Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews
What does it mean to be a great artist? Is it enough for your work to be admired, studied, emulated and quoted by contemporaries and subsequent generations, or is the value of art judged by a more complex set of criteria? By considering the extent of Rubens’ influence on artists from Rembrandt to Klimt, the Royal Academy is having a go at skinning a very old and troublesome cat: the elevation of Rubens from gifted confectioner to worthy Old Master.In examining why Rubens should be given a place...
Artangel continues to instigate extraordinary events in extraordinary places. Over the past two decades and more, directors Michael Morris and James Lingwood have helped generate major and ground-breaking work by Rachel Whiteread, Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson, Roni Horn, Jeremy Deller, Steve McQueen, Matthew Barney, Gregor Schneider, Francis Alÿs and many others. It's a long list. Their latest collaboration with PJ Harvey is no less thought-provoking and inspiring than the best of their unique...
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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