sat 18/11/2017

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland review, National Gallery - light-filled northern vistas

Marina Vaizey

Finland is celebrating its centenary this year and the National Gallery's exhibition of four paintings by Akseli Gallen-Kalela (1865-1931) of a very large lake in central Finland is a beguiling glimpse of the passion its inhabitants attach to its scenic beauty, in winter darkness and here, summer night. Finland possesses almost 190,000 lakes, depending on your definition.

The Best Exhibitions in London


Basquiat: Boom for Real, Barbican ★★★★ Appraising the graffiti artist whose paintings fetch over $100 million at auction. Until 28 Jan

Highlights from the Taylor Wessing Photographic...

Bill Knight

What does it take to be included in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition? This year 2,423 photographers entered 5,717 images: 2,...

The Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold


Yesterday the record for the most expensive painting ever sold was broken. At Christie's in New York Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi the hammer...

Out from the Darkness: painting out prison

Patrick Maguire

When I was sent to an adult high security prison aged 14 all the normal colour, shapes and movement that I saw around me each and every day as a...

Red Star Over Russia, Tate Modern review – fascinating history in a nutshell

Sarah Kent

A glimpse into the design, manipulation and dissemination of images in the USSR

Impressionists in London, Tate Britain review - from the stodgy to the sublime

Marina Vaizey

Monet's Westminster views lead an anthology of lesser painters

ArtReview Power 100 - an artist tops the list

Marina Vaizey

The annual stocktake of the art world's main players is published

Age of Terror: Art Since 9/11, Imperial War Museum review - affecting but incoherent

Katherine Waters

Artistic response to terrorism works best in tiny vignettes

Monochrome, National Gallery review - colourless but not dreary

Florence Hallett

An arcane subject brought to life in an ambitious survey

Cézanne Portraits, National Portrait Gallery review - eye-opening and heart-breaking

Marina Vaizey

Hallucinatory intensity in a once-in-a-lifetime show

Tove Jansson (1914-2001), Dulwich Picture Gallery review – more than Moominvalley

Rebecca Sykes

Timely exhibition celebrates Finnish illustrator’s painterly ambition

Soutine's Portraits, Courtauld Gallery review - a superb, unsettling show

Alison Cole

Humanity writ large in cooks, waiters and bellboys by French-Russian portraitist

David Bomberg, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester review - a reputation restored

Katherine Waters

Light shed on neglected British artist by a timely touring exhibition

Harry Potter: A History of Magic, British Library review - weirdly wonderful

Jasper Rees

Loans from JK Rowling sit comfortably alongside ancient books and objects

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Tate Modern review – funny, moving and revelatory

Sarah Kent

Not Everyone Will Be Taken into the Future: the artist who came in from the cold and met his soulmate

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics, V&A review - seven cities, seven masterpieces

David Nice

Stunning range in spacious operatic rooms

h.Club 100 Awards 2017: The Winners


News from The Hospital Club's annual awards for the creative industries, plus theartsdesk's Young Reviewer of the Year

Young Reviewer of the Year Award Winner: Katherine Waters on Marc Quinn

Katherine Waters

The winning entry of theartsdesk's award reviews Drawn from Life at Sir John Soane's Museum

Young Reviewer of the Year Award: the four finalists are...


Announcing the shortlist of our critics' competition, with extracts from each entry

Jasper Johns, Royal Academy review - a master of 50 shades

Marina Vaizey

'Something resembling truth': the master mark-maker transforms the familiar into the exotic

Basquiat: Boom for Real, Barbican review - the myth explored

Sarah Kent

Appraising the graffiti artist whose paintings fetch over $100 million at auction

Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell Collection review - guilty pleasures at the National Gallery

Florence Hallett

How pastel became a truly modern medium

Rachel Whiteread, Tate Britain review – exceptional beauty

Sarah Kent

A singular vision that transforms everyday objects into extraordinary sculptures

DVD: Every Picture Tells a Story

Marina Vaizey

The art films of James Scott: a very mixed anthology, dating from 1966 to 1983

h.Club 100 Awards: Art, Design and Craft - weaving magic at Dovecot Tapestry Studio

Florence Hallett

Introducing one of this year's nominees, from a shortlist packed with talent

Sue Steward 1946-2017: She came, she saw, she salsa'd


The Arts Desk's adventurous music and photography critic remembered

James Hamilton: Gainsborough - A Portrait review - an artistic life told with verve and enthusiasm

Marina Vaizey

An original, chatty but scholarly biography of the great English artist

Matisse in the Studio, Royal Academy review - a fascinating compilation

Marina Vaizey

Intriguing insight into the artist's relationship with his possessions

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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