Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews
The strikingly architectural space that forms the upper portion of Botticini’s Palmieri altarpiece is well-suited to an entrance, forming as it does a sort of triumphal arch heralding great things beyond. And so it is that for years this painting hung over the entrance to the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing, oddly well-placed, but in truth of course, entirely out of place. In its new, albeit temporary position, we have a better sense of how this painting might have been seen some 500 years...
Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries are currently filled with a hauntingly beautiful sound installation by Susan Philipsz (main picture). The Scottish artist won the Turner Prize in 2010 for a sound piece that didn’t really work at the Tate. Intended to be heard under the bridges spanning the River Clyde in Glasgow, the recording of Philipsz's fragile voice singing sad folk songs was largely drowned out by ambient noise.This time, though, she has been able to design the installation especially for...
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.
Help us to rediscover a Rubens masterpiece
Rubens conservation appeal
The Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens was among the greatest artists of the 17th century: inventive, ambitious, and prolific, his work has come to epitomise the Baroque style. As a charity, the National Gallery needs your help to restore one of his most beautiful oil sketches, The Birth of Venus. With your support, not only will The National Gallery be able to complete the work necessary to restore this sketch, they will also be able to undertake scientific and curatorial analysis, which will enhance the understanding of Rubens’s work.
Donate via the National Gallery’s Just Giving page today www.justgiving.com/NG-Rubens-Conservation-Appeal/
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
latest in today
Spielberg's warm-hearted Cold War thriller is lit up by Tom Hanks and...
Gruelling Boston crime saga brings out the best of Johnny Depp
Phineas Fogg is off on his travels at St James Theatre. Its author explains...
Oscar-winning masterpiece from the Czech New Wave
Knee-high humans provide a first-class lesson in life
The superhero universe has gained another star
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are the star-crossed lovers of a ravishing r...
This late romance is fairytale-charming, but its comedy is overpowering
A drippy, if anthemic, second date with the latest teen dreams
Big, beautiful and edge-of-seat immersive – the Force is strong with this o...
New RD Laing drama is a surreal tribute to a great 20th-century thinker and...
A night of highs as the US rock band tackle 'Low'
A long-lost Florentine church brought back to life through its altarpieces
Jamie Lloyd's bold production makes Pinter freshly unsettling
Reappraising George Hoellering - his screen version of TS Eliot's vers...
Observational comic with a cutting edge