Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews
Anselm Kiefer reminds me a bit of someone I once worked for. Totally unpredictable, and possessed of a formidable intelligence and creativity, his mental leaps can be bewilderingly hard to follow, leading occasionally to truly breathtaking results, but crashing and burning just as often. Everyone else, like me, or in Kiefer’s case his long-suffering assistant Tony, not to mention poor old Alan Yentob, has to trot along behind, barely able to keep up with the barrage of ideas, questions and...
Baudelaire called him a “pictorial Balzac” and said he was the most important man “in the whole of modern art”, while Degas was only a little less effusive, claiming him as one of the three greatest draughtsman of the 19th century, alongside Ingres and Delacroix.Honoré Daumier has always been held in the highest esteem by fellow artists, both in his own time and today, with contemporary artists such as Peter Doig and Paula Rego keen admirers. But beside his technical skills, Daumier was also...
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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