wed 03/06/2020

Visual Arts Features

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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Photography 2009: Favourite Books

sue Steward L R Gent Bacongo: 'Sapeurs spend fortunes on their outfits in poverty-riddled Congo'

Every day till 3 January theartsdesk will carry a survey of one of the arts we cover. We begin with Photography. Photography books are exploding on to the market like fireworks just as the book as a tangible object is becoming increasingly endangered. And with so many titles emerging from established and pop-up publishers, it’s a hard task to pin them down to the best of 2009 without some shocking omissions. So I’ll call them “Favourites” -...

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theartsdesk in the Emirates: A Cultural Arms Race

Terry Friel Water featured: I.M. Pei's Museum of Islamic Art

Rising spectacularly from the warm turquoise waters of Doha Bay, the building which is probably I.M. Pei’s final and perhaps his greatest work, the iconic Museum of Islamic Art, symbolises the cultural arms race among the Islamic Emirates strung out along the Gulf, on the flank of Big...

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theartsdesk in Rome: Building the Future, Slowly

william Ward

The rapturous reception for Zaha Hadid’s groundbreaking, breathtaking new confection in Rome, Il Museo dell’Arte del XXIesimo Secolo - the 21st-Century Art Museum (MAXXI for short) - has reopened for the umpteenth time one of Italy’s favourite cultural debates. Why the hell does it take so long to build anything decent in our capital city, especially when we have one of the finest traditions - if not the finest - in architecture, civil engineering and construction, of anywhere in...

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