tue 23/07/2019

Visual Arts Reviews

Points of View: Capturing the 19th century in photographs, British Library

sue Steward Printing Kodak, 1890: female staff mass-producing albumen prints made using eggwhites from 100 chickens in the yard

“Photography is a refuge for failed painters,” declared the French poet, Charles Baudelaire around 1862. Yet photography took over a century to become a genuine family member of the art world. The British Library was slow to capitalise on the visitor value and historical significance of the vast photo-archive that it accumulated over the birth-period of this new artform. But its spectacular debut exhibition has burst open the vaults containing over 300,000 images, and now presents a...

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Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting, Hayward Gallery

Mark Hudson

West Coast pop art always was a poor relation to the world-beating New York original. Beside the Big Apple titans – Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg – LA painters such as Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin and John Altoon remained essentially local figures. Or that’s certainly the way it has looked from this side of the pond.

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Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2009, National Portrait Gallery

Fisun Güner

Does a winning photograph jump out at you? Sure, we can talk earnestly of composition, an interesting subject, a telling juxtaposition, or the abstract interplay of colour, texture and light. But perhaps more than any other visual art form, what strikes us most about a photographic image remains somehow more elusive. And the hand of the artist who presses the shutter, rather than wields the brush, is not so easily perceived.

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Wild Thing: Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska, Gill, Royal Academy

Fisun Güner

By all accounts Eric Gill had a shocking private life.

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Drawing Attention, Dulwich Picture Gallery

howard Male Schiele's Portrait of a Girl: stretching to the very limit the pared-down language of decisive line and white space.

The first thing to say about Drawing Attention is that its title decidedly undersells the scope of this compelling and unpredictable exhibition, which spans five centuries and includes 100 works from the Art Gallery of Ontario’s collection. Most of us might define a drawing as some kind of monochromatic sketch, either produced by the artist as preparatory work for a finished painting, or to capture some ephemeral moment. The drawing represents artists, paradoxically, at their most...

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Damien Hirst: No Love Lost - Blue Paintings, Wallace Collection

mark Irving

Damien Hirst's new exhibition at the Wallace Collection is evidence of a deal between nervous guardians of the past and a contemporary artist seeking to burnish his future historical credentials. It stinks. Entitled No Love Lost, Blue Paintings by Damien Hirst ­ - the clunking allusion to Picasso's Blue Period marks out the scale of Hirst's ambition -­ it presents 25 paintings that we are assured are actually by Hirst rather than a cohort of assistants.

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Turner Prize 2009, Tate Britain

Mark Hudson

Anyone who has had their sensibilities battered by Tate Modern’s Pop Life show is likely to be equally taken aback if they wander along the Thames to this year’s Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain – but for completely different reasons. If Pop Life leaves you feeling that art can only progress through ever greater acts of outrage – that if you’re not actually having sex on camera you hardly count as creative – the tone over at Tate Britain is measured, cool, even academic...

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Conrad Shawcross: Chord

Josh Spero

Is site-specific the new collaboration? What I mean by this is that where it was once the fashion for artists and dancers (think Robert Rauschenberg and Merce Cunningham) or film directors and opera houses (Anthony Minghella and the ENO) to mix art forms, now...

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Pop Life: Art in a Material World, Tate Modern

Mark Hudson

That artists didn't just respond to the rapacious commercialism of the late 20th century, but actively contributed to it is hardly news. That the marketing of art can be part of the art itself  is something everyone now implicitly understands, even if it’s only through hearing Tracey Emin wittering about herself on television.

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Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler, British Museum

admin

History is written in blood, however elegant the cover. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the collapse in 1521 of the Aztec Empire, a culture that presented Europe with a vision of such otherness that it could only be destroyed. In 2002, the Royal Academy of Arts tried to persuade us to look beyond the grisly tales of human sacrifice to a more nuanced portrait of a people steeped in gory rituals that we, soaked in the serial-killer television porn of the 21st century, might strangely...

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