sun 20/04/2014

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

theartsdesk in Basel: More than Minimalism

David Nice

In a near-perfect, outward-looking Swiss city sharing borders with France and Germany, on a series of cloudless April days that felt more like balmy June than capricious April, anything seemed possible. The doors of perception which had slammed, I thought, irrevocably shut for me 45 minutes and four chords in to the first act of Philip Glass’s Satyagraha could well open again in two concerts – London is to get three on a UK tour this week - around the musical Minimalist theme from Dennis...

Deutsche Börse Prize 2014, Photographers' Gallery

Florence Hallett

Not so long ago, photographers were rejoicing in the freedom the digital revolution seemed to bring; unencumbered by the limitations of film, paper and darkroom practice, photography was suddenly liberated from the niggling pedantry of material constraints.So it is in the cyclical nature of things that the photographers shortlisted for this year’s Deutsche Börse Prize all hark back, in some way, to pre-digital image-making, whether in their choice of equipment, technique or subject matter....

Matisse: The Cut-Outs, Tate Modern

Fisun Güner

When it comes to the two vying giants of 20th century art we do – don’t we? – all fall into that cliché of two opposing camps. You have the...

Valie Export and Friedl Kubelka, Richard Saltoun

Sarah Kent

The 1960s art scene in Vienna was dominated by Actionists such as Günther Brus, Otto Muehl and Herman Nitsch, who specialised in iconoclastic...

Alan Davie, 1920-2014

Mark Hudson

Alan Davie, who died on Saturday aged 93, was one of the great 20th-century British artists, a life-long maverick whose explosive canvases cut a...

Six of the best: Art


theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top exhibitions

I Cheer a Dead Man's Sweetheart, De La Warr Pavilion

Mark Sheerin

An exhibition of painting that has no set agenda, no dogma, and is full of bold gestures

Phyllida Barlow: Dock, Tate Britain

Sarah Kent

A joyous celebration of ad hoc creativity fills the Duveen Galleries

Miroslaw Balka, White Cube/ Freud Museum

Florence Hallett

A ham-fisted attempt to summon up memories of the Holocaust by the Polish artist

theartsdesk in Calais: Monument, Musée des Beaux-Arts

Mark Sheerin

Contemporary artists respond to the idea of the monument in remembrance of two world wars

William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, Victoria & Albert Museum

Marina Vaizey

The unrestrained creations of a neo-classicist described as both a genius and preposterous

Cézanne and The Modern, Ashmolean Museum

Fisun Güner

French modernist paintings from an exceptional American collection

Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice, National Gallery

Marina Vaizey

A survey of the Venetian master whose paintings pulsate with a thrilling vitality

Renaissance Impressions, Royal Academy

Florence Hallett

Georg Baselitz’s extraordinary collection of 16th-century woodcut prints

theartsdesk in Bilbao: Yoko Ono at the Guggenheim Museum

Fisun Güner

A fine retrospective of a conceptual artist whose work offers more light and shade than her spoken words

Remembering Derek Jarman

Ron Peck

Memories of a very British film director, 20 years after his death

Georg Baselitz, Gagosian Gallery/British Museum

Fisun Güner

Late self-portraits after de Kooning and early graphic work confronting the legacy of Germany's recent past

Hito Steyerl, ICA

Sarah Kent

Berlin-based artist unravels the complex web of information in which we are caught

theartsdesk in Florence: Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino

Jasper Rees

The Palazzo Strozzi explores the diverging paths of Mannerism. With only one winner

Ruin Lust, Tate Britain

Sarah Kent

Poignant, seductive, melancholic – the thought-provoking power of ruins

theartsdesk at the Marrakech Biennale: "Where Are We Now?"

Mark Sheerin

The bienniale has left its mark on the city, but the artworks still have to compete with the colourful backdrop

Listed: The Vikings - Life and Legend

Gareth Williams

The curator of the British Museum's landmark show picks 10 exhibits that tell the Viking story

The Great War in Portraits, National Portrait Gallery

Florence Hallett

A cleverly curated and incisive exhibition commemorating World War One

Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance, National Gallery

Florence Hallett

The fraught history of the National Gallery's collection of German paintings is put under the spotlight

Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloody­mindedness: Concrete Poetry, BBC Four

Fisun Güner

Provocative, hectoring and loquacious - Jonathan Meades on the architecture people love to hate

The Edwardian Grand Designer, Channel 4

Tom Birchenough

Time Team expands its horizons in tribute to architect Sir Edwin Lutyens

The Brits Who Built the Modern World, BBC Four / The Man Who Fought the Planners, BBC Four

Tom Birchenough

Tales from the starchitects, and a tribute to a brilliant maverick, Ian Nairn

Listed: 10 American paintings before Pollock

Fisun Güner

Did American painting exist before Abstract Expressionism? Not such a daft question if we don't get to see any of it

theartsdesk in the Shetlands: Seasick Vikings

Thembi Mutch

They're about to star at the British Museum. But in Britain's most northerly islands the Vikings are there all year round

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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