealed in a joint retrospective at Oxford and Bristol

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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