wed 27/09/2023

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Marina Abramović, Royal Academy review - young performers stand in for the absent artist

Sarah Kent

One of the most cherished memories of my 40 plus years as an art critic is of easing my way between Marina Abramović and her partner Ulay. They were standing either side of a doorway at Documenta in Kassel, Germany, leaving just enough room for people to squeeze through, trying not to touch their naked bodies.

Beatriz Milhazes: Maresias, Turner Contemporary review - the taste and sight of Brazil

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

For those unable to travel to far-flung places this summer, look no further than Turner Contemporary. Featuring the work of Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes, the exhibition transports you to the sandy beaches, vibrant streets and candle-lit cathedrals of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Differently Various, The Curve, Barbican review...

Saskia Baron

The Barbican’s effort to open up the art centre to a wider audience than just City workers and wealthy local residents makes a leap forward with a...

Anselm Kiefer: Finnegans Wake, White Cube...

Mark Kidel

As a child, Anselm Kiefer tells us, in a bombed out German city, he would play in the rubble, creating life out of ruin and destruction. As an artist...

Jean Cooke: Ungardening, Garden Museum review - a...

Sarah Kent

It’s impossible to think about Jean Cooke’s work without taking into account her relationship with her husband, the painter John Bratby, because his...

Extract: Bacon in Moscow by James Birch

James Birch

Art crosses the Iron Curtain in this complex memoir of suspicion, espionage and opportunity

Manchester International Festival exhibitions review - a new arts centre puts Manchester firmly on the cultural map

Sarah Kent

A host of giant inflatables, tricky balancing acts and a licence to print old master engravings - what's not to like?

Brian Clarke - A Great Light, Newport Street Gallery review - a British master proves his worth

Mark Kidel

Stunning stained glass and immensely inspiring collages

Carrie Mae Weems: Reflections for Now, Barbican review - going from strength to strength on an epic journey

Sarah Kent

Photographs and videos that take inequality in America to task

Dear Earth: Art and Hope in a Time of Crisis, Hayward Gallery review - hope is what we need, but inspiration is a rarity

Sarah Kent

Making good art about climate change proves difficult

Life is More Important than Art, Whitechapel Gallery review - themes of arrival, belonging and departure unite fascinating mixed show

Sarah Kent

The first show curated by the Whitechapel's new director Gilane Tawadros bodes well

Capturing the Moment, Tate Modern review - the glorious power of painting

Sarah Kent

From Picasso onwards, artists have responded to photography by making great paintings

Carey Young: Appearance, Modern Art Oxford review - in the eyes of the law

Mark Sheerin

Video installations explore the all-pervasive world of Kafka

Matter as Actor, Lisson Gallery review - living in a material world

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

A group show addresses the politics of stuff

Moon Is the Oldest TV review - a fitting tribute to a visionary modern artist

Helen Hawkins

Authoritative documentary that defines the genius of Nam June Paik

Sarah Sze: Metronome, Artangel at Peckham Rye station review - an installation of visual complexity and physical simplicity

Sarah Kent

The detritus that accumulates in our over-stimulated brains

Isaac Julien: What Freedom is to Me, Tate Britain review - a journey from making documentaries to making art

Sarah Kent

A film-maker goes from speaking to the street to addressing the museum

Hilma af Klint & Piet Mondrian: Forms of Life, Tate Modern review - the hidden depths of abstract art revealed

Sarah Kent

A world famous modernist and a little known painter, two Titans of abstract art juxtaposed

Grenfell by Steve McQueen, Serpentine Gallery review - a stirring memorial for the tower block inferno

Mark Kidel

Anger and compassion combine to make for an unforgettable experience

Earth Spells: Witches of the Anthropocene, RAMM, Exeter review - this local exhibition deserves a national audience

Mark Sheerin

Bringing the dark arts into the light

Ai Weiwei: Making Sense, Design Museum review - a deep sense of loss permeates this show

Sarah Kent

Installations in which anger and sadness camouflaged by beauty

Berthe Morisot: Shaping Impressionism, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - lightning speed brushwork by an Impressionist maestro

Sarah Kent

An Impressionist painter's view from inside the boudoir

After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art, National Gallery review - an impressive tour de force

Sarah Kent

But many names are missing from this international survey

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: Paths to Abstraction, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle review - secret worlds revealed

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

A journey of artistic and personal discovery like no other

The Ugly Duchess: Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance, National Gallery review - put in context, a much-loved picture reveals its complexity

Sarah Kent

An aged, would-be seductress is reunited with her reluctant partner

Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons, Hayward Gallery review - spooky installations by a master of detail

Sarah Kent

Nelson's worlds within worlds invite you to disappear down the rabbit hole

Sonia Boyce: Feeling Her Way, Turner Contemporary review - a feedback loop of musical union

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

The artist's award-winning Venice Biennale offering comes to Margate

Peter Doig, Courtauld Gallery review - the good, the bad and the unfinished

Sarah Kent

Paintings that run the gamut from the sublime to the banal

Action Gesture Paint, Whitechapel Gallery review - a revelation and an inspiration

Sarah Kent

This exhibition of 'Women Artists and Global Abstraction' will open your eyes

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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