tue 26/05/2020

Visual Arts Features

Opinion: Paintings with nothing to lose but their frames

Marina Vaizey

The dazzling, controversial, fascinating exhibition In the Age of Giorgione at the Royal Academy inadvertently provides a striking example of an unavoidable and perhaps insoluble problem common to almost all exhibitions of painting – especially those with a high proportion of loans – in public museums and galleries.

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100 Works of Art That Will Define Our Age

Kelly Grovier

The back cover of my book makes a big claim. “This book dares”, it says, “to predict the 100 most significant works of art made since the 1990s.” Although the tagline is an entirely accurate description of what I attempt to accomplish in my study of contemporary art, the phrase “dares to predict” has always made me a little anxious. It seems to suggest that the act of forecasting or foreseeing is deliberately provocative, defiant, or even risky.

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Keep Calm and Knuckle Under

Hugh Pearman

“He lives in Woolwich and Warsaw”. From which author note you might conclude that Owen Hatherley, author of The Ministry of Nostalgia, is not your ordinary kind of UK critic, comfortably ensconced (usually) in North or fashionable East London. Fashion has always passed Woolwich, if not Warsaw, by, though Hatherley himself is quietly stylish, somewhat in the manner of his hero Jarvis Cocker. Can one extrapolate a whiff of left-puritanism from this alliterative choice of abode?

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When Bowie and Boyd hoaxed the art world

Jasper Rees

In 1994 the art magazine Modern Painters invited fresh blood onto its editorial board. The new intake included a novelist, William Boyd, and a rock star, David Bowie. "That’s how I got to know him," says Boyd. "We’d sit at the table with all these art critics and art experts feeling like new boys slightly having to prove ourselves. He interviewed Balthus, he interviewed Tracey Emin.

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Søren Dahlgaard’s Dough Portraits

theartsdesk

Can a portrait really be a portrait if we can’t see a person’s face? And what if the reason we can’t see their face is that it is covered with a lump of dough? Is it a joke? And if it is a joke, is it on us or them? Or perhaps it is a joke about art itself: doughy masks aside, Dahlgaard’s portraits are in every other way conventional, and dough is not so dissimilar to clay, a venerable material in the history of art.

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Best of 2015: Art

theartsdesk

From weaselly shyster to spineless drip, the biographies of Goya’s subjects are often superfluous: exactly what he thought of each of his subjects is jaw-droppingly evident in each and every portrait he painted. Quite how Goya got away with it is a question that will continue to exercise his admirers indefinitely, but it is testament to his laser-like insight that he flattered his subjects enough that they either forgave or didn’t notice his damning condemnations in paint.

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Yuletide Scenes: Giotto's Nativity

Jasper Rees

Some time in the late 1280s, the artist Cimabue was wandering in the Tuscan countryside when he chanced upon a boy shepherd.

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Yuletide Scenes: Ben Nicholson's Christmas Night, 1930

Florence Hallett

On this dark, silent night as the world holds its breath in anticipation, everything is still but for the occasional whisper of a breeze ruffling the curtains. It is so quiet that a deer, that most nervous of creatures, has tiptoed all the way up to the window, gazing beyond us to a point further inside the room.

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Yuletide Scenes: David Jones' Nativity with Shepherds and Beasts Rejoicing

Marina Vaizey

David Jones’ black and white drypoint – a drawing made by incising lines on a copper plate with a diamond-tipped needle and then printing from the plate – is a view of the nativity which is fresh, full of wonder and a highly intelligent naïveté. It shows all the sophistication of an artist who has looked at the art of the past but is also fully aware of modernism’s confusions of perspective, able to deploy them even when depicting recognisable scenes.

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Yuletide Scenes: Piero della Francesca's Nativity

Sarah Kent

At first sight Piero della Francesca’s The Nativity appears to be a simple picture, especially when compared with more flamboyant depictions of the scene by artists such as Gentile de Fabriano, Botticelli and Rubens. Like a director staging a play on a limited budget, Piero has been sparing with his cast, props and scenery.

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