sat 15/08/2020

National Portrait Gallery

David Hockney: Drawing from Life, National Portrait Gallery review - an anatomy of love

For David Hockney, drawing is born out of familiarity: his portraits both express and fulfil the urge to know someone deeply and well. In his 60-year career, he has returned again and again to those closest to him, drawing them often enough that...

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Best of 2019: Visual Arts

Notable anniversaries provided the ballast for this year’s raft of exhibitions; none was dead weight, though, with shows dedicated to Rembrandt, Leonardo and Ruskin among the most original and exhilarating of 2019’s offerings. Happily, a number of...

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Pre-Raphaelite Sisters, National Portrait Gallery review – a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes

Focusing on twelve women who played a key role in the lives of Pre-Raphaelite painters like Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt, this timely exhibition begins with a whimper and ends with a bang. First up at the...

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Tacita Dean: Portrait, National Portrait Gallery / Still Life, National Gallery review - film as a fine art

Sometimes you come across an artwork that changes the way you see the world. Tacita Dean’s film portrait of the American choreographer Merce Cunningham (main picture) is one such encounter. Occupying a whole room at the National Portrait...

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Victorian Giants, National Portrait Gallery review - pioneers of photography

It is a very human crowd at Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography. There are the slightly melancholic portraits of authoritative and bearded male Victorian eminences, among them Darwin, Tennyson, Carlyle and Sir John Herschel. The...

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

What does it take to be included in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition? This year 2,423 photographers entered 5,717 images: 2,373 of those photographers are left wondering what it takes to make the grade. Remarks from the...

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

Some 50 portraits by Paul Cézanne – almost a third of all those the artist painted that have survived – are on view in this quietly sensational exhibition. Eye-opening and heart-breaking, it examines his art exclusively in the context of his...

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The Encounter, National Portrait Gallery review - dazzlingly evocative drawings

As a line flows or falters, registering each slight change in pressure, pause, or occasional reworking, it seems to offer a glimpse into the mind of the artist at work. The line is the instrument of the artist’s eye, the often unpolished,...

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Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun, National Portrait Gallery

This show of work by two artists who use photography to explore the complexities of their own identity has to be the most interesting exhibition ever staged at the National Portrait Gallery, and opening in the same week as International Women's Day...

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Best of 2016: Art

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...

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Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016, National Portrait Gallery

It’s that time of year again. The National Portrait Gallery exhibits the finalists in the annual Taylor Wessing Portrait prize. The judges have seen 4,303 photographs from 1,842 photographers and now show us 57.The imprimatur of the National...

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Picasso Portraits, National Portrait Gallery

There’s something familiar about those dark, piercing eyes, but the impenetrable, mask-like countenance of Picasso’s Self-Portrait with Palette, 1906, is ultimately unknowable. In fact, the painting serves as something of a rebuke: we think we know...

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