sat 28/03/2015

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

10 Questions for Artist Marcus Coates

Thomas H Green

Marcus Coates (b. 1968) is an artist who specialises in projects that involve the natural world. Graduating from the Royal Academy School in the early Nineties, by the millennium he was attracting attention for filmed art events that were both eccentric and thought-provoking. These included Goshawk (1999), wherein Coates was suspended in a pine tree so that he might view the world as a bird of prey, the self-explanatory Sparrow Hawk Bait (1999), where he ran through a wood with his head covered...

Defining Beauty: The Body in Ancient Greek Art, British Museum

Fisun Güner

We think we know it when we see it. But how, pray, do we define beauty? The ancient Greeks thought they had the measure of it. In the 4th century BC, the “chief forms of beauty,” according to Aristotle, were “order, symmetry and clear delineation.” A century earlier, during the golden age of Athens, Polykleitos, one of the ancient world’s greatest sculptors, set out the precise ratios for the ideal male form in a treatise he called The Canon. And a century before him, Pythagoras instructed that...

Wellington: Triumphs, Politics and Passions,...

Marina Vaizey

One masterpiece and two superb portraits both dominate and sum up in vivid fashion the complex personality, long life and astonishing trajectory of...

Joshua Reynolds, Wallace Collection

Florence Hallett

The grand but domestic setting of Hertford House, home of the Wallace Collection, makes a fitting backdrop to an exhibition of paintings by Joshua...

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Victoria &...

Sarah Kent

Alexander McQueen designed some dresses to die for. Dominating a wood-panelled room dedicated to Romantic Nationalism, in acknowledgement of his...

Richard Diebenkorn, Royal Academy

Fisun Güner

One of the greats of postwar American painting in a breathtaking survey

Gift Horse, Fourth Plinth

Fisun Güner

An equine skeleton with connections to the City takes up residence in Trafalgar Square

Inventing Impressionism, National Gallery

Marina Vaizey

A fresh take: the commercial story behind the success of an avant-garde movement

theartsdesk in Calais: Simon Faithfull – To the Bottom of the World and Back

Sarah Kent

Online messages sent from elsewhere by an artist who loves the sea

Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album, Courtauld Gallery

Florence Hallett

Enigmatic works on paper, reunited for the first time since the Spanish artist's death

Sculpture Victorious, Tate Britain

Marina Vaizey

Technical innovation often coupled with meaningless extravagance

Picasso: Love, Sex and Art, BBC Four

Fisun Güner

Picasso's women and the role they played in his work

Salt and Silver, Tate Britain

Florence Hallett

Early photographs that brim with the spirit of experimentation

theartsdesk in Moscow: Remembering George Costakis

Tom Birchenough

Moscow pays tribute to the great Greek collector of the Russian avant-garde

Whitworth Art Gallery Reopens with a Meteoric Bang

Marina Vaizey

The Manchester gallery celebrates its past and looks to its future

Sotto Voce, Dominique Lévy

Sarah Kent

With seductive holes and nails hammered in aggressively, white is not as pure as it pretends

Magnificent Obsessions, Barbican Art Gallery

Florence Hallett

Jumble sale or treasure trove? Exploring the collections of 14 postwar and contemporary artists

History is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain, Hayward Gallery

Sarah Kent

Summing up 70 years of British history in one exhibition would never be an easy task

Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, National Portrait Gallery

Marina Vaizey

Tender feeling and empathy pervade the work of this grand master of the swagger portrait

First Happenings: Adrian Henri in the ’60s and ’70s, ICA

Markie Robson-Scott

Love is... the Mersey Sound poet who was really a painter and performance artist

Christian Marclay, White Cube

Sarah Kent

Can the author of the best artist's video ever made maintain that level of excellence?

Self: Image and Identity, Turner Contemporary

Florence Hallett

Is Van Dyck really the father of the self-portrait?

Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden, Tate Modern

Sarah Kent

A living painter who can compete with Manet and make images relevant to today

Rubens and His Legacy, Royal Academy

Florence Hallett

Study of the Old Master's reputation visits a neglected corner of artistic practice

PJ Harvey: Recording in Progress, Artangel at Somerset House

Mark Kidel

The musician in full creative swing: a voyeur’s delight

Quick! Win tickets for the London Art Fair

Fisun Güner

For great British art under one roof

Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915-2015, Whitechapel Gallery

Fisun Güner

An exhibition about how geometric abstraction took over the world loses the plot

National Gallery

Marina Vaizey

Frederick Wiseman's latest documentary is a great work of art

Rubens: An Extra Large Story, BBC Two

Marina Vaizey

Imperfect portrait of the artist as 'the Henry Kissinger of his day'

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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