sat 04/12/2021

Visual Arts Features

theartsdesk in Chicago: Radical Invention in the Windy/Second City

Veronica Lee A fresh look at Matisse: 'Bathers by a River', 1916-17

On my previous trip to the Second City in 2009, the much-awaited Art Institute of Chicago extension wasn’t quite ready for visitors, but is now about to celebrate its first birthday, and it’s a treat. The Modern Wing adds 35 per cent more space to the Institute, bringing it up to a nice round one million square feet and making it America’s second biggest art museum after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It was designed by Renzo Piano, whose new wing (another glass-and-steel box) will...

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theartsdesk in Glasgow: Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art

Fisun Güner Douglas Gordon: a faster 24 Hour Psycho than ever before

During my two-day whistlestop tour of various galleries and arts venues across Glasgow, I’m afraid I didn’t spot one white bike. There are, apparently, 50 of them that punters are free to use for the two-week duration of the city’s second biennial International Festival of Visual Art. It’s a scheme that pays homage to the original Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike Plan) by radical Sixties Dutch movement Provos. Set up as a statement against consumerism, pollution and congestion,...

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theartsdesk in Newcastle: The AV Festival

Alice Vincent

At seven o'clock on a Friday night, with the first spring twilight of the year as a backdrop, Newcastle’s Civic Centre reverberated to a new composition for its Carillon bells. Mingling eerily with birdsong, it marked a rather different start to the weekend from the hoards of hen nights getting ready for a night on the Toon. This was the opening night of AV, the biennial international festival of electronic arts.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Sarnath Banerjee

ASH Smyth Sarnath Banerjee: 'Everybody has his own aesthetics; but mine are a bit… wonky.'

When the subversive graphic artist Sarnath Banerjee won a MacArthur grant he opted "to research the sexual landscape of contemporary Indian cities", embroiling himself in the aphrodisiac market of old Delhi and introducing the English reading public to the great Hindi word swarnadosh (erm, "nocturnal emissions"). Banerjee (b. 1972) is generally credited with having introduced the graphic novel to India. Incorrectly, as it happens; but with Corridor (2004) and The Barn...

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theartsdesk in Baku: Festival puts 'Azerbai-where?' on the map

Tom Birchenough

It’s a rare national culture festival that presupposes its audience will have no knowledge whatsoever of the culture concerned - or even be able to locate the country itself on a map. But that, we must assume from the “Azerbai-where?” promotional bus ads, was the starting point last November for organisers of the BUTA Festival of Azerbaijan Art, a series of very well-connected art and music events in London going on this month.

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Is it too late to save the Cultural Olympiad?

Simon Tait

We’d almost blown the so-called Cultural Olympiad, and if the appointment of Ruth Mackenzie as artistic director had come a moment later than the turn of this year, we would have done. Not my opinion: this from Tony Hall of the Royal Opera House, and he chairs the board that appointed her. More than that, on Friday Hall was given a cross-bench seat in the House of Lords to thump the tub for the arts in 2012, and we’ll take notice then. Won’t we?

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So farewell to the Foundry

joe Muggs Raging, but not always pretty, creativity is everywhere in The Foundry

My abiding memory of The Foundry is being held aloft by my throat by the landlord, Falklands veteran and notorious band manager Alan "Gimpo" Goodrick, as he accused me of stealing a Shirley Bassey album. I had been DJing for a book reading by Mark "Zodiac Mindwarp" Manning, and there was a lot of absinthe being drunk thanks to some fellow from The Idler. I knew at that point I shouldn't have begun the evening by playing the line "there may be trouble ahead" from Bassey's version of "...

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Interview: Jonathan Meades, Auteur-at-Large

Adam Sweeting

In his forbidding dark suit and heavy-framed sunglasses, declaiming his artfully wrought texts to camera with the ominous certainty of a hanging judge, Jonathan Meades is one of TV’s most unmistakable presences. While it may be lamentable that we don’t see him more often, it’s miraculous, in the current climate, that we see him at all.

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theartsdesk in Fort Lauderdale: Norman Rockwell, the American Friend

Graham Fuller

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) may be the great idealiser of American smalltown life, but many of his paintings took their cues from Dickens, and they thus have an English tang. None more so than Merrie Christmas (pictured below), which Rockwell painted for the cover of 7 December 1929 edition of the Saturday Evening Post: Tony Weller, the philosophising coachman father of Mr Pickwick’s manservant Sam, is shown cracking his whip with one hand and doffing his holly-...

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Art 2010: Looking Ahead

Mark Hudson Van Gogh's 'Hospital at Saint Rémy', 1889: 'the first major Van Gogh exhibition in London for 40 years could break all attendance records'

2010 begins with a worldbeating blockbuster capable of breaking all attendance records – and it ends with another. It’s more than 40 years since Britain saw a major exhibition of the work of Vincent van Gogh; 40 years in which the tormented Dutch genius has gone from being merely an extremely famous and influential painter to, by common consent, the world’s favourite artist, the man who sacrificed himself for his art, whose light-filled canvases tell us most about what we think art should be –...

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