tue 26/01/2021

Visual Arts Features

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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'I photographed Nelson Mandela'

Jillian Edelstein

In 1997 I was in South Africa working on Truth and Lies, my book about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, when the New York Times Magazine said that they were doing a major feature on Mandela. He’d been in office for three years. The photographs were taken in the presidential house, the former seat of the oppressors. It felt very surreal for me because even the décor was Cape Dutch furniture. It was not what you might imagine for a black president.

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Turner Prize 2013: Laure Prouvost's work is visually seductive, funny and clever

Fisun Güner

According to one broadsheet, Laure Prouvost was a “rank outsider” and the money was on comic doodler David Shrigley and the elusive Tino Seghal, he of those ghastly, utterly patronising performances designed to jolt the guileless gallery-goer from his or her imagined complacence.

Her narratives are ambiguous, layered, unreliable, fragmented

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Art and poetry: the image makers

Tim Cumming

When it comes to a blank page, artists and poets lead different kinds of lives and leave different kinds of marks. One for the eye, one for the ear, but both dependant on the thrill of recognition. The word, like paint, can be worked and reworked until the delight of a new image, a fresh metaphor in its right setting rings from the twisted garbage of lines in a notebook.

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theartsdesk in Dunkirk: The spirit of FRAC

Marina Vaizey

Those French and their grand projects! Not the least of them is the division of the country into 23 areas who acquire their own collections of international contemporary art, supplemented by a national loan collection, all under the rubric of FRAC, Fondation Régionale d’Art Contemporain. This 30-year programme has just opened a massive six-storey gallery as a brand new public face for the regional collection of the Nord-pas-de-Calais in the slightly forlorn city of Dunkirk.

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theartsdesk in Amsterdam: Being Kazimir Malevich

Claudia Pritchard

All eyes were on the Rijksmuseum when it re-opened in April after a 10-year refurbishment, but across the Museumplein, Amsterdam's gallery of contemporary and modern art, the Stedelijk, was already settling into its new look, unveiled six months before.

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