fri 20/01/2017

Visual Arts Reviews

War in the Sunshine, Estorick Collection

Clem Hitchcock

North London’s much loved Estorick Collection is reopening its doors after a five-month spruce up. The Georgian listed building that houses a 120-piece collection of modern Italian art now boasts a new glass conservatory, opened out entrance hall and "daylight-enhanced" gallery spaces. It all bodes well, even if the reliance on a period of prolonged British sunshine to complete the effect feels a touch optimistic right now. Here’s hoping.


Gavin Turk, Newport Street Gallery

sarah Kent

The timing of Gavin Turk’s retrospective couldn’t be better.


Australia's Impressionists, National Gallery

Marina Vaizey

Painted in 1891 by Tom Roberts, A Break Away! shows us a flock of maddened, thirsty sheep careering down a hillside stripped of grass by drought, accompanied by rollicking sheepdogs and cowboy shepherds on horses. If those sheep pile on top of one another into the puny stream at the bottom of the hill, injury – even death – will occur. The perspective is vertiginous, and the scene almost visibly pulsates with energy. 


Best of 2016: Art

Florence Hallett

Before we consign this miserable year to history, there are a few good bits to be salvaged; in fact, for the visual arts 2016 has been marked by renewal and regeneration, with a clutch of newish museum directors getting into their stride, and spectacular events like Lumiere London, and London’s Burning bringing light in dark times.


Sunday Book: Treasure Palaces - Great Writers Visit Great Museums

Florence Hallett

The modern experience of visiting museums is so far from the hushed contemplation envisaged by our Victorian forebears that the very idea is sufficient to induce a rosy glow of nostalgia, as befits the time of year. And while the Christmas hordes in the Natural History Museum are surely motivated less by the vain hope of a quiet corner than some brief respite from enforced conviviality, museums remain as much a part of the festive cocoon as carol-singing and ghost stories.


Zaha Hadid, Serpentine Gallery

sarah Kent

It is appropriate that this exhibition of Zaha Hadid’s early drawings and paintings should be shown at the Serpentine’s Sackler Gallery, which adjoins the restaurant she designed in 2013. The white, curvilinear extension was one of the first permanent structures she was able to build in London. And looking at her visionary drawings and paintings, it becomes clear why she had to wait so long for her work to be accepted here.


Robert Rauschenberg, Tate Modern

Marina Vaizey

The Good American, a Texan no less, has landed at Tate Modern in style. This posthumous retrospective of the great Robert Rauschenberg includes a paint-bespattered, fully made-up bed hung vertically on the wall, and called – you guessed – Bed,1955 (pictured below right).


Painters’ Painters, Saatchi Gallery

sarah Kent

The nine artists in this exhibition mainly paint large, eye-catching canvases; yet the most arresting image on show is a tiny, rather tentative picture of an unprepossessing man with yellow hair. It is hard to say why Richard Aldrich’s ethereal Future Portrait no 49, 2003 (main picture) is so compelling.


Portrait of the Artist, The Queen's Gallery

Marina Vaizey

Born in Rome and taught by her artist father, Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1652) led a colourfully energetic life. As an adolescent she was raped by her father’s assistant  – an episode which unusually, then as now, actually came to public trial – but she nevertheless became a confident, resolute woman, and a successful artist.


Flaming June, Leighton House Museum

Florence Hallett

The chances are, you’ve only ever seen Flaming June in reproduction: since 1963 it has resided in the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, an out-of-the-way location that reflects the universal disdain for Victorian art in the post-war period.



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