tue 21/05/2019

Visual Arts Features

theartsdesk in Sydney: Upside Down Under

Christopher Beanland

Sydney has a nervous tic. People think Australians are brash and bolshy but that's not true. There's a deep sense of ingrained anxiety here. That anxiety comes from being at the edge of the world, a long way from Europe and in an unfamiliar and unrelenting land. It has been expressed through the art of Australia for 200 years. Today the country and its biggest city are both more confident, so the anxiety expresses itself in subtler ways.

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Art: Top 10 exhibitions of 2013

Fisun Güner

Not an exhaustive list, but, in no particular order, these are the shows I'm still left thinking about as the year draws to a close. The best have opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about an artist. A few are still on. Try not to miss. And do suggest your own favourites in the comments below. As you'll see, I've also nominated one "Disappointment of the year" and one "Most ill-conceived show of the year". Don't hesitate to suggest your own in these catagories too.

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Yuletide Scenes 7: Madonna and Child Enthroned

Sarah Kent

What better way to celebrate Christmas than by contemplating this sublime altarpiece by the celebrated Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini? It hangs above a sidechapel in the church of San Zaccaria in Venice offering blissful relief from the noise and bustle of the narrow streets around San Marco. 

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Yuletide Scenes 6: Journey of the Magi

Jasper Rees

It was the fate of Benozzo Gozzoli (c 1422-1497) to be a contemporary of the immortals. A merry journeyman dauber, his talents were overshadowed in his lifetime and are overlooked now. He had a good start in life, working for both Fra Angelico and Ghiberti, but his beautiful frescoes are to be found tucked away in hill towns, innocently crumbling in wayside Tuscan chapels, or locked in the basements of the great museums.

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Yuletide Scenes 5: Winter

Marina Vaizey

Russia is the largest country on earth, unimaginably vast. Its people naturally have a great attachment to their country – and its landscape – in spite of their turbulent history, and in the late 19th century painters portrayed with deep feeling their native environment, their feelings for the motherland perhaps intensified among the more sophisticated the more they had travelled and studied in Europe. 

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theartsdesk in New York: The Armory Show at 100

Markie Robson-Scott

Walk up Central Park West, past the Dakota building and all those plush-looking podiatrists’ offices with their gold plaques, and just before you get to the Museum of Natural History you’ll find the New-York Historical Society and Museum at 77th Street (it also houses a great research library, open to all).

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Yuletide Scenes 4: Nursery (Christmas Stockings)

Fisun Güner

Even by his own eerie-peculiar standards, this is a perturbingly odd painting by that gifted English eccentric Stanley Spencer. It’s the night before Christmas and Christmas stockings hang from each bed frame: in this case, long rubber boots and saggy-bottomed Long Johns. And before we even consider what the occupants of each bed are up to, look closely at the heads of some of those toy figures: their painted grimaces are the thing of children’s nightmares.  

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Yuletide Scenes 3: Winter Sea

Mark Hudson

There’s movement towards a walk after lunch, but by the time everyone’s hummed and hawed about where they might go, rubbed their bellies after one too many forcemeat balls and argued about who put the Guardian Quiz where, it’s already dark and there’s only you and one other still up for it. They cry off – a mercy – and you’re alone, heading out across the garden, along the path towards the headland.

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Yuletide Scenes 2: The Adoration of the Kings

Marina Vaizey

Jan Gossaert’s The Adoration of the Kings, painted in 1510-15, is a sumptuous, richly detailed and even, to us today, slightly hilarious painting. It’s the large central panel of a Flemish altarpiece which includes practically every motif of the subject possible in a heady mix of ingredients.

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Yuletide Scenes 1: A Scene on the Ice near a Town

Florence Hallett

The term “snow day” may have been coined with the most recent spate of cold winters in mind, encapsulating the modern-day, not to mention British, consequences of winter weather, but Hendrick Avercamp’s Seventeenth-century “snow day”, painted in around 1615, is a hearty reminder that nothing changes.

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