Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews
The brute nature of man in times of war, religious persecution and hypocrisy, and the destructive power of superstition. Francisco de Goya’s fame today largely rests on such themes, and they go a long way to explain just why he’s often considered the first modern artist. But Goya was also a remarkable portraitist, an official painter to the Spanish court, and one of art's great sensualists. And though we don’t have the famous nude and clothed Maja, which hang side-by-side in the Prado, the...
What’s going on? It seems the Turner Prize judges not only ran out of Scots to nominate this year, but actual artists. The socially enterprising architect-design collective Assemble don’t even call themselves artists so what must they make of the novelty of being shortlisted for the UK’s premier contemporary art prize? I’ve no doubt they’re delighted, especially since they appear favourites to win, but what a turn up. Perhaps far more of a novelty though, is the lack of Glasgow School of...
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.
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
John Lennon was born 75 years ago. To blow out the candles we revisit every...
Sondheim as opera fails to stay the distance
Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar lead stellar cast into the murky criminal...
Robin Haggart premieres a repertoire rarity with Andrew Manze and RLPO
Powerful and exuberant early live album from the Senegalese legend
The US indie rock band played a small gig that gave a big return
Denis Villeneuve is at the helm and Emily Blunt at the fore of a brutal nar...
Gripping melodrama reaches its conclusion
Evocation of rudderless rural lives is beautifully staged
Evergreen punk blues man unveils his new band and tears the place down
Lowering skies and endless storms in exploration of Celtic culture, history
Well-deserved West End transfer for Florian Zeller’s powerful portrait of d...
Alecky Blythe's documentary stage musical looks at home on the small s...
Barrie Keeffe's work still has resonance nearly 40 years on
Outstanding documentary on ice hockey and politics charts changing mood of...
So much drama and emotion - an exhibition that pulses with life