wed 21/08/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

Romantics, Tate Britain

Judith Flanders William Blake: 'The First Book of Urizen', Plate 7 Small Book of Designs

Everyone likes a “lost treasure” story, a story where something missing for hundreds of years turns up in an unexpected place, bringing sudden riches to the lucky finder. In the 1970s, a purchaser of an old railway timetable found, tucked inside the book, eight hand-coloured etchings, which were quickly identified as rare images by William Blake. On top of the etchings Blake had used watercolour and then tempera, then pen and ink, thus making these one-off images that had been hidden for...

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Domesday, BBC Two/ Treasures of the Anglo-Saxons, BBC Four

Josh Spero

What was originally a coincidence of reviewing – two dispatches from the Dark Ages, Treasures of the Anglo-Saxons on BBC Four and Domesday on BBC Two – in fact turned into a remarkably instructive diptych of how and how not to make history programmes for the television.

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Futureproof: Scottish Photography Graduate Show, Glasgow

sue Steward

To Futureproof is to ensure that we don’t become technologically obsolete, but keep in touch with as yet undeveloped technologies and exploit those already in the ether. It’s an apt title for this exhibition of work by 16 graduates from the five Scottish university photography departments. That most are already future-proofing themselves is apparent in their diverse approaches to their work.

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My Perspective: Down's Syndrome Photography Prize, Strand Gallery

sue Steward Sunrise in Wales: 12-year-old Rory Davies's winning photograph, 'Sun'

“There is a tradition of photographing people with Down’s syndrome, but not of positive, strong images of people staring back at you, challenging you to look at them. This exhibition reverses that. The images we produce are not sympathetic or sentimental, but strong and covering all aspects of life, and using contemporary photography to get our message across. We’ve turned the camera 180 degrees and now the former subjects are in control.”

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Joana Vasconcelos/ Polly Morgan, Haunch of Venison

Fisun Güner Joana Vasconcelos: 'Garden of Eden': 'As the flowers quiver, you can hear their motors faintly clicking, like a field of crickets'

The former Museum of Mankind, just behind the Royal Academy, has been the temporary home of the Haunch of Venison gallery for some two years. They’re moving back to their original home next spring, and though the newly extended building (Lord Nelson’s former residence at Haunch of Venison Yard, near Old Bond Street) is big and rather grand, the former museum is even bigger and grander. With neither longevity nor reputation to rely on, it’s a tough space for any young artist to fill. Still,...

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Camille Silvy: Photographer of Modern Life, 1834-1910, National Portrait Gallery

Judith Flanders

Camille Silvy may be the least recognised of all the great photographic innovators of the 19th century. After a decade of almost ceaseless technical innovation, and astonishing output as the society portrait-photographer of the 1860s, he abruptly closed his London studio, aged only 34, returned to France, and, after a brief stint in the garde mobile in the Franco-Prussian War, spent much of the rest of his life in and out of asylums.

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Sargent and the Sea, Royal Academy

Fisun Güner

There’s a little-known side to the 19th-century American artist John Singer Sargent, and it is as far removed from the razzle-dazzle of his glittering career as a high-society portraitist as you can imagine. The artist who was famously described by Rodin as “the Van Dyck of our times” started his career emulating that great master of the seas, J M W Turner. He diligently honed his craft by painting dramatic seascapes, gentle coastlines and noble fishing folk. And if the 20-year-old Sargent...

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Paula Rego: Oratoria, Marlborough Fine Art

Sarah Kent Paula Rego: 'scenes of debauchery given a carnivalesque air'

I must admit that I enjoy killing things and, since the target of my murderous instincts are clothes moths, fruit flies and, occasionally, rats or mice, society condones my bloodthirsty instincts. But while I get some satisfaction from my exploits, the women in Paula Rego’s drawings and prints appear to go about their murderous business with a mixture of resignation and detachment. These things have to be done, their world-weary faces seem to say, let’s expedite them with as little fuss as...

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The The Things Is (For Three), Milton Keynes Gallery

Mark Hudson '1... 2': Has this artist chosen anonymity out of protest, or is it an act of suicidal perversity?

It’s not often you find yourself in an art gallery with the business end of a bullwhip whizzing inches from your nose. Wielded by a disconcertingly slight, black-haired woman who can barely be half its length, the terrifying instrument defines the dimly lit space with its whirling undulations and earsplitting crack, sending the gaggle of spectators cowering into adjacent rooms. Why there is also a grand piano present is probably only entirely known to the unnamed artist who brought this...

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Alice Neel: Painted Truths, Whitechapel Gallery

Fisun Güner

What a troubled life Alice Neel led.

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