wed 29/03/2017

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Paula Rego: Secrets and Stories review - 'in pictures you can let all your rage out'

Sarah Kent

“My mother has always been a bit of a mystery to me not only as an artist but also as a mum,” declares Nick Willing by way of introduction to his film for BBC Two on the painter Paula Rego, who turned 82 in January. What follows is as far removed from a traditional biopic as you could hope to find. 

Artist Tyler Mallison: 'I don’t think about materials as being merely visible objects or things'

Mark Sheerin

Artist and curator Tyler Mallison has chosen the world’s most generic title for his current exhibition. It's called New Material, and the surprising thing one discovers is that the hackneyed "new" really can be quite fresh. Sculpture and painting comprise display units, work desks, gym equipment, packing tape and whitewash.

Fourth Plinth: How London Created the Smallest...

Grayson Perry

I have always felt very lucky to have been working as an artist in London during the period when it transformed into the capital of the art world. It...

French Touch, Red Gallery

Kieron Tyler

Un Voyage Á Travers Dans Le Paysage Électronique Français, the French subtitle, goes further. French Touch is the first exhibition to celebrate and...

Michelangelo & Sebastiano, National Gallery

Florence Hallett

The story of two characters whose friendship ended in bitter enmity is juicy enough for a typical spring blockbuster and yet this is an exhibition...

The American Dream: Pop to the Present, British Museum

Marina Vaizey

Sixty years of print-making makes for a thrilling all-American portrait

thertsdesk in Oslo: Mozart beneath a Munch sun

David Nice

A great Norwegian pianist and a live-wire chamber orchestra collaborate with fresh results

The Best Exhibitions in London


David Hockney, Depression-era America, the British in Italy: our favourite shows to see now

Madonnas and Miracles: The Holy Home in Renaissance Italy, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Alison Cole

Lovely, scholarly, multi-sensory insight into domestic Italy 500 years ago

Bruegel, Holburne Museum, Bath

Florence Hallett

A distinguished artistic lineage explored through one of the country's finest collections

Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun, National Portrait Gallery

Sarah Kent

Gender and identity explored by artists born 70 years apart

Deutsche Börse/Roger Mayne, Photographers' Gallery

Bill Knight

Mid-century street photography rubs shoulders with this year's prize shortlist

Vanessa Bell, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Marina Vaizey

The Bloomsbury painter whose life outshone her art

America After the Fall, Royal Academy

Alison Cole

Revelatory portrayal of the artistic response to the Great Depression

Listed: How I Do Love Thee


Let theartsdesk count the ways with our romantic favourites from all over the arts

Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932, Royal Academy

Sarah Kent

An exhibition of Russian art purged of the artists who promoted the revolution

Sunday Book: Philip Hook - Rogues' Gallery

Florence Hallett

An insider spills the beans on the murky world of art dealing

David Hockney, Tate Britain

Alison Cole

Blockbuster to mark the artist's 80th birthday has Los Angeles light and Yorkshire warmth

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

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

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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