wed 23/05/2018

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Big Sky, Big Dreams, Big Art: Made in the USA, BBC Four review - unexpected facts aplenty

Marina Vaizey

“Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light” was a vision of the American flag, that star-spangled banner, riding proud from Francis Scott Key’s patriotic poem of 1814 based on an episode in the War of 1812.

Highlights from Photo London 2018 - something old, something new

Bill Knight

Photo London seems much better this year, mainly because I am at last able to find my way around the labyrinthine Somerset House without getting lost in photography. Things got off to a good start when I bumped into Annie Leibovitz in reception. Actually "bumped into" isn’t quite the right expression – she and her entourage went through like an express train.

The New Royal Academy and Tacita Dean, Landscape...

Sarah Kent

This weekend the Royal Academy (R.A) celebrates its 250th anniversary with the opening of 6 Burlington Gardens (main picture), duly refurbished for...

David Shrigley/Brett Goodroad, Brighton Festival...

Mark Sheerin

In his 1991 novel Mao II, Don DeLillo called the literary medium “a democratic shout”. His oft-quoted claim is that any man or woman on the street...

The Best Exhibitions in London

Theartsdesk

All Too Human, Tate Britain ★★★★ Bacon and Freud dominate but don't overwhelm in a fleshy century of painting. Until 27 AugAnother Kind of Life,...

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Enter our competition to win a spectacular weekend at England's finest arts festival

Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece, British Museum review - magnificence of form across the millennia

Marina Vaizey

A game-changing exhibition illuminates the great sculptor and his links to antiquity

Shape of Light, Tate Modern review - a wasted opportunity

Sarah Kent

The relationship between art and photography reduced to commonplaces

10 Questions for Artist David Shrigley

Thomas H Green

The provocative artist talks festivals, moshpits, Google and much more

Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank review - the artist puts himself in the frame

Sarah Kent

The reluctant subject who reveals his soul

Taryn Simon: An Occupation of Loss, Islington Green review - divine lamentation

Sarah Kent

A journey to the underworld in song

Monet and Architecture, National Gallery review - a revelation in paint

Marina Vaizey

The king of the blockbuster seen in a new light

Helaine Blumenfeld: Britain’s most successful sculptor you’ve never heard of

Rupert Edwards

The director of a new Sky Arts documentary profile of the sculptor explores her work

10 Questions for Artist Brett Goodroad

Thomas H Green

The rising Califiornian painter discusses art, literature and truckin'

Michael Rakowitz: The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, Fourth Plinth review - London's new guardian

Katherine Waters

Mythical Assyrian guardian deity occupies square commemorating battle

America's Cool Modernism, Ashmolean Museum review - faces of the new city

Marina Vaizey

Landmark show offers pioneering images of a nation searching for identity

Picasso 1932: Love Fame Tragedy, Tate Modern review - a diary in paint?

Florence Hallett

Biography prevails in a compelling account of the artist's year of wonders

Joan Jonas, Tate Modern review - work as elusive as it is beautiful

Sarah Kent

The pioneer of performance art who disguises her presence

'There's a poetry in painting that gives endless possibilities'

Alexandra Baraitser

Painter Alexandra Baraitser on curating her sixth exhibition, 'Silent Painting'

Tacita Dean: Portrait, National Portrait Gallery / Still Life, National Gallery review - film as a fine art

Sarah Kent

Films whose beauty is more akin to painting than to cinema

Victorian Giants, National Portrait Gallery review - pioneers of photography

Marina Vaizey

Artistic searches, technical advances fuel the discoveries of the Victorian age

Murillo: The Self-Portraits, National Gallery review - edged with darkness

Katherine Waters

Exquisite exhibition prompted by Murillo's two self-portraits considers what can survive time's wreckage

theartsdesk in Korea: national pride and candour

Peter Quantrill

Music and art without borders in a country cut in half

All Too Human, Tate Britain review - life in the raw

Florence Hallett

Bacon and Freud dominate but don't overwhelm in a fleshy century of painting

Another Kind of Life, Barbican review - intense encounters with marginal lives

Sarah Kent

Life on the margins brought centre stage in international photography anthology

Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World, Whitechapel Gallery review - handsome installations

Sarah Kent

The artist as explorer manqué

Emil Nolde: Colour Is Life, National Gallery of Ireland review - boats, dancers, flowers

Katherine Waters

Comprehensive overview of neglected German Expressionist with a troubling past

Andreas Gursky, Hayward Gallery review - staggering scale, personal perspective

Marina Vaizey

Space and light at the refurbished Hayward: huge views, artful manipulation from the German photographer

Charles I: King and Collector, Royal Academy review - a well executed display of taste

Marina Vaizey

Collection of the king's Old Masters is sumptuously brought back together

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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