tue 28/09/2021

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Mixing it Up, Hayward Gallery review - a glorious celebration of diversity

Sarah Kent

The 31 artists in Mixing it Up all live in this country, but a third of them were born elsewhere – in countries including Belgium, China, Columbia, Germany, Iraq, Zambia and Zimbabwe – and they’ve brought with them immeasurable cultural riches.

Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - adventures in print

Florence Hallett

When you stand in front of Helen Frankenthaler’s Freefall, 1993, in your mind you drop into its gorgeous, blue abyss. It is enveloping, vertiginous, endless and yet there’s none of the terror of falling into a void, only intense, velvety comfort as the bluest blue melts into emerald green.

The Lost Leonardo review - an incredible tale as...

Sarah Kent

It’s been described as “the most improbable story that has ever happened in the art market”, and The Lost Leonardo reveals every twist and turn of...

Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Tate Modern review - a...

Sarah Kent

Sophie Taeuber-Arp gave her work titles like Movement of Lines, yet there’s nothing dull about her drawings and paintings. In her hands, the simplest...

Paula Rego, Tate Britain review - the artist...

Dora Neill

It is conventional for artists to reflect their surroundings, experiences and inspirations, whether this be in a subliminal manner or overtly. But...

Karla Black, Fruitmarket, Edinburgh review - airy free-for-all

Mark Sheerin

A retrospective of the abstract sculptor highlights her idiosyncracies

Ben Nicholson: From the Studio, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester review - domestic bliss

Simon O'Hagan

Still life takes the foreground in a long-awaited survey of the painter's career

Afterness, Orford Ness review - a breath of fresh air, literally

Sarah Kent

Art on the island of secrets

Pre-Raphaelites: Drawings & Watercolours, Ashmolean Museum review - a rich array

Dora Neill

Some of Britain's most popular artists highlight the importance and beauty of drawing

Dark Days, Luminous Nights, Manchester Collective, The White Hotel, Salford review - a sense of Hades

Robert Beale

Musicians and artists find out where the bodies are buried

The Making of Rodin, Tate Modern review - surrealist tendencies

Florence Hallett

The sculptor is recast as a proto-modernist in a show focused on works in plaster

Matthew Barney: Redoubt, Hayward Gallery review - the wild west revisited

Sarah Kent

A fusion of classical and modern mythology

David Hockney / Michael Armitage, Royal Academy review - painting with an iPad vs brushes and paint

Sarah Kent

Scenes from France and Kenya - an old dog learns new digital tricks, glorious paintings on bark

Eileen Agar, Whitechapel Gallery review - a free spirit to the end

Sarah Kent

An important female surrealist gets her first retrospective

Turner's Modern World, Tate Britain review - the universal artist

Florence Hallett

The great painter resists the confines of his own era, despite Tate's best efforts

Points of Departure, Brighton Festival 2021 review - Ray Lee's harbour-based sound art impresses

Thomas H Green

At Shoreham's working port, something strangely wonderful is happening

Rachel Whiteread: Internal Objects, Gagosian Gallery review - apocalyptic sheds

Markie Robson-Scott

A triumphant change of direction from the queen of casting

This is a Robbery: The World's Biggest Art Heist, Netflix - the last word (for now)

Florence Hallett

Three decades on and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum mystery is still hot

Prix Pictet: Confinement review - a year in photographs

Florence Hallett

Prize-winning photographers respond to the pandemic

Pioneering Women, Oxford Ceramics Gallery online review - domestic pleasures

Marina Vaizey

A survey of female potters explores ancient ubiquity and the allure of pure form

Best of 2020: Visual Arts


Our critics reflect on their favourite exhibitions of 2020

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Tate Britain review - enigmatic figures full of life

Sarah Kent

When is a painting not a portrait?

Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch, Royal Academy review - juxtapositions that confuse rather than clarify

Sarah Kent

Similar themes, different sensibilities

Zanele Muholi, Tate Modern review - photography as protest

Sarah Kent

Pictures so confrontational they knock you sideways

Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer, Barbican Art Gallery review - mould-breaker, ground-shaker

Jenny Gilbert

A crash course in the life and times of an iconoclast and muse

Sin, National Gallery review - great subject, modest show

Sarah Kent

A small gathering can't do justice to this fabulous topic

Bruce Nauman, Tate Modern review - the human condition writ large in neon

Sarah Kent

How to make great art out of almost nothing

Artemisia, National Gallery review - worth the wait

Florence Hallett

A glorious celebration of one of the great baroque painters

Hold Still, National Portrait Gallery review - snapshots from lockdown

Marina Vaizey

An online exhibition offers a glimpse of life in Britain now

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

Download British Museum gallery introductions to your device


From Egyptian mummies and ancient Greek sculpture to African art and Chinese porcelain, you can now download more than 60 gallery introductions directly to your phone, tablet or other device.

These short audio tracks (2–3 minutes), narrated by British Museum curators, can help you prepare for your visit, or can also be enjoyed at home.

Download now and skip the queue for our sell-out audio guides when you visit the Museum.

Available in English, Korean, Chinese, Spanish and Italian.

download from iTunes
download from Google Play

Sponsored by Korean Air


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

Shining City, Theatre Royal Stratford East review - occasion...

When Brendan Coyle, playing a modestly magnetic widower and sales rep called John in this revival of...

Kero Kero Bonito, Heaven review - euphoric bubblegum

Here comes the bride. True to Kero Kero Bonito’s unique musical and visual style, a chaotic but masterfully executed fusion of Japanese kawaii...

Iestyn Davies, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Kings Place review...

Music in London has faced down plagues, puritans, philistines and planners over the four centuries spanned by the Aurora Orchestra’s season-opener...

Oliver Sacks: His Own Life review - a complex portrait of a...

It’s well worth tracking down one of the September 29 special cinema screenings of Ric...

Album: Catherine Graindorge - Eldorado

Catherine Graindorge is a Belgian violinist and...

The Midsummer Marriage, LPO, Gardner, RFH review – Tippett’s...

British opera’s attempted answer to The Magic Flute, and its presentation as the opening gambit of Edward Gardner’s eminent position as...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentleman We...

Looking for answers to what qualifies an album for a makeover and its attendant return to record shop racks can cause heads to spin. Multiple...

The Last Five Years, Garrick Theatre review - bittersweet mu...

Much has happened in the five years since your reviewer braved the steep rake at The Other Palace and saw The Last Five Years...

Gagarine review - hazy cosmic jive in a Paris banlieue

This is the story of a boy and a building. Sixteen-year-old Youri (newcomer Alseni Bathily) lives, with his telescope, in Cité Gagarine, a vast...