tue 20/03/2018

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

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.

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.

Murillo: The Self-Portraits, National Gallery...

Katherine Waters

Any commemoration of life will always contain a little seed of mortality. So it is with portraiture: the likeness – particularly those which...

theartsdesk in Korea: national pride and candour

Peter Quantrill

Fear not. The Arts Desk has not suddenly sprouted a Sports Desk. Heaven forfend. Korea in late February had more to offer than luge, bobsleigh,...

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

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...

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

Sarah Kent

Life on the margins brought centre stage in international photography anthology

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

Sarah Kent

The artist as explorer manqué

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

Katherine Waters

Comprehensive overview of neglected German Expressionist with a troubling past

The Best Exhibitions in London


From Charles I's collection to modern marginal lives in photography: our favourite shows to see now

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

Marina Vaizey

Space and light at the refurbished Hayward: huge views, artful manipulation from the German photographer

Charles I: King and Collector, Royal Academy review - a well executed display of taste

Marina Vaizey

Collection of the king's Old Masters is sumptuously brought back together

Come to Dust: Glenn Brown, Gagosian Gallery review - seductive and disturbing

Sarah Kent

Old masters given freakish new life

Lumiere London review - London in a different light

Katherine Waters

Artichoke curate luminous installations and projections round the capital

Selma Parlour: Upright Animal, Pi Artworks review - incandescent colours

Mark Sheerin

Opaque paintings evoke Renaissance perspective, classical architecture and satellite landscapes

Art UK, Art of the Nation review - public art in a private space

Katherine Waters

Digital catalogue of the nation's art distilled by five artists' choices

Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic, V&A review - nostalgic family fun

Marina Vaizey

The remarkable reach of a children's classic

From Life, Royal Academy review - perplexingly aimless

Florence Hallett

A lacklustre account of a defining practice in western art

Rose Wylie: Quack Quack, Serpentine Gallery - anarchy at 83

Sarah Kent

The octogenarian who paints with the fresh eye of a child

Modigliani, Tate Modern review - the pitfalls of excess

Katherine Waters

Blockbuster show of the bad boy of the Paris scene succumbs to surface

The Machines of Steven Pippin, The Edge, University of Bath review - technology as poetry

Sarah Kent

Art and engineering combined into a potent mix

Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland review, National Gallery - light-filled northern vistas

Marina Vaizey

One of the National Gallery's most popular postcards comes under the spotlight

Highlights from the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 - raw emotion, not always human

Bill Knight

One inveterate - and so far unsuccessful - participant sizes up this year's successes

The Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold


Leonardo's disputed Salvator Mundi has just topped the list. Who else is on it?

Out from the Darkness: painting out prison

Patrick Maguire

Imprisoned as a child, his whole family wrongfully convicted of terrorism offences, Patrick Maguire found solace in art

Red Star Over Russia, Tate Modern review – fascinating history in a nutshell

Sarah Kent

A glimpse into the design, manipulation and dissemination of images in the USSR

Impressionists in London, Tate Britain review - from the stodgy to the sublime

Marina Vaizey

Monet's Westminster views lead an anthology of lesser painters

ArtReview Power 100 - an artist tops the list

Marina Vaizey

The annual stocktake of the art world's main players is published

Age of Terror: Art Since 9/11, Imperial War Museum review - affecting but incoherent

Katherine Waters

Artistic response to terrorism works best in tiny vignettes

Monochrome, National Gallery review - colourless but not dreary

Florence Hallett

An arcane subject brought to life in an ambitious survey

Footnote: A brief history of british art

The National Gallery, the British Museum, Tate Modern, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Royal Collection - Britain's art galleries and museums are world-renowned, not only for the finest of British visual arts but core collections of antiquities and artworks from great world civilisations.

Holbein_Ambasssadors_1533The glory of British medieval art lay first in her magnificent cathedrals and manuscripts, but kings, aristocrats, scientists and explorers became the vital forces in British art, commissioning Holbein or Gainsborough portraits, founding museums of science or photography, or building palatial country mansions where architecture, craft and art united in a luxuriously cultured way of life (pictured, Holbein's The Ambassadors, 1533 © National Gallery). A rich physician Sir Hans Sloane launched the British Museum with his collection in 1753, and private collections were the basis in the 19th century for the National Gallery, the V&A, the National Portrait Gallery, the original Tate gallery and the Wallace Collections.

British art tendencies have long passionately divided between romantic abstraction and a deep-rooted love of narrative and reality. While 19th-century movements such as the Pre-Raphaelite painters and Victorian Gothic architects paid homage to decorative medieval traditions, individualists such as George Stubbs, William Hogarth, John Constable, J M W Turner and William Blake were radicals in their time.

In the 20th century sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, painters Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, architects Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers embody the contrasts between fantasy and observation. More recently another key patron, Charles Saatchi, championed the sensational Britart conceptual art explosion, typified by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. The Arts Desk reviews all the major exhibitions of art and photography as well as interviewing leading creative figures in depth about their careers and working practices. Our writers include Fisun Guner, Judith Flanders, Sarah Kent, Mark Hudson, Sue Steward and Josh Spero.

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