sat 15/06/2024

Visual Arts Features

theartsdesk in Basel: More than Minimalism

David Nice

In a near-perfect, outward-looking Swiss city sharing borders with France and Germany, on a series of cloudless April days that felt more like balmy June than capricious April, anything seemed possible.

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Alan Davie, 1920-2014

Mark Hudson

Alan Davie, who died on Saturday aged 93, was one of the great 20th-century British artists, a life-long maverick whose explosive canvases cut a swathe through the provincial aridity of the postwar art scene.

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theartsdesk in Calais: Monument, Musée des Beaux-Arts

Mark Sheerin

Were it not for the bombs which rained down on Calais, its current Musée des Beaux-Arts would not exist. The 1966 building was part of a civic reconstruction programme, so it too is a war memorial of sorts. And it's now playing host to an exhibition dedicated to the idea of the monument which looks to commemorate the two world wars.

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theartsdesk in Bilbao: Yoko Ono at the Guggenheim Museum

Fisun Güner

Addressing a crowd of journalists gathered at the press launch of her major retrospective at the Guggenheim Bilbao, Yoko Ono begins by telling us how cynical she is. It’s quite a claim considering it’s just about the last thing you’d ever think to call her. Perhaps she’s finally tired of being dismissed as a naive idealist.

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Remembering Derek Jarman

Ron Peck

It was very odd, in January this year, to see that Super-8 camera of Derek’s in a glass case and a few open notebooks in his beautiful italic handwriting in some other glass cases in the same room. There were five or six small-scale projections from his films in other rooms, including The Last of England, and some art works, but, somehow, Derek wasn’t there at all for me.

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theartsdesk at the Marrakech Biennale: "Where Are We Now?"

Mark Sheerin

Whether fingerprint or labyrinth, the swirly logo for Marrakech Biennale 5 feels apt. The festival has left its mark upon the city. It questions Moroccan notions of identity. And, going by the tagline, “Where are we now?” it reflects the ease with which you can get lost in this rich and bewildering land.

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Listed: The Vikings - Life and Legend

Gareth Williams

The British Museum's exhibition The Vikings: Life and Legend promises to redefine the Viking age for a new generation. First seen at the National Mueum in Copenhagen, it has now travelled - much as the show's subjects once did - across the North Sea. It includes objects from 25 lending institutions spread across nine countries - 10 if you include Scotland, whose national law requires export licence.

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Listed: 10 American paintings before Pollock

Fisun Güner

The National Gallery recently embarked on a first: they acquired their first American painting. Men of the Docks, 1912, (main picture) may not be George Bellows’ most famous or best-regarded work; nonetheless, it’s a gritty and beautifully observed slice of New York life among the city’s dockside workers.

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theartsdesk in the Shetlands: Seasick Vikings

Thembi Mutch

“Would we be able to prosecute the Vikings today, should we? I mean are there parallels between what the Nazis did by plundering art and gold, or what the German soldiers did who raped Norwegian women when they occupied Norway?” Silke Roeploeg might perhaps fit the Viking caricature: tall, blonde, physically fit, ruddy weathered cheeks, and smart.  She is however German, and a lecturer on the Highland and Islands Nordic studies, which includes a component on Vikings.

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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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