thu 23/10/2014

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Grayson Perry: Who Are You?, Channel 4

Jasper Rees

The night before he was locked up, Chris Huhne had that Grayson Perry round for tuna steaks. Who knew? Perry had embarked on a series of portraits about identity at a crossroads, and can there be a more public crisis of identity than a Cabinet minister going to prison? First Perry wanted to get to know his subject, but Huhne was resistant to probing. “People are not like Russian dolls,” he volunteered. “They are exactly like Russian dolls!” countered Perry.Perry’s theory of the portrait is that...

Pierre Huyghe/ Paul McCarthy, Hauser & Wirth

Fisun Güner

In a tavern somewhere in Tokyo, two Japanese macaque monkeys work a daily, two-hour shift (under Japanese law, these hours are regulated). Dressed in miniature uniforms, the monkeys’ main task is to deliver hot towels to amused customers before drinks orders are taken by a human. The customers tip the monkeys in boiled soy beans. A search on YouTube throws up quite a few of these monkey-waiter skits. Who knew? Perhaps all the footage comes from the same restaurant, since it seems unusual...

Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World, Globe...

Sarah Kent

On Saturday at Shakespeare’s Globe, the Alternative Miss World was staged for the 13th time. Having launched this gloriously tacky event in his...

Witches and Wicked Bodies, British Museum

Florence Hallett

Wicked women have always sold well, but more than that, they have fired the artistic imagination in a quite exceptional way. Exploring the depiction...

The spooky and the bold in the art of...

Mark Sheerin

In China there are more than 100 million fans of Manchester United. At least that’s what I’m told when I get to the the city's National Football...

Schama on Rembrandt: Masterpieces of the Late Years, BBC Two

Marina Vaizey

Simon Schama campaigns and entertains, but does he explain?

Richard Serra, Gagosian Gallery

Marina Vaizey

Hardly ever has a heavyweight operated with so light a hand

Germany: Memories of a Nation, British Museum

Marina Vaizey

A staggeringly ambitious and powerful history spanning six centuries and told through objects

Richard Tuttle, Tate Modern / Whitechapel Gallery

Florence Hallett

Renowned American artist revisits old themes in his biggest sculpture yet

Steve McQueen: Ashes, Thomas Dane Gallery

Sarah Kent

A film and a broken column pay tribute to a young innocent with limited horizons

Rembrandt: The Late Works, National Gallery

Fisun Güner

In his last decade, the Dutch artist suffered hardship, but painted some of his most enduring masterpieces

Glenn Ligon: Call and Response, Camden Arts Centre

Sarah Kent

The man who sneaked politics into abstraction fails to upset any apple carts

Cathedrals of Culture

Tom Birchenough

'Genius loci': the souls of six buildings caught by six directors, in 3D

Listening, BALTIC 39, Hayward Touring

Sarah Kent

Tune in to Korean women who use special sounds to dive deep and trucks that change your radio station

Six of the best: Art


theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top exhibitions

Sigmar Polke: Alibis, Tate Modern

Marina Vaizey

He diligently avoided a signature style, but the late German artist's wit and intellect were always evident

Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination, British Library

Jasper Rees

Shlock, horror and shrieks: the story of popular entertainment displayed

Anselm Kiefer, Royal Academy

Fisun Güner

When he is good he is very, very good, but, my word, does he over-egg the pudding

Constructing Worlds, Barbican Art Gallery

Sarah Kent

Eighteen photographers driven by a love/hate relationship with modern architecture

Turner Prize 2014, Tate Britain

Fisun Güner

Poor art and pretentious art, with lashings of art gobbledygook - not a vintage year

Ming: 50 Years That Changed China, British Museum

Marina Vaizey

More than blue and white porcelain emerged from the 300-year dynasty

theartsdesk in Bamberg: Top Town, Top Orchestra

David Nice

Conductor Jonathan Nott's world-class team is only one reason for visiting Germany's jewel

Constable: The Making of a Master, Victoria & Albert Museum

Marina Vaizey

The landscape artist revealed as a student not just of nature but also of the Old Masters

Was it right to censor Exhibit B?

Fisun Güner

A white artist recreates a 'human zoo'. Are we meant to be surprised at the blacklash?

Anthony Caro: The Last Sculptures, Annely Juda

Marina Vaizey

New formulations and materials preoccupied the late sculptor to the end

theartsdesk in Cadaqués: Inside Dalí

Markie Robson-Scott

A Catalan fishing village is the world capital of Surrealism

The Real Tudors, National Portrait Gallery

Florence Hallett

A modest but groundbreaking display brings together portraits of a great dynasty

Jasper Johns: Regrets, Courtauld Gallery

Fisun Güner

A rich and multifaceted body of work that offers a modern twist on the memento mori

Francesca Woodman: Zigzag, Victoria Miro

Marina Vaizey

An exhibition that lends new insights and depth to the late photographer's work

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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