thu 25/08/2016

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

theartsdesk at the Rosendal Festival: Schubert above a fjord

David Nice

More than just a great and serious pianist, Leif Ove Andsnes is a Mensch. His special gift in recent years has been to bring young musicians just establishing their careers together with star players like himself in beautiful and/or interesting places. I feel privileged to have heard him and his juniors in a programme of rare Sibelius melodramas in Bergen, Kurtág and Liszt in the main room of Grieg's humble home at Troldhaugen, and two shared recitals linked to the revelatory exhibition of...

Colour, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Florence Hallett

It is sobering to think that the medieval and Renaissance paintings that fill our galleries represent just a fraction of the artistic output of that period. Panel paintings – not to mention exquisitely fragile wall paintings – have for the most part succumbed to the ravages of time, and those not destroyed by fire or flood, acts of war or vandalism, or abortive attempts at restoration have simply faded, darkened or discoloured.Safely tucked away in libraries, illuminated manuscripts have...

Stubbs and the Wild, Holburne Museum, Bath

Marina Vaizey

A gorgeous white horse with flowing mane, poised and alert in a rocky landscape next to a watchful lion, is an extraordinary study of suppressed...

William Eggleston Portraits, National Portrait...

Sarah Kent

American photographer William Eggleston is famous for dedicating himself to colour photography at a time when it was still considered kitsch –...

Winifred Knights, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Marina Vaizey

Winifred Knights (1899-1947) was an impeccable draughtsman: her portrait drawings are compelling. She deployed fine webs of lines, her sure hand...

Ragnar Kjartansson, Barbican Art Gallery

Sarah Kent

Fact and fiction coalesce in work by an artist born into an acting dynasty

The Banker's Guide to the Art Market, BBC Four

Florence Hallett

Not comedy, not documentary and offering some very poor advice

Les Rencontres d'Arles 2016

Bill Knight

Our man in France guides us through the highlights of the world-famous photo festival

Georgia O’Keeffe, Tate Modern

Sarah Kent

Defined by sexual readings of her flowers and other paintings, the American modernist gets a much-needed retrospective

Art Night London

Florence Hallett

The first edition of the capital's annual all-night art festival brought light in dark times

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life, Royal Academy

Alison Cole

An ongoing series of portraits has served as a tonic during difficult times, but its value is more personal than artistic

Painters' Paintings, National Gallery

Marina Vaizey

A glimpse inside artists' collections offers fresh insight into their own work

The Switch House, Tate Modern

Marina Vaizey

Magnificent new extension has light and space enough for new art and new visitors

Alex Katz, Serpentine Gallery

Sarah Kent

An oh-so-cool response to the outpourings of Abstract Expressionism

Whitstable Biennale 2016

Mark Sheerin

Kent's festival of art has grown up, but it hasn't lost its spark

Yayoi Kusama, Victoria Miro

Marina Vaizey

Japan's queen of spots reigns in the garden of the imagination

Found, The Foundling Museum

Sarah Kent

Geldof’s rubbish and Hendrix's staircase: history, memory and the value of things

Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

Hugh Pearman

Reality bites: icon buildings abandoned for mass migration and a global housing crisis

theartsdesk in Bilbao: The School of Paris at the Guggenheim Museum

Florence Hallett

Exceptional loans from New York make a familiar story sparkle with life

10 Questions for Photographer Tanya Habjouqa

Thembi Mutch

The award-winning photographer talks about her new book, 'Occupied Pleasures'

Jeff Koons: Now, Newport Street Gallery

Sarah Kent

More is always more when evoking the American Dream

Sunken Cities: Egypt's lost worlds rediscovered


Forgotten for over 1,000 years, eerily evocative treasures take centre stage at the British Museum

Grayson Perry: All Man, Channel 4

Jasper Rees

More whimper than bang as insightful series on modern masculinity ends in the City

The Best of Photo London 2016

Bill Knight

Our very own lensman gives the verdict on the UK's biggest photography fair

Painting with Light, Tate Britain

Florence Hallett

How early photography revolutionised the way that painters saw the world

Six of the best: Art


Photography, Old Masters, and a forgotten modernist: our top exhibitions this summer

Mona Hatoum, Tate Modern

Sarah Kent

The pain of life in exile provides powerful subject matter

Alberto Giacometti, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich

Marina Vaizey

A one-of-a-kind artist gains context and depth surrounded by his contemporaries

John Piper, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

Florence Hallett

Intimately connected to his paintings, the artist's textiles remain mysterious

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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Belarus Free Theatre presents


Wed 31 Aug - Sat 24 Sep 2016, 7.15pm (2.30pm Sat matinees)

Soho Theatre

Tickets from £10


Belarus Free Theatre combine forces with Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina to share stories of persecuted artists, living under dictatorship, who will not be silenced.


What happens when you are declared an enemy of the state simply for making art? Where do you belong when your government suppresses your basic right to expression? And how do you survive in one of the most brutal prison systems in the world?


This brand new production blends sensuous theatricality and vigorous physicality to shine a light on the suppression of artistic freedoms. Drawn from the real-life stories of Russian performance artist Petr Pavlensky, incarcerated Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and Maria Alyokhina, who makes her stage debut.


One of the bravest and most inspired underground troupes on the planet.’ New York Times


‘For the BFT, political theatre is not a genre, but a necessity.’ Vanity Fair


Created in partnership with ArtReach as part of Journeys Festival International; Co-commissioned by Art Centre Melbourne. Funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.


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