wed 29/11/2023

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

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

Mark Kidel

The vast and various spaces of Frank Gehry’s monumental Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris suit the needs of the thrilling Mark Rothko exhibition now inhabiting its labyrinthine multi-storey suite of galleries.

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

Sarah Kent

The soundtrack to Tate Britain’s seminal exhibition Women in Revolt! is a prolonged scream. On film, Gina Birch of the punk band The Raincoats gives vent to her pent-up anger and frustration by yelling at the top of her lungs for 3 minutes (main picture).

A World in Common: Contemporary African...

Sarah Kent

The introductory panel to Tate Modern's exhibition of photography, film and installation contains some stark facts that remind us of the history...

El Anatsui: Behind the Red Moon, Tate Modern...

Sarah Kent

The enormous volume of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall has overwhelmed many of those invited to exhibit there, but Ghanaian artist El Anatsui responded to...

RE/SISTERS: A Lens on Gender and Ecology,...

Sarah Kent

RE/SISTERS is a show about the brave women who’ve been fighting to protect our planet and the artists whose work – mainly in film and photography –...

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Time Machine, Hayward Gallery review - a Japanese photographer uses droll humour to ask big questions

Sarah Kent

Bringing the dead to life and looking at the world before and after humans

Turner Prize 2023, Towner Eastbourne review - four contestants strike a sombre mood

Sarah Kent

Art that reflects on social ills

Philip Guston, Tate Modern review - a compelling look at an artist who derided the KKK

Sarah Kent

How to appear daft while addressing the dark side

Sarah Lucas: Happy Gas, Tate Britain review - overcrowding muffles the voice of the wildest of the YBAs

Sarah Kent

Too many bunnies spoil the sculpture broth

Marina Abramović, Royal Academy review - young performers stand in for the absent artist

Sarah Kent

This pioneer of performance art is the first woman to show in the main galleries

Beatriz Milhazes: Maresias, Turner Contemporary review - the taste and sight of Brazil

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

A retrospective of the Brazilian artist's career transports us to Rio de Janeiro

Differently Various, The Curve, Barbican review - a step in a shared direction

Saskia Baron

Richly engaging exhibition by artists who have experienced brain injuries

Anselm Kiefer: Finnegans Wake, White Cube Bermondsey review - an awe-inspiring show

Mark Kidel

Germany's greatest living artist draws from Joyce

Jean Cooke: Ungardening, Garden Museum review - a cramped show of airy and spacious paintings

Sarah Kent

Adapting to difficult circumstances and painting against the odds

Extract: Bacon in Moscow by James Birch

James Birch

Art crosses the Iron Curtain in this complex memoir of suspicion, espionage and opportunity

Manchester International Festival exhibitions review - a new arts centre puts Manchester firmly on the cultural map

Sarah Kent

A host of giant inflatables, tricky balancing acts and a licence to print old master engravings - what's not to like?

Brian Clarke - A Great Light, Newport Street Gallery review - a British master proves his worth

Mark Kidel

Stunning stained glass and immensely inspiring collages

Carrie Mae Weems: Reflections for Now, Barbican review - going from strength to strength on an epic journey

Sarah Kent

Photographs and videos that take inequality in America to task

Dear Earth: Art and Hope in a Time of Crisis, Hayward Gallery review - hope is what we need, but inspiration is a rarity

Sarah Kent

Making good art about climate change proves difficult

Life is More Important than Art, Whitechapel Gallery review - themes of arrival, belonging and departure unite fascinating mixed show

Sarah Kent

The first show curated by the Whitechapel's new director Gilane Tawadros bodes well

Capturing the Moment, Tate Modern review - the glorious power of painting

Sarah Kent

From Picasso onwards, artists have responded to photography by making great paintings

Carey Young: Appearance, Modern Art Oxford review - in the eyes of the law

Mark Sheerin

Video installations explore the all-pervasive world of Kafka

Matter as Actor, Lisson Gallery review - living in a material world

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

A group show addresses the politics of stuff

Moon Is the Oldest TV review - a fitting tribute to a visionary modern artist

Helen Hawkins

Authoritative documentary that defines the genius of Nam June Paik

Sarah Sze: Metronome, Artangel at Peckham Rye station review - an installation of visual complexity and physical simplicity

Sarah Kent

The detritus that accumulates in our over-stimulated brains

Isaac Julien: What Freedom is to Me, Tate Britain review - a journey from making documentaries to making art

Sarah Kent

A film-maker goes from speaking to the street to addressing the museum

Hilma af Klint & Piet Mondrian: Forms of Life, Tate Modern review - the hidden depths of abstract art revealed

Sarah Kent

A world famous modernist and a little known painter, two Titans of abstract art juxtaposed

Grenfell by Steve McQueen, Serpentine Gallery review - a stirring memorial for the tower block inferno

Mark Kidel

Anger and compassion combine to make for an unforgettable experience

Earth Spells: Witches of the Anthropocene, RAMM, Exeter review - this local exhibition deserves a national audience

Mark Sheerin

Bringing the dark arts into the light

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

Album: Peter Gabriel - I/O

Some 28 years in gestation, Peter Gabriel’s eighth studio album (minus soundtracks) of wholly original songs – his first...

A Christmas Carol, The Old Vic review - older, wiser, and ye...

Familiarity has bred something quite fantastic with the Old Vic Christmas Carol, which is back for a seventh season and merits ringing...

Boat Story, BBC One review - once upon a time in Yorkshire

It was as long ago as January last year that the prolific Williams brothers,...

Dariescu, BBC Philharmonic, Storgårds, Bridgewater Hall, Man...

John Storgårds found himself literally facing both ways for the third item on the BBC Philharmonic’s programme on Saturday: towards the audience,...

Mark Rothko, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris review - a show...

The vast and various spaces of Frank Gehry’s monumental Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris suit the needs of the thrilling Mark Rothko exhibition...

Blu-ray: King and Country

British anti-war films inspired by “the war that” failed “to end all wars” include Oh! What a Lovely War, The Return of the Soldier...

The Dante Project, Royal Ballet review - brave but flawed ta...

Singular in its variousness, this is a three-act ballet that need some unpicking. No wonder those hooked on first acquaintance in 2021, like t...

CMAT, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow review - an evening of ex...

There was a moment towards the end of this exuberant evening when Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson compared the show to a pantomime. This was an...

MacMillan's Christmas Oratorio, Lois, Williams, RSNO, M...

It is not every day that a new choral work by a living composer can confidently be labelled a masterpiece. Yet this is what we have here. James...