sun 22/05/2022

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

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

Sarah Kent

Who was Walter Sickert and what made him tick? The best way to address the question is to make a beeline for the final room of his Tate Britain retrospective. It’s hung with an impressive array of his last and most colourful paintings.

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

Bill Knight

Ming Smith is a Black female photographer. When she first dropped off her portfolio at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1978 the receptionist assumed she was a courier. When MoMA offered to buy her work she declined at first because the fee didn’t cover her bills. Luckily for us, she relented.

Ali Cherri: If you prick us, do we not bleed?,...

Sarah Kent

I’m a sucker for traditional vitrines and the procession of old style display cases installed by Ali Cherri in the Renaissance galleries of the...

Pionnières: Artistes dans le Paris des années...

Mark Kidel

The hidden history of women artists continues to generate some ground-breaking exhibitions that contribute to a radical re-assessment of art and...

Surrealism Beyond Borders, Tate Modern review - a...

Sarah Kent

The night after visiting Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders I dreamt that a swarm of wasps had taken refuge inside my skull and I feared it...

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

Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child, Hayward Gallery review - the wife, the mistress, the daughter and the art that came out of it

Sarah Kent

Reclaiming the past through old clothes and other memorabilia

America in Crisis, Saatchi Gallery review - a country in jeopardy

Sarah Kent

Political upheaval in America, 1969 and 2021

Francis Bacon: Man and Beast, Royal Academy review – a life lived in extremis

Sarah Kent

From raw emotion to elegant displays of self loathing

Paula Rego: The Forgotten, Victoria Miro review - relentless focus

Jack Barron

A selection of later work is more than a coda to Tate's recent retrospective

Best of 2021: Visual Arts


Our highlights of the year just gone

Anselm Kiefer Pour Paul Celan, Grand Palais Éphémère, Paris review - an installation of rare profundity

Mark Kidel

Anselm Kiefer's spectacular homage to the poet Paul Celan

Kehinde Wiley, National Gallery review - more than meets the eye

Sarah Kent

From Soho to the snowbound emptiness of Norway in winter

The Courtauld Gallery - the old place, just better

Florence Hallett

After a three-year redevelopment, one of the UK's finest galleries is better than ever

Lubaina Himid, Tate Modern review – more explication please

Sarah Kent

A carnival of characters looking forwards as well as backwards

The Danish Collector: Delacroix to Gauguin review - fabulous art, not sure about the framing

Jenny Gilbert

Exhibition on Screen offers a catch-up for those who missed the RA show

Paris Photo 2021 review - a moveable feast

Bill Knight

Paris Photo returns, in a new temporary home

'A nun destroyed my tent': artist Kate Daudy talks about NFTs, refugees, and having her work thrown out with the trash

Jessica Baldwin

The artist's first 'Non-Fungible Token' goes live as part of a new online exhibition

Waste Age, Design Museum review - too little too lame

Sarah Kent

How to create a false sense of security

'Of course art doesn't change the world': Situationist artist Jacqueline de Jong on violence, eroticism and the importance of humour

Mark Sheerin

The Dutch veteran's first UK retrospective has opened at MOSTYN in Wales

Documenting the unimaginable: photographer Sebastião Salgado talks about climate change, dodging caimans and changing perspectives

Rachel Halliburton

How does Western behaviour risk turning the Amazonian paradise into a hell?

Yoko Ono, Mend Piece, Whitechapel Gallery review – funny and sad in equal measure

Sarah Kent

A sign of the times in broken crockery

Theaster Gates - A Clay Sermon, Whitechapel Gallery review - mud, mud, glorious mud

Sarah Kent

Ceramics as a religion and a way of life

Isamu Noguchi, Barbican review – the most elegant exhibition in town

Sarah Kent

A restless spirit who infiltrated many of our lives

Gerhard Richter: Drawings, Hayward Gallery review - exquisite ruminations

Sarah Kent

Subtle traces of the artist’s hand

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

Sarah Kent

Anything goes, from paint on canvas to toothpaste and hair gel under plexiglass

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

Florence Hallett

A fresh look at the American painter's reimagining of woodcut

The Lost Leonardo review - an incredible tale as gripping as any thriller

Sarah Kent

The machinations of the art market laid bare

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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