fri 29/07/2016

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

William Eggleston Portraits, National Portrait Gallery

Sarah Kent

American photographer William Eggleston is famous for dedicating himself to colour photography at a time when it was still considered kitsch – acceptable for wedding and Christening photos, but not much else. The best known example of his embrace of colour is a 1973 photo of a red light bulb hanging from a red ceiling, a picture devoid of subject matter beyond redness and the associations it triggers.You could almost say the same of a photograph he took the following year of a young woman at a...

Winifred Knights, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Marina Vaizey

Winifred Knights (1899-1947) was an impeccable draughtsman: her portrait drawings are compelling. She deployed fine webs of lines, her sure hand applying gradated pressure resulting in mesmerising studies of people that are hypnotically fascinating. Who knew pencil could do so much? But she was also a painter, a slow worker using techniques that were deliberately old-fashioned.As much of her surviving work as it is possible to retrieve is on view at Dulwich in an act of inspired re-discovery....

Ragnar Kjartansson, Barbican Art Gallery

Sarah Kent

A neon sign over the Barbican’s Silk Street entrance reads Scandinavian Pain. Following its victory over us in Euro 16, it seems that Iceland is now...

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

Florence Hallett

This programme was not ironic, humorous or in any way lighthearted. I’m fairly sure of that, but worry that perhaps I’ve missed the joke.  A...

Les Rencontres d'Arles 2016

Bill Knight

Nous avons Brexité but we are still welcome at the 47th Rencontres d'Arles. Each summer this beautiful French town gives itself over to an...

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

Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

Hugh Pearman

Reality bites: icon buildings abandoned for mass migration and a global housing crisis

theartsdesk in Bilbao: The School of Paris at the Guggenheim Museum

Florence Hallett

Exceptional loans from New York make a familiar story sparkle with life

10 Questions for Photographer Tanya Habjouqa

Thembi Mutch

The award-winning photographer talks about her new book, 'Occupied Pleasures'

Jeff Koons: Now, Newport Street Gallery

Sarah Kent

More is always more when evoking the American Dream

Sunken Cities: Egypt's lost worlds rediscovered


Forgotten for over 1,000 years, eerily evocative treasures take centre stage at the British Museum

Grayson Perry: All Man, Channel 4

Jasper Rees

More whimper than bang as insightful series on modern masculinity ends in the City

The Best of Photo London 2016

Bill Knight

Our very own lensman gives the verdict on the UK's biggest photography fair

Painting with Light, Tate Britain

Florence Hallett

How early photography revolutionised the way that painters saw the world

Six of the best: Art


Our pick of the best exhibitions to see now

Mona Hatoum, Tate Modern

Sarah Kent

The pain of life in exile provides powerful subject matter

Alberto Giacometti, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich

Marina Vaizey

A one-of-a-kind artist gains context and depth surrounded by his contemporaries

John Piper, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

Florence Hallett

Intimately connected to his paintings, the artist's textiles remain mysterious

Sicily: Culture and Conquest, British Museum

Alison Cole

For centuries, invading armies, migrants and merchants have shaped the art of Italy's southern outpost: can an exhibition do it justice?

Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures

Sarah Kent

A fame-obsessed manipulator or a self-effacing observer of the New York gay scene?

James McNeill Whistler: Prints, The Fine Art Society

Marina Vaizey

Master of rendering states and moods revealed in gem of a show

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

Advertising feature


Groundhog Day
The Old Vic
11 July – 17 September
Groundhog Day is the story of Phil Connors (Andy Karl), a cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman who is sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in the isolated small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, when he finds himself caught in a time loop, forced to repeat the same day again and again…and again. As each day plays out exactly the same as before Phil becomes increasingly despondent, but is there a lesson to be learnt through his experiences, will he ever unlock the secret and break the cycle?
Director Matthew Warchus, composer and lyricist Tim Minchin, choreographer Peter Darling and designer Rob Howell, four of the creators of the international sensation Matilda The Musical, have joined forces with writer Danny Rubin to collaborate on this new musical based on his 1993 hit film.
Andy Karl’s numerous Broadway credits include On the Twentieth Century, Rocky, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Jersey Boys, Wicked, 9 to 5, Legally Blonde, The Wedding Singer and Saturday Night Fever.

Andy Karl is appearing with the support of UK Equity, incorporating the Variety Artistes’ Federation, pursuant to an exchange program between American Equity and UK Equity.


Book tickets now!


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

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Bland taste to this breakfast starring Pixie Lott as Holly Golightly

Kommilitonen, Welsh National Youth Opera, Barry

Student opera triumphs over the confusions of audience promenading

Rotterdam, Trafalgar Studios

New drama about a transgender lesbian is hugely enjoyable

Masters of the Pacific Coast: The Tribes of the American Nor...

Fascinating revelations about the rich culture of America's little-kno...

DVD: Mapplethorpe - Look at the Pictures

Definitive account of America's most controversial photographer

The Commune

Thomas Vinterberg gently examines free love's cost in 1970s Copenhagen

Béatrice et Bénédict, Glyndebourne

Vin ordinaire all round in what should be a sparkling caprice

The Plough and the Stars, National Theatre

Revival of Sean O’Casey’s modern classic is relevant, but a bit sombre

CD: Sonzeira – Tam Tam Tam Reimagined

Brilliant re-working of epochal 1950s album

Half A Sixpence, Chichester Festival Theatre

The Tommy Steele musical gets a triumphant, banjo-rehabilitating refresh