Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews
Pop went the easel, and more, as we were offered a worldwide tour – New York, LA, London, Paris, Shanghai – of the art phenomenon of the past 50 years (still going strong worldwide). We were led by a wide-eyed interlocutor, the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Alastair Sooke, to the throbbing beat of – what else? – pop music, Elvis and much else besides.Sooke protested a bit too much, doing down the previous big deal in modern art, Abstract Expressionism, in order to enhance the revolutionary...
Polo played in surplus First World War tanks; zeppelin-shooting as a gentlemanly leisure pursuit; the mighty vessel RMS Tyrannic, proud host of the Grand Ballroom Chariot Race and so safe "that she carries no insurance". These are just some of Canadian satirical writer and artist Bruce McCall’s ingenious retro-futurist creations. Slyly merging meticulous realism and madcap fantasy, they depict – with parodic faux-nostalgia – a world that never quite existed in order to comment on the one that...
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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