wed 26/02/2020

Visual Arts Reviews

Picasso 1932: Love Fame Tragedy, Tate Modern review - a diary in paint?

Florence Hallett

Painted in ice-cream shades punctuated with vivid red, the series of portraits made by Picasso in the early weeks of 1932 are as dreamy as love letters. His mistress Marie-Thérèse Walther – we assume it is she – lies adrift in post-coital languor, her body spread before us as a delicious and endlessly fascinating confection.

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Joan Jonas, Tate Modern review - work as elusive as it is beautiful

Sarah Kent

The American artist, Joan Jonas is one of the pioneers of performance art. Now 82, she is being honoured with a Tate Modern retrospective and Ten Days Six Nights, a festival of live art in which many of her performances are being recreated.

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Tacita Dean: Portrait, National Portrait Gallery / Still Life, National Gallery review - film as a fine art

Sarah Kent

Sometimes you come across an artwork that changes the way you see the world. Tacita Dean’s film portrait of the American choreographer Merce Cunningham (main picture) is one such encounter.

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Victorian Giants, National Portrait Gallery review - pioneers of photography

Marina Vaizey

It is a very human crowd at Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography. There are the slightly melancholic portraits of authoritative and bearded male Victorian eminences, among them Darwin, Tennyson, Carlyle and Sir John Herschel.

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Murillo: The Self-Portraits, National Gallery review - edged with darkness

Katherine Waters

Mortality inflects commemoration. So it is with portraiture: the likeness  particularly those which celebrate lives of status and accomplishment  will always be limned with death.

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All Too Human, Tate Britain review - life in the raw

Florence Hallett

Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud are here to draw in the crowds, but also to set the tone of a Tate Britain exhibition that explores the equivalence of flesh and paint in depictions of the body that even at their most tender and sensual rarely stray far from the brutal and disturbing.

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Another Kind of Life, Barbican review - intense encounters with marginal lives

Sarah Kent

“I start out as an outsider, usually photographing other outsiders, and then at some point I step over a line and become an insider,” wrote American photographer Bruce Davidson.

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Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World, Whitechapel Gallery review - handsome installations

Sarah Kent

On entering the gallery, you are greeted by the cheeping of birds.

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Emil Nolde: Colour Is Life, National Gallery of Ireland review - boats, dancers, flowers

Katherine Waters

Colours had meanings for Emil Nolde. “Yellow can depict happiness and also pain. Red can mean fire, blood or roses; blue can mean silver, the sky or a storm.” As the son of a German-Frisian father and a Schleswig-Dane mother, Nolde was raised in a pious household on the windswept flat land on the border on Germany and Denmark that his family farmed.

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Andreas Gursky, Hayward Gallery review - staggering scale, personal perspective

Marina Vaizey

“Let the light in” has been the fundraising slogan for the two-year project to revamp and modernise the Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery, and adjacent Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room. And that is just what has happened, with two triumphs at the Hayward.

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