sun 19/01/2020

Visual arts

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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Caravaggio & Bernini, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna - high emotion in 17th century Rome

It doesn’t matter where you stand, whether you crouch, or teeter on tiptoe: looking into the eyes of Bernini’s Medusa, 1638-40, is impossible. The attempt is peculiarly exhilarating, a game of dare made simultaneously tantalising and absurd by the...

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Dora Maar, Tate Modern review - how women disappear

In one of Dora Maar’s best known images, a fashion photograph from 1935 (pictured below), a woman wearing a backless, sparkly evening gown appears to be making her way backstage through a proscenium’s drapes. The star of the show exits the limelight...

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Eco-Visionaries, Royal Academy review - wakey, wakey!

As I write, I’m listening to Clara Rockmore intoning The Swan by Saint-Saëns. Her melancholy humming also welcomes you to Eco-Visionaries along with a globe suspended in the cloudy waters of a polluted fish tank. This simple installation by artist...

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Charlotte Salomon: Life? or Theatre?, Jewish Museum London review - rallying against death

For a loved one to die by suicide provokes both pain and hurt. Pain, because they are gone. Hurt, because it can feel like an indictment or a betrayal. For Charlotte Salomon, the suicides that ripped holes in her family were also foreshadowings...

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Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, Saatchi Gallery review - worth its weight?

In 1922 Hussein Abdel-Rassoul, a water boy with Howard Carter’s archaeological dig in the Valley of the Kings, accidentally uncovered a step in the sand. It proved to be the breakthrough for which Carter, on the hunt for the final resting place of...

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The Best Exhibitions in London

 Bridget Riley, Hayward Gallery ★★★★ A comprehensive celebration of the artist's 70-year career. Until 26 JanGeorge Stubbs: 'all done from Nature', MK Gallery ★★★★ A glorious menagerie. Until 26 JanHogarth: Place and Progress, Sir John Soane’s...

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George Stubbs: 'all done from Nature', MK Gallery review - a glorious menagerie

Artist George Stubbs liked horses. The MK Gallery’s exhibition “all done from Nature” will try to convince you that he also cared about people. He did, to an extent; the commissions came that way. But about half way through the exhibition, the...

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Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits, Royal Academy review - mesmerising intensity

Lucian Freud died in 2011 after a career spanning some 70 odd years. Over the decades, he painted and drew himself repeatedly, creating a fascinating portrait of a man who spent an inordinate amount of time scrutinising himself and others.One of the...

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Bridget Riley, Hayward Gallery review - the thrill of seeing

“People collect diamonds because they sparkle; or they sit on a bench in Cornwall and look out to sea”. At the Hayward Gallery for the opening of her retrospective, Bridget Riley speaks of such uncomplicated pleasures with evident delight. To...

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Hogarth: Place and Progress, Sir John Soane’s Museum review - state of the nation

Of the British, the English have a reputation for satire. They’re also prone to stupidity. The combination of biting morality and excoriating wit required to deride this tendency reached notable heights in the work of engraver and painter William...

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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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