fri 22/03/2019

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Mike Nelson, The Asset Strippers, Tate Britain review – exhilarating reminder of industrial might

Sarah Kent

Mike Nelson has turned the Duveen Galleries into a museum commemorating Britain’s industrial past (pictured below right). Scruffy workbenches, dilapidated metal cabinets and stacks of old drawers are pressed into service as plinths for the display of heavy duty machines.

The Best Exhibitions in London


An encounter with John Richardson, Picasso's...

Jasper Rees

When I interviewed John Richardson, who has died at the age of 95, he was edging through his definitive four-tome life of the minuscule giant of...

Kader Attia / Diane Arbus, Hayward Gallery review...

Marina Vaizey

Feelings run high at the Hayward Gallery in a fascinating pairing of two artists from widely differing backgrounds. Kader Attia muses on unhappy,...

Louise Bourgeois, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge...

Florence Hallett

Pink walls, slightly dusky in the subdued light of a room shielded from the wintry sun, suggest the bodily concerns of this show, which through the...

Dorothea Tanning, Tate Modern review – an absolute revelation

Sarah Kent

An artist with a unique voice eclipsed by her famous husband

Franz West, Tate Modern review - absurdly exhilarating

Sarah Kent

Raw energy turned into raw art

Phyllida Barlow: Cul-de-sac, Royal Academy review - unadulterated delight

Sarah Kent

The most inspiring show of the year makes sculpture look easy

John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing, Two Temple Place review - inside the mind of a visionary

Marina Vaizey

The Victorian critic's own collection reveals a man of many parts

Don McCullin, Tate Britain review - beastliness made beautiful

Sarah Kent

The darkest, most compelling exhibition you are ever likely to see

Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory review, Tate Modern - plenty but empty

Florence Hallett

A major retrospective of the French post-impressionist is huge, but unilluminating

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum - sumptuous

Katherine Waters

Daring, flair and elegance over 80 years

Fausto Melotti: Counterpoint, Estorick Collection review - harmonious things

Katherine Waters

Compact, focused exhibition on lesser-known Italian sculptor

Bill Viola/Michelangelo: Life Death Rebirth, Royal Academy review - empty rhetoric versus focused intensity

Sarah Kent

An American video artist meets an old master

Best of 2018: Art

Florence Hallett

Reputations restored and revised: a look back at some of this year's best art shows

Edwin Landseer / Rachel Maclean, National Gallery review - a juxtaposition of opposites

Sarah Kent

The Monarch of the Glen refreshed by a Scottish political satirist

Māris Briežkalns Quintet, EFG London Jazz Festival 2018 review - a Rothko symphony

David Nice

Latvian players and composers homage a great artist they can call their own

Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain review - time for a rethink?

Katherine Waters

Wide-ranging exhibition of idiosyncratic English artist, both loved and loathed

Klimt/Schiele, Royal Academy review - the line of gauntness

Maev Kennedy

Elegance and brutality converge in drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna

The new V&A Photography Centre review - a new museum to make us proud

Marina Vaizey

'Collecting Photography: From Daguerreotype to Digital' launches the V&A's latest project

Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill review - a brave attempt to recreate an important collection

Sarah Kent

150 items returned to their Gothic Revival home

Modern Couples, Barbican review - an absurdly ambitious survey of artist lovers

Sarah Kent

Exhibition revises the notion of the artist as lone genius, but reveals little else

Mantegna and Bellini, National Gallery review - curated for curators

Florence Hallett

An intriguing tale undone by loose ends

Elmgreen & Dragset, Whitechapel Gallery review – when is a door not a door ?

Sarah Kent

Reality games played by this artist duo in real time and space

The Everyday and the Extraordinary, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne review - the ordinary made strange

Sarah Kent

Old favourites revisited with pleasure at show of familiar objects transformed

Oceania, Royal Academy review - magnificent encounters

Katherine Waters

Powerful introduction to the art of the Pacific Islands

Space Shifters, Hayward Gallery review - seeing is not always believing

Sarah Kent

Sculptures that trick the eye and gladden the heart

Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt, V&A review - gaming for all

Alfred Quantrill

A comprehensive look at gaming present and future has surprisingly broad appeal

Turner Prize 2018, Tate Britain review - a shortlist dominated by political issues

Sarah Kent

Identity politics, fake news, colonialism and racism addressed in film and video

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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