mon 05/12/2022

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Tate Modern review - a forest of huge and imposing presences

Sarah Kent

First off, I must confess that fibre or textile art makes me queasy. I don’t know why, but all that threading, knotting, twisting, coiling and winding gives me the creeps. So it’s all the more extraordinary that I was blown away by Magdalena Abakanowicz’s huge woven sculptures.

Things, Musée du Louvre, Paris review - the still life brought alive

Mark Kidel

Only a Eurostar day-trip away, at least from London, the Louvre is hosting an exceptional exhibition, which makes the journey to Paris well worthwhile. Things – A History of Still Life (Les choses – une histoire de la nature morte) is one of those massive shows that explores a complex theme in a thoroughly original and adventurous way.

Donna Fleming: Apocalypse, The Pie Factory,...

Paul Rider

Donna Fleming’s exhibition at the Pie Factory Gallery in Margate is called Apocalypse, which is confusing because it has nothing to do with the end...

Making Modernism, Royal Academy review - a...

Sarah Kent

The Royal Academy’s Making Modernism is a welcome introduction to seven women painters working in Germany at the beginning of the last century. It...

William Kentridge, Royal Academy review - from...

Sarah Kent

South African artist William Kentridge appears on video in his studio, twice. On the right he sits scribbling, waiting for an idea to surface....

Hopper: An American Love Story review - a dry view of a much richer subject

Saskia Baron

The inscrutable American artist gets the cinema treatment in a conventional biography

Lucian Freud: New Perspectives, National Gallery review - a powerful punch in the gut

Sarah Kent

The complexity of human relationships laid bare in centenary show of the artist who always disturbs

Hallyu! The Korean Wave, V&A review - frenetic but fun

Sarah Kent

Learn how to succeed, South Korean style, right across the cultural board

Marina Abramović: Gates and Portals, Modern Art Oxford and Pitt Rivers Museum review - transcendence lite

Sarah Kent

The grandmother of performance art induces deep breathing and a slow heartbeat

Winslow Homer: Force of Nature, National Gallery review - dump the symbolism and enjoy the drama

Sarah Kent

Hot topics like slavery and colonialism given the ambiguous treatment

Carolee Schneeman: Body Politics, Barbican review - challenging, in-your-face and messy

Sarah Kent

By putting herself in the picture, especially nude, Schneeman upset almost everyone

Germany / The 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander, Centre Pompidou review - expansive and thought-provoking

Juliette Bretan

The vibrant world of 1920s Central Europe, in sharp focus

Gustav Metzger: Earth Minus Environment, Kestle Barton review - an illuminating glimpse of a visionary activist-artist

Mark Hudson

Ecological dirty-realism plus mass-media overload in an idyllic Cornish setting

Milton Avery: American Colourist, Royal Academy review - from backward-looking impressionist to forward looking-colourist

Sarah Kent

A slow reveal of the painter dubbed the American Matisse

Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War review - a lovingly crafted documentary portrait

Saskia Baron

In love and war: one of England's great watercolourists reappraised

Vivian Maier: Anthology, MK Gallery review - what an amazing eye!

Sarah Kent

The brilliance of an amateur photographer who was almost lost to the world

Venice Biennale 2022 review - The Milk of Dreams Part 2: The Arsenale

Mark Hudson

This wildly ambitious mega-exhibition unravels in spectacular style

In the Air, Wellcome Collection review - art in an emergency

Mark Sheerin

History, politics and poetry abound in a show offering inspiration and agitation

Whitstable Biennale review - a breath of fresh air

Sarah Kent

From philosophising to crab creatures, a festival programme themed around 'Afterwardness'

10 Questions for art historian and fiction writer Chloë Ashby

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

On sights, acts of seeing and book 'Wet paint', inspired by Manet’s 'A Bar at the Folies-Bergère'

Venice Biennale 2022 review - The Milk of Dreams Part 1: The Giardini

Mark Hudson

The biggest and most challenging exhibition you’ll be seeing in some time

Cornelia Parker, Tate Britain review – divine intelligence

Sarah Kent

The most interesting artist of our time

Walter Sickert, Tate Britain review - all the world's a stage

Sarah Kent

The artist as voyeur

Ming Smith: A Dream Deferred, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery review - snapping the Blues

Bill Knight

Previously unseen "overpainted photographs" take pride of place

Ali Cherri: If you prick us, do we not bleed?, National Gallery review - cabinets of curiosity

Sarah Kent

Can damage ever be life enhancing?

Pionnières: Artistes dans le Paris des années folles, Musée du Luxembourg, Paris review - thrilling and slightly flawed

Mark Kidel

Revealing survey of women artists in 1920s Paris

Surrealism Beyond Borders, Tate Modern review - a disappointing mish mash

Sarah Kent

Too many followers, too few originators

Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945-65, Barbican review - revelations galore

Sarah Kent

Angst-ridden art that defines an era

A Century of the Artist's Studio, Whitechapel Gallery review - a voyeur's delight

Sarah Kent

The desire to peek behind the scenes is satisfied, delightfully

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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