mon 19/08/2019

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

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

David Kettle

Below the Blanket ★★★★  

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

Guy Oddy

The well-spring of certain musical genres and hometowns of certain influential musicians have long been a source of civic pride – and a boost to the tourist industry – in many clued-in parts of the world. One only has to think of the co-opting of Bob Marley’s life and influence in attracting tourist dollars to Jamaica or the raising of the Beatles to mythic status – bus tours and all – in Liverpool.

Helen Schjerfbeck, Royal Academy review -...

Katherine Waters

Light creeps under the church door. Entering as a slice of burning white, it softens and blues into the stone interior, seeming to make the walls...

Beuys' Acorns, Bloomberg Arcade London...

Sarah Kent

The City of London is an ecological disaster. Around Bank, Mansion House and Cannon Street there’s scarcely a green leaf to be seen. Glass, steel,...

Yorkshire Sculpture International review -...

Florence Hallett

Sculpture is as much a part of Yorkshire as cricket and a decent cup of tea, with the “sculpture triangle”, comprising four prestigious museums and...

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

Frank Bowling, Tate Britain review - a marvel

Katherine Waters

Major retrospective of one of the greatest painters alive today

Natalia Goncharova, Tate Modern review - a prodigious talent

Sarah Kent

Russian painter is overwhelming in her range and diversity

Lee Krasner: Living Colour, Barbican review - jaw-droppingly good

Sarah Kent

Eclipsed by her famous husband, a painter finally gets her due

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, The Queen's Gallery review - peerless drawings, rarely seen

Florence Hallett

Drawing was the language of thought for the greatest of Renaissance artists

Manga, British Museum review - stories for outsiders

Katherine Waters

Enormous exhibition on the Japanese art of graphic stories

Anish Kapoor, Lisson Gallery review - naïve vulgarity and otherworldly onyx

Katherine Waters

Duds and gems in mixed show of paintings and sculptures

58th Venice Biennale review - confrontational, controversial, principled

Katherine Waters

Forcefully curated biennale which can overwhelm artists, sometimes purposefully

Cathy Wilkes, British Pavilion, Venice Biennale review - poetic and personal

Katherine Waters

Deeply personal sculptural installation muses on different generations of women and passing time

Fetes and Kermesses in the Time of the Brueghels, Musée de Flandre review - all the fun of the fair

Mark Sheerin

Bruegel's heirs star in a low key but revelatory exhibition in the Flemish countryside

Henry Moore at Houghton Hall: Nature and Inspiration review - big views bring new light

Florence Hallett

Works by the British sculptor find new avenues in a superb Norfolk setting

Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to Celebrate Brighton Festival!


An eclectic line-up spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, comedy, literature and spoken word could be yours with boutique hotel and exquisite meals included

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, Design Museum review - immersive detail

Tom Birchenough

Concentrated archive show reveals the prodigious ferment of a film imagination

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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