sun 23/07/2017

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Trajal Harrell: Hoochie Koochie, Barbican review - flamboyant and mesmerising

Sarah Kent

Two performers rush down the stairs and sweep through the audience, their designer outfits splaying out as they speed elegantly around the gallery and disappear as quickly as they came. Thus begins a series of performances that are an intriguing mix of flamboyant narcissism and minimalist restraint. 

Rose Finn-Kelcey: Life, Belief and Beyond, Modern Art Oxford review - revelation and delight

Sarah Kent

Rose Finn-Kelcey was one of the most interesting and original artists of her generation. Yet when she died in 2014 at the age of 69, she could have disappeared from view if she not spent the last few years of her life assembling a monograph about her work.

Enter theartsdesk's Young Reviewer of the...


The Hospital Club’s annual h.Club100 awards celebrate the most influential and innovative people working in the UK’s creative industries, with...

The Best Exhibitions in London


A Handful of Dust, Whitechapel Gallery ★★★ From macro to micro, the seduction of dust knows no bounds. Until 3 SeptAlbertto Giacometti, Tate Modern...

The Encounter, National Portrait Gallery review...

Florence Hallett

As a line flows or falters, registering each slight change in pressure, pause, or occasional reworking, it seems to offer a glimpse into the mind of...

theartsdesk in Antwerp: Richard Deacon says nothing

Mark Sheerin

Art and life are irreconcilable in the British sculptor's solo show

theartsdesk at Les Rencontres d'Arles: breadth and depth at the veteran photo festival

Bill Knight

The world in focus at inspirational annual photography event

The Exhibition Road Quarter review, V&A - an intelligent and much needed expansion

Marina Vaizey

One of the country's great museums gets a makeover

Sargent, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - wonders in watercolour

Marina Vaizey

The great portraitist lets his hair down

Portraying a Nation, Tate Liverpool review – an inspired juxtaposition

Sarah Kent

Two artists hounded by the Nazis for their unflinching portrayal of the German people

National Gallery of Ireland review - bigger and better

Marina Vaizey

Dublin celebrates the reopening of its refurbished art gallery with Vermeer

Fahrelnissa Zeid, Tate Modern review - rediscovering a forgotten genius

Sarah Kent

How a major 20th century painter was erased from history

A Handful of Dust, Whitechapel Gallery review - grime does pay

Sarah Kent

From macro to micro, the seduction of dust knows no bounds

Michelangelo: Love and Death review - how to diminish a colossus

Alison Cole

Earnest and worthy cinematic documentary fails to bring the glorious artist to life

Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! Serpentine Gallery

Sarah Kent

The man in a frock reflects on a divided Britain and makes kitsch okay

The Discovery of Mondrian review - the most comprehensive survey ever

Florence Hallett

Marking 100 years of De Stijl, The Hague celebrates a local hero

Jean Arp: Poetry of Forms review - subversive pioneer honoured in Holland

Alison Cole

A celebratory retrospective in Otterlo is heading for Margate

Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave, British Museum

Florence Hallett

The final years of Japan's greatest artist

The Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold


Works by Basquiat and Lichtenstein have joined an exclusive list. Who else is on it?

Highlights from Photo London 2017 - virtual reality meets vintage treasure

Bill Knight

Our resident photographer rummages through a mixed bag

Visual art at Brighton Festival - disturbing, playful, but ultimately rudderless

Mark Sheerin

A depleted art strand lacks direction

57th Venice Biennale review - riveting and bewildering

Alison Cole

Extreme art trek provides enough high points to justify the foot sores

Canaletto & the Art of Venice, The Queen's Gallery - preview

Florence Hallett

One of the world's great collections reveals the secrets of an 18th-century master

Alberto Giacometti, Tate Modern

Marina Vaizey

An ample and moving encounter with a visionary modernist

Picasso: Minotaurs and Matadors, Gagosian

Alison Cole

Bullish Picasso still fascinates in Sir John Richardson’s richly curated show

Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains, V&A review – from innocence to experience and beyond

Adam Sweeting

Brilliantly inventive exhibition revisits a half-century of the Floyd

theartsdesk at The Hospital Club


Announcing a new partnership with the most creative club in London

Richard Long: Earth Sky, Houghton Hall

Florence Hallett

The sculptor uses English materials to take over an 18th-century estate in Norfolk

Chris Ofili, National Gallery

Florence Hallett

Weaving with water: a tribute to Trinidad, the Old Masters and Mario Balotelli

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.

Close Footnote

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on 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 gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

latest in today

Reissue CDs Weekly: Ramones

Production gloss and deliberation are not notions immediately springing to mind while pondering the 1976-era Ramones. Even so, this new edition of...

CD: Lana Del Rey - Lust For Life

Lana Del Rey is hard to suss. Her cinematic plasticity is part of her appeal, yet it’s also what makes her difficult to love. One thing she cannot...

Trajal Harrell: Hoochie Koochie, Barbican review - flamboyan...

Two performers rush down the stairs and sweep through the audience, their designer outfits splaying out as they speed elegantly around the gallery...

It's So Easy and Other Lies, Sky Arts review - uneven r...

Duff McKagan is a survivor. He’s a bass player too, from the fledgling Seattle...

CD: Alice Cooper - Paranormal

The cover of Alice Cooper’s first album in six years shows the erstwhile Vincent Furnier with two heads. This, one assumes, is supposed to provide...

Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare's Globe review - sw...

When I say that Matthew Dunster’s Much Ado is revolutionary I’m not talking about the many textual updatings and...

Coming soon: trailers to the next big films

Summer's here, which can only mean Hollywood blockbusters. But it's not all Spider-Man, talking apes and World War Two with platoons of thespians...

DVD/Blu-ray: The Fabulous Baron Munchausen

Baron Munchausen’s exploits have been filmed before. Terry Gilliam’s star-studded 1988 version floundered thanks to a sub-par script, and there’s...