sun 28/05/2017

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Highlights from Photo London 2017 - virtual reality meets vintage treasure

Bill Knight

At heart, Photo London is a selling fair for expensive photographic prints. You wander through the steamy labyrinth of Somerset House from gallery show to gallery show surrounded by black-clad snapperati, assaulted on all sides by images until lost in photography.

Visual art at Brighton Festival - disturbing, playful, but ultimately rudderless

Mark Sheerin

As befits a festival with a spoken word artist as its guest curator, storytelling is at the heart of the visual arts offer in the 2017 Brighton Festival. It is not known if performance poet Kate Tempest had a hand in commissioning these four shows, but she can probably relate to the four artists in town right now.

57th Venice Biennale review - riveting and...

Alison Cole

Riveting and bewildering, the 57th Venice Biennale has just opened its myriad doors to the public with several thousand exhibits spread across Venice...

Canaletto & the Art of Venice, The Queen...

Florence Hallett

Even today, the perception of Venice as a city only half-rooted in mundane reality owes a great deal to Canaletto (1697-1768), an artist who made his...

Alberto Giacometti, Tate Modern

Marina Vaizey

Chain-smoking and charismatic, the painter, sculptor, draughtsman and printmaker Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) lived much of his life in Paris from...

Picasso: Minotaurs and Matadors, Gagosian

Alison Cole

Bullish Picasso still fascinates in Sir John Richardson’s richly curated show

The Best Exhibitions in London


Giacometti, Picasso, Pink Floyd and more: our favourite shows to see now

Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains, V&A review – from innocence to experience and beyond

Adam Sweeting

Brilliantly inventive exhibition revisits a half-century of the Floyd

theartsdesk at The Hospital Club


Announcing a new partnership with the most creative club in London

Richard Long: Earth Sky, Houghton Hall

Florence Hallett

The sculptor uses English materials to take over an 18th-century estate in Norfolk

Chris Ofili, National Gallery

Florence Hallett

Weaving with water: a tribute to Trinidad, the Old Masters and Mario Balotelli

Queer British Art 1861-1967, Tate Britain

David Nice

A vital selective history in images, but is much of it great art - and does it matter?

Michelangelo's Madonna and Child

Alison Cole

Why the Taddei Tondo, on loan to the National Gallery's Michelangelo & Sebastiano exhibition, makes the perfect Easter image

Geta Bratescu, Camden Arts Centre

Sarah Kent

A one-woman riot: the Romanian artist who has come in from the cold

Giacomo Balla: Designing the Future, Estorick Collection

Alison Cole

Futurism, fashion and flair: works from the Biagiotti Cigna Collection

Brighton Festival 2017: 12 Free Events

Thomas H Green

Brighton Festival CEO Andrew Comben's guide to this year's best free stuff

DVD: Revolution - New Art for a New World

Sarah Kent

Margy Kinmonth goes in search of the art that launched the Russian Revolution

Road Art: Art's wildest frontier


Street art is so last millennium. All the signs are that road art is the next big thing

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

Sarah Kent

The artist who talks freely about her marriage, but not the following 30 years

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

Mark Sheerin

Technology as material, Madonna as muse: the artist talks about the themes shaping his current exhibition

Fourth Plinth: How London Created the Smallest Sculpture Park in the World

Grayson Perry

Celebrating Trafalgar Square's infamous empty plinth, and its role in changing attitudes to contemporary art

French Touch, Red Gallery

Kieron Tyler

Ground-breaking exhibition digs into the history of French electronic music

Michelangelo & Sebastiano, National Gallery

Florence Hallett

Exceptional loans redeem poor display in a tale of two Renaissance masters

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

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

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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