tue 25/06/2019

Visual Arts Features

In the Beginning Was the Word: The King James Bible 400th

theartsdesk

The King James Bible, that great monument in the biography of the English language, is 400 years old this year. To use its own wording, it is as old as the hills, as old as Methuselah. Contemporaneous with Shakespeare, it has given us as many of the richly colourful phrases by which we still live: a nest of vipers, a thorn in the flesh, a fly in the ointment, a lamb to the slaughter, the skin of your teeth, in the twinkling of an eye. And so on and on.

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theartsdesk in New York: Spruce Flats by Gehry

Markie Robson-Scott Affordable housing by Gehry: 'The best skyscrapers wear skins that express that fact with the strength and subtlety of great art'

“Do you realise we’re talking about a rental apartment building? It’s unheard of,” says a friend. We’re standing on a street corner discussing the new Frank Gehry building in lower Manhattan. Most new apartment buildings here are concrete and glass, flat and dull, every apartment the same white box, not worth a conversation (I’ve lived in two). Gehry’s building is different. New-York-by-Gehry, as it’s grandiosely monikered, is at 8 Spruce Street near the Brooklyn Bridge, bordering the...

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Why Artists Are Doing It In The Road: Special Report

facebike The Goldhawk Road crew at work late last night preparing the Goldhawk Road for road art

They are hardly the ideal conditions in which to create. Danger is a constant menace, and it comes in multiple guises. Industrial injury is the main threat, as is the risk of arrest. Other hazards include deafness, breathing polluted air and the looming shadow of public discontent. The tools and materials used in this form of installation - power drill, tarmac and steamroller - are expensive. And the work cannot be sold. But despite these powerful deterrents, there are clandestine...

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theartsdesk in Dublin: St Patrick's Day Festival 2011

alexandra Coghlan 'Brilliant', an optimistic parable on Irish national spirit: Dublin's St Patick's Day Parade 2011

“What’s the story?” It’s a question you’ll hear again and again in the streets and pubs of Dublin. You can tell a lot about a nation from their greeting; the traditional salutation of northern China, born of decades of famine and physical hardship, translates to “Have you eaten?”, and a psychologist could extrapolate much from our English fondness for impersonal, weather-related pleasantries. So it’s surely no coincidence then that Ireland, and Dublin in particular, should favour this...

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theartsdesk in Moscow: Isaac Levitan at the Tretyakov Gallery

Tom Birchenough

The Tretyakov Gallery is currently housing a landmark exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of Isaac Levitan. His glorious “mood landscapes” catch the understated beauty of provincial Russia, with an often gloomy philosophical perspective behind them, as he considers man’s insignificant place in time and history. But the show reveals lesser-known sides to his work too, and reminds us again that his close friendship with Chekhov was a remarkable artistic-literary alliance.

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theartsdesk in New York 1: Guitar Month

Markie Robson-Scott

February is guitar month in New York City. Synchronicity rules at those two giants, the MoMA and the Met. At MoMA, Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 shows his austere guitar paintings, collages and drawings - often using newspaper, wallpaper and sand - as well as constructions of guitars made of cardboard and one of sheet metal and wire. “What is it? Painting or sculpture?” asked snooty visitors to his Paris studio. “It’s nothing, it’s el guitare,” Picasso, who didn’t play an...

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theartsdesk in Florence: Was This the Greatest Renaissance Show Ever Held?

Jasper Rees

Last weekend something happened that, to me at least, would once have been unimaginable: I slipped into a museum in Florence just after 10 o’clock on a Saturday night. Familiar paintings from the city’s great store lined the walls. Normally they’d have been tucked up for the night by five in the afternoon, and not seen again till Tuesday morning.

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theartsdesk in Cairo: Old Bones, New Coffins

Josh Spero

The Egyptian Government is investing in the arts, which would normally be a cause for celebration. However, in building the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation, it feels like the country’s cultural budget is being spent on another new display case for its past rather than on encouraging a contemporary arts scene. The NMEC, which was first mooted in 1982 (the year after Sadat was assassinated, if that signifies anything today), will open this year in south-east Cairo, after seven years...

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Year Out/Year In: Art's Giants in Close-Up

Fisun Güner

Last year gave us three giants of Post-Impressionism. The Royal Academy promised to unveil the real Van Gogh by showing us the man of letters; Tate Modern delivered a sumptuous survey of Gauguin; and a significantly smaller but nonetheless intelligent and illuminating display at the Courtauld Gallery homed in on just one series of paintings in Cézanne’s oeuvre - the ambitious, masterly and compositionally complex The Card Players.

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theartsdesk in Brussels: The EU Takes On Google

ismene Brown

This year the Eurozone is going to be the big political subject; fragmentation the looming concern. Culturally too, one would think that Europe, with 23 official languages, and another 60 minority languages spoken, is too much of a warren to be able to find any possible unanimity. But two ambitious projects are afoot in Brussels: to enable the translating of major literature across languages, and to join up all the museums, galleries and centres of knowledge in one great cultural cornucopia...

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