fri 30/09/2016

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

David Shrigley: Really Good, Fourth Plinth

Alison Cole

It was inevitable that David Shrigley's breezy new sculpture for Trafalgar Square – part of the popular Fourth Plinth Programme – would be appropriated for political purposes. As the giant seven-metre-high thumbs-up Really Good was unveiled by Mayor Sadiq Khan it was greeted with a sudden downpour, but exuded a defiant post-Brexit cheery optimism. "London is open to the world," declared Khan to the sodden onlookers, welcoming immigrants, EU citizens, people of all ages and backgrounds.Shrigley...

Turner Prize 2016, Tate Britain

Florence Hallett

While the Turner Prize shortlist can reasonably be expected to provide some sense of British art now, the extent to which British art can or should attempt to reflect a view of British life is surely a moot point. Art that is socially or politically engaged can all too easily tend towards the artless, its functionality placing it uncomfortably close to pamphleteering, with the certainties of propaganda drowning out the possibilities of art. Curious then, that the best of this year's four...

Helaine Blumenfeld: 'Beauty has become...

Rachel Halliburton

Helaine Blumenfeld was living in Paris in the 1960s when she received an invitation from the Russian-born sculptor Ossip Zadkine to attend one of his...

Abstract Expressionism, Royal Academy

Marina Vaizey

Gorgeous, sumptuous, thrilling: here comes Abstract Expressionism riding into town, the first major overview in London since its own contemporary...

William Kentridge: Thick Time, Whitechapel Gallery

Alison Cole

Of all the mesmerising images in William Kentridge’s major Whitechapel show, the one that lingers most, perhaps, is that of the artist himself, now...

Gaga for Dada: The Original Art Rebels, BBC Four

Florence Hallett

Inspiring student pranks and political satire, Dada is the lifeblood of 20th century culture

Bricks!, BBC Four

Marina Vaizey

Forty years on: the accidental furore around Carl Andre's work remembered

Giuseppe Penone, Marian Goodman Gallery

Alison Cole

Arte Povera works are rich in meditation on the relationship between man and nature

NEON: The Charged Line, Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool

Clem Hitchcock

A very 20th-century medium gets a retrospective in the city of electric sunshine

First Person: Portrait of Britain

Bill Knight

Bill Knight on his prizewinning photograph and the competition that turns advertising screens into art galleries

Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison

Sarah Kent

A spell in gaol has never been so rewarding

London's Burning

Katie Colombus

A cultural revelation that speaks as much of the present as it does of the past

Björk Digital, Somerset House

Tina Edwards

Virtual-reality show confirms Björk's place in the avant-garde

Colour, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Florence Hallett

Treasures jostle with texts to explore the art and science of manuscript illumination

Stubbs and the Wild, Holburne Museum, Bath

Marina Vaizey

Known as a painter of horses, the 18th-century artist captured an entire menagerie

William Eggleston Portraits, National Portrait Gallery

Sarah Kent

The American who made colour photography an art form

Winifred Knights, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Marina Vaizey

A forgotten Slade alumnus restored to prominence

Ragnar Kjartansson, Barbican Art Gallery

Sarah Kent

Fact and fiction coalesce in work by an artist born into an acting dynasty

The Banker's Guide to the Art Market, BBC Four

Florence Hallett

Not comedy, not documentary and offering some very poor advice

Les Rencontres d'Arles 2016

Bill Knight

Our man in France guides us through the highlights of the world-famous photo festival

Georgia O’Keeffe, Tate Modern

Sarah Kent

Defined by sexual readings of her flowers and other paintings, the American modernist gets a much-needed retrospective

Art Night London

Florence Hallett

The first edition of the capital's annual all-night art festival brought light in dark times

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life, Royal Academy

Alison Cole

An ongoing series of portraits has served as a tonic during difficult times, but its value is more personal than artistic

Painters' Paintings, National Gallery

Marina Vaizey

A glimpse inside artists' collections offers fresh insight into their own work

The Switch House, Tate Modern

Marina Vaizey

Magnificent new extension has light and space enough for new art and new visitors

Alex Katz, Serpentine Gallery

Sarah Kent

An oh-so-cool response to the outpourings of Abstract Expressionism

Whitstable Biennale 2016

Mark Sheerin

Kent's festival of art has grown up, but it hasn't lost its spark

Yayoi Kusama, Victoria Miro

Marina Vaizey

Japan's queen of spots reigns in the garden of the imagination

Found, The Foundling Museum

Sarah Kent

Geldof’s rubbish and Hendrix's staircase: history, memory and the value of things

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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40 Years On: The Arts Britain Ignores and Diversity in British Theatre

Friday 14 October

Curve, Leicester 


A national conference exploring diversity in British theatre and the current landscape for BAME artists, companies and audiences.


Created by Curve in partnership with local BAME–led organisations Serendipity Arts and Inspirate, 40 Years On: The Arts Britain Ignores and Diversity in British Theatre will feature an opening address by Naseem Khan to mark the 40th anniversary of her ground breaking report The Arts Britain Ignores.


Khan will look at the impact of the report and will join a host of industry panellists in examining how far UK theatre has progressed since.


The conference will be made up of structured panel sessions focusing on three topics; Commissioning, Training and Leadership.


Each panel session will cover various key issues facing our industry and include BAME leaders from across UK Theatre.


To find out more about the conference and to book tickets, click here, or alternatively, call the ticket office on 0116 242 3595

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