thu 18/07/2019

Visual Arts Features

Best of 2014: Art

Fisun Güner

We commemorated the centenary of the start of the First World War and we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The year also marked a 70th anniversary for the D-Day landings. So it was oddly fitting that the London art calendar was most notable for the invasion of heavyweight Germans; namely, four postwar artists whose sense of the weight of German history is writ large in their work.

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Sci-Fi Week: Through the eyes of JG Ballard

Fisun Güner

A sci-fi special would be incomplete without the profoundly influential figure of JG Ballard, a writer who, when he began his career in the late Fifties, fully subscribed to the notion that  “sci-fi is the literature of the 20th century.” Unlike the “Hampstead novel,” he once said, “the sci-fi novel plays back the century to itself.”

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Gallery: Honoré Daumier and Paula Rego - a conversation across time

Fisun Güner

Baudelaire called him a “pictorial Balzac” and said he was the most important man “in the whole of modern art”, while Degas was only a little less effusive, claiming him as one of the three greatest draughtsman of the 19th century, alongside Ingres and Delacroix.

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theartsdesk in Bamberg: Top Town, Top Orchestra

David Nice

As a town of 70,000 or so people, Bamberg boxes dazzlingly above its weight in at least two spheres. The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, risen to giddy heights under its chief conductor of the last 14 years Jonathan Nott, is decisively among Germany’s top five, and acknowledged as such in its substantial state funding (to the enviable tune of 80 percent, a figure known elsewhere, I believe, only in Norway). And a galaxy of great buildings has won the place UNESCO World Heritage status.

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theartsdesk in Cadaqués: Inside Dalí

Markie Robson-Scott

In 1959, the walk to Salvador Dalí’s house in Portlligat seemed very long. I was on holiday with my parents in Cadaqués, staying in our friends’ house high on a hillside with a view of the blue bay and the white houses surrounding it. Not that I cared about views. What I wanted to do was swim, poke sea urchins, watch the fishermen unload their nets, and have a Coke at the Meliton bar.

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Time, Weather, Place: Folkestone Triennial 2014

Fisun Güner

The crusty old Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay died in 2006, but there’s a new art work by him at this year’s Folkestone Triennial. You won’t be able to see it with the naked eye, but you can through a pair of binoculars. If you peer through a viewing tower from Folkestone’s disused Harbour Pier you’ll see one of Finlay’s enigmatic phrases come into focus: “WEATHER IS A THIRD TO PLACE AND TIME”.

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What Lies Beneath: The Secret Life of Paintings

Florence Hallett

The doctoring of political images became something of a tradition in the last century, with Stalin, Hitler and Mao all airbrushing their enemies from photographs. The latest infrared technology has revealed that something similar may have happened during the English Civil War, with a portrait of Oliver Cromwell apparently having been painted over with an image of the Parliamentarian Sir Arthur Hesilrige, who fell out with Cromwell when he became Lord Protector in 1653. 

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First Person: Curating Shelagh Wakely

Sarah Kent

I’ve curated nearly 70 exhibitions in my time. The most challenging was Elizabeth Frink’s retrospective at the Royal Academy. Weighing in at several tons, the large bronzes are virtually impossible to shift, so I had no room for manoeuvre. To get the installation right, I placed cardboard miniatures inside a model of the main galleries and prayed they would look good full scale. 

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Extracts: John Tusa - Pain in the Arts

ismene Brown

In the midst of ferment as the arts world faces fast-shrinking public subsidy, Sir John Tusa, former managing director of the BBC World Service and the Barbican Arts Centre, publishes this week a brisk new book that urges arts and politicians to reject the emotive clichés and lazy token battles and focus on what matters. In Pain in the Arts, Tusa urges that both sides take personal responsibility for an essential part of human life.

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Marina Abramović: 512 Hours, Serpentine Gallery

Fisun Güner

I’ll admit, there's a scene that made me well up during the excellent Marina Abramović biopic The Artist is Present. If you've seen it you’ll know the scene I mean – it’s where Ulay, Abramović’s former partner, in art and in life, takes the seat opposite her on the last day of her MoMA marathon performance. And the tears come, hers and his and then ours, and she takes his hands, and then more tears. Oh god.

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