thu 29/10/2020

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

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

Jenny Gilbert

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 strand in Britain’s recent history but who is virtually unknown to today’s under-40s. Michael who?

Sin, National Gallery review - great subject, modest show

Sarah Kent

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 remind oneself of the disastrous concept of original sin that weaves guilt into our very DNA by arguing that we are conceived in sin.

Bruce Nauman, Tate Modern review - the human...

Sarah Kent

"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...

Artemisia, National Gallery review - worth the...

Florence Hallett

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...

Hold Still, National Portrait Gallery review -...

Marina Vaizey

A digital exhibition for digital times – and just right: as a reproductive medium, photographs can work brilliantly when reproduced again. Currently...

My Rembrandt review - hard cash and hubris

Florence Hallett

Characters historical and contemporary mingle in an entertaining portrait of the art world

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

Marina Vaizey

A sumptuous display from the Royal Collection heralds a top class reopening

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

Florence Hallett

The artist's most celebrated works launch a new public art project in west London

The Golden Age of Modern Spanish Art, Colnaghi review - the sun shines in the City of Light

Florence Hallett

A celebration of little known Spanish painters as the London art world emerges again

Visual Arts Lockdown Special 4: half-way houses

Katherine Waters

Some galleries prepare to reopen, others remain closed; online still offers riches

Celia Paul: My Studio, Victoria Miro review - sublime isolation

Florence Hallett

One of the great painters of our time responds to life in lockdown

Shirley Baker: A Different Age, James Hyman Gallery review - the old at leisure

Florence Hallett

A little-known photographer and an overlooked subject take the spotlight

Explore Soane review - the museum restored and in 3D

Florence Hallett

Two favourite rooms remain accessible via a digital twin

Christo (1935-2020) - 'Beauty, science and art will always triumph'

Florence Hallett

One of the great visionaries of our era, Christo believed absolutely in art for art's sake

Dalí Theatre-Museum, Figueres, virtual tour review - tantalising but unsatisfactory

Florence Hallett

The magic of Dalí's private world is lost in its virtual form

Visual Arts Lockdown Special 3: gigapixel Rembrandt, magic mushrooms, and more

Florence Hallett

The best art online this week

Unto the Last: Two Hundred Years of John Ruskin, Watts Gallery–Artists' Village, review - a breath of fresh air

Florence Hallett

The former home of Victorian artists GF and Mary Watts is a restorative treat, even online

XXI presented by ARTCELS, HOFA Gallery review - art as investment

Florence Hallett

Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Banksy and more come together in a depressing investment portfolio

Visual Arts Lockdown Special 2: read, search, listen, create

Katherine Waters

Our pick of visual arts during lockdown

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse, Royal Academy, Exhibition on Screen/Facebook Premiere - a hardy perennial returns

Florence Hallett

Monet's garden at Giverny provides an escape back to a hit exhibition from 2016

Van Eyck: An Optical Revolution, Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent online review - capturing the unrepeatable

Florence Hallett

A short but evocative guided tour of this exceptional exhibition goes online

Visual Arts Lockdown Special 1: DIY art, Russell Tovey's chat show, and guided tours online

Florence Hallett

Our pick of the visual arts during lockdown

Rebuilding Notre-Dame: Inside the Great Cathedral Rescue, BBC Four review - a race against time

Florence Hallett

A year after the devastating fire, the cathedral's future is still uncertain

10 Questions for Irina Nalis

Joe Muggs

Multidisciplinary thinking at a multidisciplinary festival in a time of crisis

Léon Spilliaert, Royal Academy review - a maudlin exploration of solitude

Sarah Kent

The world seen through the eyes of melancholy

Among the Trees, Hayward Gallery review - a mixture of euphoria and dismay

Sarah Kent

Our complex relationship with trees explored to powerful effect

Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age, National Gallery review – beautifully observed vignettes

Sarah Kent

The theatre of domestic life in 17th century Holland

Bill Brandt/Henry Moore, The Hepworth Wakefield review - a matter of perception

Katherine Waters

Cerebral show teases out fascinating affinities between photography and sculpture

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

Florence Hallett

The artist's close friends star in the first exhibition of his drawings for over 20 years

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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