wed 24/02/2021

Visual arts

Best of 2020: Visual Arts

Unhappy as it is to be ending the year with museums and galleries closed, 2020 has had its triumphs, and there is plenty to look forward to in 2021. Two much anticipated exhibitions at the National Gallery were delayed and subject to closures and...

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Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Tate Britain review - enigmatic figures full of life

A person in a brown polo neck turns away, looking down (pictured below right). The encounter feels really intimate; we are almost breathing down this beautiful neck and exquisitely painted ear. Yet the subject retains their privacy; you can’t even...

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Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch, Royal Academy review - juxtapositions that confuse rather than clarify

Even before going to art school, Tracey Emin discovered the work of the Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch. And even though he was born 100 years before her, she embraced him as a kindred spirit. One can see why. Whether painting figures,...

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Zanele Muholi, Tate Modern review - photography as protest

Hail the Dark Lioness (Somnyama Ngonyama in Zulu) is a powerful celebration of black identity. These dramatic assertions of selfhood are more than just striking self portraits, though. South African artist Zanele Muholi uses the pronouns they and...

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Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer, Barbican Art Gallery review - mould-breaker, ground-shaker

It must be tough being Michael Clark, subject of one the largest retrospectives ever dedicated to a choreographer still living. Post-punk’s poster boy is that curious thing, a creative figurehead who defined a very particular anti-establishment...

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Sin, National Gallery review - great subject, modest show

Sin, what a wonderful theme for a show – so wonderful, in fact, that it merits a major exhibition. The National Gallery’s modest gathering of 14 pictures, mainly from the collection, can’t possibly do it justice; yet it’s worth a visit if only to...

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Bruce Nauman, Tate Modern review - the human condition writ large in neon

"The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths” reads the neon sign (pictured below right) welcoming you to Bruce Nauman’s Tate Modern retrospective. The message is tongue-in-cheek, of course. How on earth could an artist cope with such...

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Artemisia, National Gallery review - worth the wait

It takes nerve to throw a shadow across the face of your heroine, still more to banish to the margins the severed head that might so easily dominate the painting’s centre ground. Instead, in imagining the aftermath of Judith’s beheading of...

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Hold Still, National Portrait Gallery review - snapshots from lockdown

A digital exhibition for digital times – and just right: as a reproductive medium, photographs can work brilliantly when reproduced again. Currently closed for a major redevelopment, the National Portrait Gallery asked members of the public to send...

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My Rembrandt review - hard cash and hubris

In the gloomy splendour of Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire, the 10th Duke of Buccleuch gazes up at Rembrandt’s Old Woman Reading, 1655. The painting has belonged to the Scott family for more than 250 years, and like generations before him, the...

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George IV: Art & Spectacle, The Queen's Gallery review - all is aglitter

Prince of Wales, Prince Regent, and finally King: George IV, (1762-1830) was an unpopular and greedy ruler, but his compulsive collecting and passion for redecorating have made a huge contribution to the arts of the nation, and form a significant...

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Khadija Saye: In This Space We Breathe, 236 Westbourne Grove review - a celebrated series finds new resonance

Khadija Saye was 24 when she died in the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017, the same year that her series of photographic self-portraits showed in the Diaspora Pavilion at the Venice Biennale: she was the youngest artist in a roster of well-established...

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