sun 21/07/2024

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Bill Viola (1951-2024) - a personal tribute

Mark Kidel

The artist Bill Viola died, after a long illness, early in the morning of Friday 12 July. I had the privilege of getting to know him while making a documentary about his life and work in 2001-2003. He quickly became a friend, as did his wife Kira and his sons, Blake and and Andrei. He felt like a kind of brother, who’d grown up through the same changes that shook culture up in the 1960s and 70s. Although he was American, I felt that we spoke the same language.

In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine 1900-1930s, Royal Academy review - famous avant-garde Russian artists who weren't Russian after all

Sarah Kent

Ukraine’s history is complex and often bitter. The territory has been endlessly fought over, divided, annexed and occupied. From 1917-20 it enjoyed a brief period of independence before being swallowed up once more by the Soviet Union after a vicious three year war – an example that Vladimir Putin is copying with his monstrous invasion.

Francis Alÿs: Ricochets, Barbican review - fun...

Sarah Kent

Belgian artist, Francis Alÿs has filled the Barbican Art Gallery with films of children playing games the world over. Many of them are familiar; they...

Gavin Jantjes: To Be Free, Whitechapel Gallery...

Sarah Kent

Born in Cape Town in 1948, Gavin Jantjes grew up under apartheid. He openly criticised the regime in his work and, forced into exile, was granted...

Laura Aldridge / Andrew Sim, Jupiter Artland,...

Mark Sheerin

Two shows at Jupiter Artland, one in a barn, one in a ballroom, showcase two Scottish artists, whose work shares a sense of lightness and joy. The...

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Judy Chicago: Revelations, Serpentine Gallery review - art designed to change the world

Sarah Kent

At 84, the American pioneer is a force to be reckoned with

Now You See Us: Women Artists in Britain 1520-1920, Tate Britain review - a triumph

Sarah Kent

Rescued from obscurity, 100 women artists prove just how good they can be

Brancusi, Pompidou Centre, Paris review - a sculptor's spiritual quest for form and essence

Mark Kidel

The Paris landmark signs off with a historic survey

Expressionists: Kandinsky, Münter and the Blue Rider, Tate Modern review - a missed opportunity

Sarah Kent

Wonderful paintings, but only half the story

Eye to Eye: Homage to Ernst Scheidegger, MASI Lugano review - era-defining artist portraits

Mark Sheerin

One of Switzerland's greatest photographers celebrated with a major retrospective

Stephen review - a breathtakingly good first feature by a multi-media artist

Sarah Kent

Melanie Manchot's debut is strikingly intelligent and compelling

Fantastic Machine review - photography's story from one camera to 45 billion

Sarah Kent

Love it or hate it, the photographic image has ensnared us all

Yinka Shonibare: Suspended States, Serpentine Gallery review - pure delight

Sarah Kent

Weighty subject matter treated with the lightest of touch

Jane Harris: Ellipse, Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MÉCA, Bordeaux review - ovals to the fore

Mark Sheerin

Persistence and conviction in the works of the late English painter

Sargent and Fashion, Tate Britain review - portraiture as a performance

Sarah Kent

London’s elite posing dressed up to the nines

Zineb Sedira: Dreams Have No Titles, Whitechapel Gallery review - a disorientating mix of fact and fiction

Sarah Kent

An exhibition that begs the question 'What and where is home?'

Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind, Tate Modern review - a fitting celebration of the early years

Sarah Kent

Acknowledgement as a major avant garde artist comes at 90

Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art, Barbican review - the fabric of dissent

Florence Hallett

An ambitious exploration of a neglected medium

When Forms Come Alive, Hayward Gallery review - how to reduce good art to family fun

Sarah Kent

Seriously good sculptures presented as little more than playthings or jokes

Entangled Pasts 1768-now, Royal Academy review - an institution exploring its racist past

Sarah Kent

After a long, slow journey from invisibility to agency, black people finally get a look in

Barbara Kruger, Serpentine Gallery review - clever, funny and chilling installations

Sarah Kent

Exploring the lies, deceptions and hyperbole used to cajole, bully and manipulate us

Richard Dorment: Warhol After Warhol review - beyond criticism

Alice Brewer

A venerable art critic reflects on the darkest hearts of our aesthetic market

Dineo Seshee Raisibe Bopape: (ka) pheko ye / the dream to come, Kiasma, Helsinki review - psychic archaeology

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

The South African artist evokes the Finnish landscape in a multisensory installation

Paul Cocksedge: Coalescence, Old Royal Naval College review - all that glitters

Alastair Davey

An installation explores the origins of a Baroque masterpiece

Issy Wood, Study for No, Lafayette Anticipations, Paris review - too close for comfort?

Mark Kidel

One of Britain's most captivating young artists makes a big splash in Paris

Mark Rothko, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris review - a show well worth the trip across the Channel

Mark Kidel

Abstraction with emotion and soul in a landmark retrospective

Women in Revolt!, Tate Britain review - a super important if overwhelming show

Sarah Kent

Women protesting with all their might in both art and life

A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography, Tate Modern review - pulling out the stops to address issues around cultural identity

Sarah Kent

Thirty-six African artists reconnect with their heritage in dramatic and moving images

El Anatsui: Behind the Red Moon, Tate Modern review - glorious creations

Sarah Kent

As this Turbine Hall installation shows, the Ghanaian artist can cope with vast scale

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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