wed 22/05/2024

Visual Arts Reviews

Brancusi, Pompidou Centre, Paris review - a sculptor's spiritual quest for form and essence

mark Kidel

One hundred and twenty sculptures, and so much more: the current Brancusi blockbuster at the Centre Pompidou, the first large Paris show of the Romanian-born sculptor’s work since 1995, provides an exhilarating and in many ways definitive perspective on one of the founding figures of 20th century modernism.

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Expressionists: Kandinsky, Münter and the Blue Rider, Tate Modern review - a missed opportunity

Sarah Kent

In 1903, Wassily Kandinsky painted a figure in a blue cloak galloping across a landscape on a white horse. Several years later the name of the painting, The Blue Rider (der Blaue Reiter) was adopted by a group of friends who joined forces to exhibit together and disseminate their ideas in a publication of the same name.

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Eye to Eye: Homage to Ernst Scheidegger, MASI Lugano review - era-defining artist portraits

Mark Sheerin

With a troubled gaze and a lived-in face, the portrait of artist Alberto Giacometti on a withdrawn Swiss banknote is strange currency indeed. One need only think of the confidence and pomp with which national heroes gaze at us from Great British cash.

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Stephen review - a breathtakingly good first feature by a multi-media artist

Sarah Kent

Stephen is the first feature film by multi-media artist Melanie Manchot and it’s the best debut film I’ve seen since Steve McQueen’s Hunger. It’s gripping from the first frame to the last; the tension rarely lets up as we watch the main character lying and cheating his way through life as he struggles with addiction and is fleeced by card and loan sharks. In a heart-wrenching scene, his brother Paul (expertly played by Cam Riley) begs him to seek help.

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Fantastic Machine review - photography's story from one camera to 45 billion

Sarah Kent

The first photograph was taken nearly 200 years ago in France by Joseph Niépce, and the first picture of a person was taken in Paris by Louis Daguerre in 1838 (main picture). 

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Yinka Shonibare: Suspended States, Serpentine Gallery review - pure delight

Sarah Kent

Yinka Shonibare’s Serpentine Gallery exhibition opens with a piece of cloth twirling in the breeze; except that it’s a bronze sculpture probably weighing a ton or more – such is the power of art (pictured below right: detail of Wind Sculpture IV, 2024 with African Bird Magic, 2023).

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Jane Harris: Ellipse, Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MÉCA, Bordeaux review - ovals to the fore

Mark Sheerin

In a sixth-floor gallery, flooded with natural light, four paintings and a handful of works on paper compete with views across the River Garonne in Bordeaux. They also vie for attention amidst a history of abstract painting, in which it can feel that everything has been done. The English painter Jane Harris (pictured below right), who sadly passed away in 2022, did find an unexplored niche, however.

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Sargent and Fashion, Tate Britain review - portraiture as a performance

Sarah Kent

At the turn of the 20th century, London’s smart set queued up to get their portraits painted by American-born artist John Singer Sargent. Sitting for him was a performance, a way to show the world just how rich, glamorous, clever or important you were. And everything – from the pose to the hair, jewellery and clothing – was stage-managed to create the best impression.

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Zineb Sedira: Dreams Have No Titles, Whitechapel Gallery review - a disorientating mix of fact and fiction

Sarah Kent

The downstairs of the Whitechapel Gallery has been converted into a ballroom or, rather, a film set of a ballroom. From time to time, a couple glides briefly across the floor, dancing a perfunctory tango. And they are really hamming it up, not for the people watching them – of whom they are apparently oblivious – but for an imaginary camera.

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Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind, Tate Modern review - a fitting celebration of the early years

Sarah Kent

At last Yoko Ono is being acknowledged in Britain as a major avant garde artist in her own right. It has been a long wait; last year was her 90th birthday! The problem, of course, was her relationship with John Lennon and perceptions of her as the Japanese weirdo who broke up the Beatles and led Lennon astray – down a crooked path to oddball, hippy happenings.

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