thu 18/12/2014

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Hockney

Fisun Güner

Since David Hockney entered his eighth decade (he is now 77), we seem to have witnessed an accelerated output of major exhibitions, biographies and documentaries. The public appetite has never tired of this most tireless of artists, but it’s an interest that’s been given fresh impetus by the exuberance and vivacity of his epic series of paintings of the Yorkshire Wolds. Bruno Wollheim’s TV documentary, Hockney: A Bigger Picture (2009), was a look at this recent period of renewed vigour and...

The Great Museum

Marina Vaizey

I don’t think any of us will look at a museum in quite the same way after this dazzling documentary. For several years the Austrian film-maker Johannes Holzhausen and his team followed what seems to be scores of the working staff  inhabiting Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum (KMH), as they physically cared for the remarkable objects in their care, worried about how best to put them on view for the public, and met continually to discuss museum matters.KMH is one of the world’s most...

Maggi Hambling, National Gallery

Florence Hallett

I must admit to feeling, briefly, just a little disappointed on first sight of Maggi Hambling’s Walls of Water, nine new paintings on show at the...

Conflict, Time, Photography, Tate Modern

Marina Vaizey

This huge exhibition is an awesome and terrifying compilation of photographs of the sites of conflict, and the remnants of wars and conflicts of all...

Sci-Fi Week: Through the eyes of JG Ballard

Fisun Güner

A sci-fi special would be incomplete without the profoundly influential figure of JG Ballard, a writer who, when he began his career in the late...


Marina Vaizey

Randall Wright's documentary reveals the sadness in Bradford's iconic blond

Olga Chernysheva, Pace Gallery

Sarah Kent

A Russian artist who casts an affectionate eye over people going about their business

The Institute of Sexology, Wellcome Collection

Sarah Kent

On the men and women who spent their lives researching sex

Imagine... Anselm Kiefer, BBC One

Florence Hallett

Entertaining but two-dimensional, Alan Yentob's account glosses over the artist's flaws

Gallery: Honoré Daumier and Paula Rego - a conversation across time

Fisun Güner

One was driven by a sense of social injustice, the other by a fascination with stories that hint at psychological disturbance

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014, National Portrait Gallery

Florence Hallett

Affectionate family portraits, subtle references to the history of art, and a worthy winner

Allen Jones, Royal Academy

Sarah Kent

A brilliant painter derailed by an unfortunate obsession

Emily Carr, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Florence Hallett

An exhibition celebrating Canada's unsung modernist

Six of the best: Art


theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top exhibitions

Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude, Courtauld Gallery

Fisun Güner

Erotic, angsty works on paper beguile and bewitch

Giovanni Battista Moroni, Royal Academy

Florence Hallett

Renaissance Italy's forgotten master of the fleeting moment

Imagine... The Art That Hitler Hated, BBC One

Marina Vaizey

What happened to the 'degenerate' art that vanished during the Nazi era?

Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and His Legacy, National Portrait Gallery

Marina Vaizey

An affecting look at the life and impact of the arts and crafts designer who ardently championed socialism

Gerhard Richter, Marian Goodman Gallery

Marina Vaizey

The heavyweight German artist inaugurates prestigious blue-chip gallery in London

Russian Avant-Garde Theatre, Victoria & Albert Museum

Sarah Kent

The moment when theatre was transformed by visionary Russian directors

Grayson Perry: Who Are You?, Channel 4

Jasper Rees

Engaging series about portraiture in action captures subjects at a crossroads

Pierre Huyghe/ Paul McCarthy, Hauser & Wirth

Fisun Güner

Eerie enviromental dystopias and hair-raising misanthropic rages

Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World, Globe Theatre

Sarah Kent

The delightfully shambolic talent show that's become a national treasure

Witches and Wicked Bodies, British Museum

Florence Hallett

From classical antiquity to the Victorian era, witches have held artists under their spell

The spooky and the bold in the art of contemporary China

Mark Sheerin

Asia Triennial Manchester showcases the biggest exhibition of contemporary art from south of the Great Wall

Schama on Rembrandt: Masterpieces of the Late Years, BBC Two

Marina Vaizey

Simon Schama campaigns and entertains, but does he explain?

Richard Serra, Gagosian Gallery

Marina Vaizey

Hardly ever has a heavyweight operated with so light a hand

Germany: Memories of a Nation, British Museum

Marina Vaizey

A staggeringly ambitious and powerful history spanning six centuries and told through objects

Richard Tuttle, Tate Modern / Whitechapel Gallery

Florence Hallett

Renowned American artist revisits old themes in his biggest sculpture yet

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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