fri 30/01/2015

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Rubens and His Legacy, Royal Academy

Florence Hallett

What does it mean to be a great artist? Is it enough for your work to be admired, studied, emulated and quoted by contemporaries and subsequent generations, or is the value of art judged by a more complex set of criteria? By considering the extent of Rubens’ influence on artists from Rembrandt to Klimt, the Royal Academy is having a go at skinning a very old and troublesome cat: the elevation of Rubens from gifted confectioner to worthy Old Master.In examining why Rubens should be given a place...

PJ Harvey: Recording in Progress, Artangel at Somerset House

Mark Kidel

Artangel continues to instigate extraordinary events in extraordinary places. Over the past two decades and more, directors Michael Morris and James Lingwood have helped generate major and ground-breaking work by Rachel Whiteread, Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson, Roni Horn, Jeremy Deller, Steve McQueen, Matthew Barney, Gregor Schneider, Francis Alÿs and many others. It's a long list. Their latest collaboration with PJ Harvey is no less thought-provoking and inspiring than the best of their unique...

Quick! Win tickets for the London Art Fair

Fisun Güner

Whether you’re interested in buying, just looking or attending one of the many talks and events, the London Art Fair is the place to be over the next...

Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and...

Fisun Güner

From an apparently simple idea stems a very confusing exhibition. Here’s the idea: taking the seminal black square painted by Russian artist Kazimir...

National Gallery

Marina Vaizey

The octogenarian Frederick Wiseman is a cult documentary film maker, with his own idiosyncratic and recognisable idiom. He has both vast experience...

Rubens: An Extra Large Story, BBC Two

Marina Vaizey

Imperfect portrait of the artist as 'the Henry Kissinger of his day'

Best of 2014: Art

Fisun Güner

It was a year of remembrance - so who were the artists we couldn't forget?

DVD: Hockney

Fisun Güner

An affectionate but not entirely satisfactory portrait of the artist

The Great Museum

Marina Vaizey

From politicians to polar bears, unexpected insights behind the scenes

Maggi Hambling, National Gallery

Florence Hallett

A recent body of work tells of the painter's craft and the stormy Suffolk coast

Conflict, Time, Photography, Tate Modern

Marina Vaizey

A powerful exhibition that takes the long view on the aftermath of war

Sci-Fi Week: Through the eyes of JG Ballard

Fisun Güner

The writer was profoundly influenced by art and in turn influenced artists

Hockney

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

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

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.

Close Footnote

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

latest in today

Jessie J, Eventim Apollo

Magnificently garish live show is constantly on the edge of sensory overloa...

Fortitude, Sky Atlantic

Love, death and monsters in the Arctic Circle

Timeshift: Battle for the Himalayas, BBC Four

The remarkable story of Everest on film highlights John Noel's restore...

Trash

Director Stephen Daldry's three unknowns save the day

Di and Viv and Rose, Vaudeville Theatre

Frank, funny and deeply felt meditation on defining friendships

Florian Boesch, Roger Vignoles, Wigmore Hall

An extraordinary musical adventure in the Austrian Alps

Grim Fandango Remastered

A classic point-and-click adventure returns – but is the past another count...

Blu-ray: Bad Timing

Obsession in Vienna with Art Garfunkel and Theresa Russell

The Hard Problem, National Theatre

Minor Stoppard that never fully melds head and heart

Onegin, Royal Ballet

Cranko's adaptation of Pushkin offers plenty of character and intrigue