fri 24/02/2017

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

America After the Fall, Royal Academy

Alison Cole

It may be a cliché to say that this is a “timely” exhibition, but America After the Fall invites irresistible parallels with Trump’s America of today.

Listed: How I Do Love Thee


Love is in the air. Today, men and women and boys and girls will be pondering how to say it with roses and cards and candlelit dinners: those three words that contain multitudes. As the old strip cartoon never quite got round to saying, love is... the human condition, which is why a good quantity of the culture we review on this site has to do with it. To help you get into the mood for romancing, we have asked our writers to identify something - anything - in the arts that embodies the L word....

Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932, Royal Academy

Sarah Kent

This must be the most depressing exhibition I have ever seen. Dedicated to the leaders of the Russian Revolution, the first room features official...

Sunday Book: Philip Hook - Rogues' Gallery

Florence Hallett

The art dealers of today must be thanking their lucky stars that Philip Hook’s remarkable history of their trade stops where it does. For while it...

David Hockney, Tate Britain

Alison Cole

As the UK prepares for a particularly severe cold snap, the opening of David Hockney’s major retrospective at Tate Britain brings a welcome burst of...

Michael Andrews, Gagosian Gallery

Marina Vaizey

A new old master of modern art has been revealed

Francis Bacon: A Brush with Violence, BBC Two

Adam Sweeting

Portrait of the artist as disaster area

Lubaina Himid, Modern Art Oxford and Spike Island, Bristol

Sarah Kent

A major talent revealed in a joint retrospective at Oxford and Bristol

Terrains of the Body, Whitechapel Gallery

Sarah Kent

Exhibition of works by 17 female artists is fascinating but badly organised

The Best Exhibitions in London


From Elton's collection to Australia's Impressionists, theartsdesk's favourite shows on now

Lockwood Kipling, Victoria & Albert Museum

Marina Vaizey

Not just Rudyard's father: treasures from India evoke the life of an eminent Victorian

Photo Gallery: Aberdeenshire Sand Dunes


These elegiac images of outstanding natural beauty have since been trumped

War in the Sunshine, Estorick Collection

Clem Hitchcock

Rediscovered paintings and photographs show wartorn Italy through British eyes

Gavin Turk, Newport Street Gallery

Sarah Kent

He poses as Sid Vicious, Elvis, Warhol and Pollock. Will the real Gavin Turk stand up?

Australia's Impressionists, National Gallery

Marina Vaizey

The visual discoveries of France applied in the open landscapes of a young nation

John Berger: the critic as artist

Florence Hallett

Remembering the influential and radical thinker who has died aged 90

Best of 2016: Art

Florence Hallett

A handful of new galleries, British modernism revived and old masters revisited

Sunday Book: Treasure Palaces - Great Writers Visit Great Museums

Florence Hallett

First kisses and favourite dolls: a collection of memories to dip into

Zaha Hadid, Serpentine Gallery

Sarah Kent

A visionary architect who developed her ideas in paintings and drawings

Robert Rauschenberg, Tate Modern

Marina Vaizey

Inventive and idiosyncratic: the restless genius of an American pioneer

Painters’ Painters, Saatchi Gallery

Sarah Kent

An invigorating look at a medium that not only refuses to die, but invites continual reinvention

'Before punk, there was Rauschenberg'

Justin Adams

As a major retrospective opens at Tate Modern, musician and producer Justin Adams reflects on his lifelong love of an American great

Portrait of the Artist, The Queen's Gallery

Marina Vaizey

A rich history of art through painters' eyes

Flaming June, Leighton House Museum

Florence Hallett

Reunited with the artist's final works, a painting rarely seen but endlessly reproduced

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016, National Portrait Gallery

Bill Knight

The judges have sifted through thousands of entries from across the world: we get a photographer's verdict on this year's competition

The Radical Eye, Tate Modern

Sarah Kent

The passion of Elton John: a first-class collection in private hands

Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans, Royal Academy

Marina Vaizey

A treat full of trickery: Belgium's master of the grotesque through the eyes of a fellow countryman

Bowie/Collector, Sotheby's

Alison Cole

From Tintoretto to Basquiat, a connoisseur's collection goes on show then on sale

Paul Nash, Tate Britain

Florence Hallett

Key themes recur, but the visionary landscape painter experimented constantly

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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