sat 20/04/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now, Gagosian Gallery review - old master, new ways

Florence Hallett

What are we to make of the two circles dustily inscribed in the background of Rembrandt’s c.1665 self-portrait? In a painting that bears the fruits of a life’s experience, drawn freehand, they might be a display of artistic virtuosity, or – more convincing were they unbroken – symbolise eternity.

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Edvard Munch: Love and Angst, British Museum review - compassion in the age of anxiety

Florence Hallett

Munch’s The Scream is as piercing as it has ever been, and its silence does nothing to lessen its viscerally devastating effect. It was painted in 1893, but it was a lithograph produced two years later – now the star of the biggest UK exhibition of Munch’s prints for a generation – that would make it famous.

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Mary Quant, Victoria & Albert Museum review - quantities of Quant

Katherine Waters

Mary Quant first made her name in 1955 with the wildly fashionable King’s Road boutique Bazaar. Initially selling a “bouillabaisse” of stock it was not until a pair of pyjamas she made was bought by an American who said he’d copy and mass produce them that Quant began dedicating herself to her own designs.

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Pitzhanger Manor review - letting the light back in

Katherine Waters

When in 1800 the architect Sir John Soane bought Pitzhanger Manor for £4,500, he did so under the spell of optimism, energy and hope.

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At Eternity's Gate review - Willem Dafoe excels in hyperactive biopic

Matt Wolf

It's all go – no, make that Van Gogh –  when it comes to the Dutch post-Impressionist of late.

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Van Gogh and Britain, Tate Britain review - tenuous but still persuasive

Florence Hallett

Soon after his death, Van Gogh’s reputation as a tragic genius was secured. Little has changed in the meantime, and he has continued to be understood as fatally unbalanced, ruled by instinct not intellect.

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Mike Nelson, The Asset Strippers, Tate Britain review – exhilarating reminder of industrial might

Sarah Kent

Mike Nelson has turned the Duveen Galleries into a museum commemorating Britain’s industrial past (pictured below right). Scruffy workbenches, dilapidated metal cabinets and stacks of old drawers are pressed into service as plinths for the display of heavy duty machines.

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Only Human: Martin Parr, National Portrait Gallery review - relentlessly feelgood

Marina Vaizey

The Magnum photographer Martin Parr has spent decades observing contemporary human activity world-wide as – perhaps – a mesmerised observer, an anthropologist, a tourist, addicted to the vagaries of the human condition.

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Kader Attia / Diane Arbus, Hayward Gallery review - views from the margins

Marina Vaizey

Feelings run high at the Hayward Gallery in a fascinating pairing of two artists from widely differing backgrounds. Kader Attia muses on unhappy, conflicted relationships between cultures in visual meditations on variations of colonialism.

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Louise Bourgeois, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge review - a slender but choice selection

Florence Hallett

Pink walls, slightly dusky in the subdued light of a room shielded from the wintry sun, suggest the bodily concerns of this show, which through the touring collection Artists' Rooms, boldly reviews Louise Bourgeois’s career in a single, modestly sized, exhibition space at Kettle’s Yard.

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