sat 19/10/2019

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Rembrandt's Light, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - a film-maker out of time?

Florence Hallett

Among the numerous exhibitions marking the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death, this small show at the Dulwich Picture Gallery stands out.

Anna Maria Maiolino: Making Love Revolutionary, Whitechapel Gallery review – a gentle rebellion

Sarah Kent

Now in her mid-seventies, Anna Maria Maiolino has been making work for six decades. Its a long stretch to cover in an exhibition, especially when the artist is not well known. Perhaps inevitably, then, this Whitechapel Gallery retrospective seems somewhat sketchy and opaque, a feeling compounded by having titles in Portuguese.

Gauguin Portraits, National Gallery review - me,...

Florence Hallett

“Gauguin was undoubtedly self-obsessed” begins the National Gallery’s latest dead cert blockbuster, as it cheerfully hijacks a de facto series begun...

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art...

Sarah Kent

The Barbican’s latest offering – a look at the clubs and cabarets set up by artists mainly in the early years of the 20th century – is a brilliant...

Kara Walker: Fons Americanus, Tate Modern review...

Sarah Kent

Soaring some 40 feet up towards the ceiling of Tate Modern’s vast Turbine Hall, Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus looks ludicrously out of place – like a...

William Blake, Tate Britain - sympathy for the rebel

Katherine Waters

Vast and satisfying show for a visionary and iconic artist

Van Gogh’s Inner Circle, Noordbrabants Museum review - the man behind the art

Katherine Waters

Light on paintings, heavy on the biography

Peter Doig, Michael Werner review - ambiguous and excellent

Katherine Waters

First, second and third-guesses encouraged

Tim Walker: Wonderful Things, V&A review - a bracing full-body immersion

Florence Hallett

An exuberant tribute to London's 'palace of dreams'

10 Questions for author Martin Gayford

Marina Vaizey

The prolific writer on his love of art and jazz, and what makes a good writer

Foragers of the Foreshore - London's mudlarks on show

Adrian Evans

The director of Totally Thames introduces this year's festival, including an exhibition of mudlarks and their finds

Artists in Amsterdam, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - a slight but evocative sketch

Florence Hallett

Amsterdam was Europe's economic hub in the 17th century, a fact reflected in its art

Edinburgh Festival 2019 reviews: Below the Blanket / Samson Young: Real Music

David Kettle

Two Edinburgh shows meld music, sound and visual art to beguiling effect

Black Sabbath: 50 years, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery review – not heavy going

Guy Oddy

Half a century of metal is celebrated in Sabbath's home city

Helen Schjerfbeck, Royal Academy review - watchful absences and disappearing people

Katherine Waters

Retrospective of Finnish artist turns on mortality and absence

Beuys' Acorns, Bloomberg Arcade London review – not much to look at, but important all the same

Sarah Kent

An installation that could make a difference

Yorkshire Sculpture International review - Hepworth and Moore loom large

Florence Hallett

A new festival seals Yorkshire's bid to be Britain's home of sculpture

Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life, Tate Modern review – beautiful ideas badly installed

Sarah Kent

The Danish artist who opens our eyes to climate change

Takis, Tate Modern review - science and art collide

Florence Hallett

Sculptor of magnetism, light and sound gets his first major UK retrospective

Les Rencontres d’Arles 2019 review - strength in tradition

Bill Knight

To celebrate its 50th year, the photography festival takes a long view

BP Portrait Award 2019, National Portrait Gallery review - a story for everyone

Marina Vaizey

The annual prize takes the pulse of contemporary portraiture

The Best Exhibitions in London


The capital's best exhibitions now

theartsdesk in Treviso - cultural patronage, Italian style

David Nice

High-level attention to detail in the Fondazione Benetton's support for the arts

Never Look Away review - the healing potential of art

Mark Kidel

The life of artist Gerhard Richter as the basis for a riveting take on recent German history

Félix Vallotton: Painter of Disquiet, Royal Academy review – strange and intriguing

Sarah Kent

An avant-garde artist who paints like Holbein

Cutting Edge: Modernist British Printmaking, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - a cut above

Katherine Waters

Excellent exhibition sheds light on linocuts of neglected Grosvenor School Modernists

Francis Bacon: Couplings, Gagosian Gallery review - sex and power in double figures

Florence Hallett

A small selection focuses on the painter's radical figure paintings

Kiss My Genders, Hayward Gallery review – a shambles

Sarah Kent

Important issues addressed in an exhibition that should have been so much better

Edouard Vuillard: The Poetry of the Everyday, Holburne Museum, Bath review - dizzying pattern and colour

Marina Vaizey

An artist's world encompassed

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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