sat 20/04/2019

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now, Gagosian Gallery review - old master, new ways

Florence Hallett

What are we to make of the two circles dustily inscribed in the background of Rembrandt’s c.1665 self-portrait? In a painting that bears the fruits of a life’s experience, drawn freehand, they might be a display of artistic virtuosity, or – more convincing were they unbroken – symbolise eternity.

Edvard Munch: Love and Angst, British Museum review - compassion in the age of anxiety

Florence Hallett

Munch’s The Scream is as piercing as it has ever been, and its silence does nothing to lessen its viscerally devastating effect. It was painted in 1893, but it was a lithograph produced two years later – now the star of the biggest UK exhibition of Munch’s prints for a generation – that would make it famous.

Mary Quant, Victoria & Albert Museum review...

Katherine Waters

Mary Quant first made her name in 1955 with the wildly fashionable King’s Road boutique Bazaar. Initially selling a “bouillabaisse” of stock it was...

Pitzhanger Manor review - letting the light back...

Katherine Waters

When in 1800 the architect Sir John Soane bought Pitzhanger Manor for £4,500, he did so under the spell of optimism, energy and hope. The son of a...

At Eternity's Gate review - Willem Dafoe...

Matt Wolf

It's all go – no, make that Van Gogh –  when it comes to the Dutch post-Impressionist of late. Opening the same week as the Tate...

Van Gogh and Britain, Tate Britain review - tenuous but still persuasive

Florence Hallett

The artist's London years provide an insight into his inner life

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

Sarah Kent

A stirring elegy to Britain's industrial past

The Best Exhibitions in London


The capital's best exhibitions now

Only Human: Martin Parr, National Portrait Gallery review - relentlessly feelgood

Marina Vaizey

Passing shadows across Brexit Britain

An encounter with John Richardson, Picasso's biographer who has died at 95

Jasper Rees

Picasso's definitive biographer recalls the artist he knew

Kader Attia / Diane Arbus, Hayward Gallery review - views from the margins

Marina Vaizey

Two photographers explore colliding worlds

Louise Bourgeois, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge review - a slender but choice selection

Florence Hallett

Representative samples cry out for the domestic setting of Jim Ede's house

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

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.

Close Footnote

Advertising feature


Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

latest in today

Brockes-Passion, AAM, Egarr, Barbican review - fleshly Hande...

Whips, scourges, sinews, blood and pus: where Bach’s two Passions...

SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill, Isango Ensemble, Linbury...

While Bach's and Handel's Passions have been driving thousands to contemplate suffering, mortality and grace, this elegy for black lives lost over...

St Matthew Passion, Ex Cathedra, Skidmore, Symphony Hall Bir...

For the final instalment of their three Matthew Passions this Holy Week, Ex Cathedra gave a large scale performance of Bach’s oratorio in their...

Red Joan review - Judi Dench can't lift lumbering espio...

The decades-long stage relationship between Judi Dench...

Take That, SSE Hydro, Glasgow review - capes and cameos in 3...

This year, says Gary Barlow, marks 30 years since five boys walked into a room in Manchester and auditioned for what...

Climate Change: The Facts, BBC One review - how much reality...

Peer down the glassy dark and you’ll see them. White bubbles trapped in the frozen lake which appear to be rising to the surface. Look through the...

Tommy Tiernan, Shepherd's Bush Empire review - playful...

Tommy Tiernan is something of an institution in his native Ireland, as a...

Loro review – hedonism must have an end

"Them" - the "loro" of the title (with a further play on “l’oro”, gold) - denotes the mostly sleazy opportunists willing to use and be used by "...