thu 05/03/2015

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Inventing Impressionism, National Gallery

Marina Vaizey

Here is an exhibition that tells us how something we now take totally for granted actually came about: how our love affair with the Impressionists was masterminded by an art dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922). He was a prime mover in inventing the way art is dealt with by commercial galleries and even museums, and is credited as the inventor of the modern art market.It is to Durand-Ruel, we discover, that we owe the parade of public retrospective monographic exhibitions devoted to single...

theartsdesk in Calais: Simon Faithfull – To the Bottom of the World and Back

Sarah Kent

The sea is the theme uniting Simon Faithfull’s mid-career retrospective. It makes the port of Calais the perfect host for this splendid exhibition and, to put you in the mood, ideally you should make the crossing by boat. Faithfull spent six days going back and forth, back and forth on the P&O ferry between Dover and Calais. He passed the time – one and a half hours each way – sketching on his iPhone things that caught his eye, including a luggage trolley, a man reading (pictured below...

Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album, Courtauld...

Florence Hallett

The sight of two old women fighting in the street would probably meet with roughly the same response from passers-by whether it happened today or 200...

Sculpture Victorious, Tate Britain

Marina Vaizey

Recent attitudes to Victorian Britain have changed radically. The popular view used to be of a period filled with a kind of smug imperial confidence...

Picasso: Love, Sex and Art, BBC Four

Fisun Güner

So, Picasso’s last words turned out not to be, “Drink to me. Drink to my health. You know I can’t drink anymore” – yes, those famous last words that...

Salt and Silver, Tate Britain

Florence Hallett

Early photographs that brim with the spirit of experimentation

theartsdesk in Moscow: Remembering George Costakis

Tom Birchenough

Moscow pays tribute to the great Greek collector of the Russian avant-garde

Whitworth Art Gallery Reopens with a Meteoric Bang

Marina Vaizey

The Manchester gallery celebrates its past and looks to its future

Sotto Voce, Dominique Lévy

Sarah Kent

With seductive holes and nails hammered in aggressively, white is not as pure as it pretends

Magnificent Obsessions, Barbican Art Gallery

Florence Hallett

Jumble sale or treasure trove? Exploring the collections of 14 postwar and contemporary artists

History is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain, Hayward Gallery

Sarah Kent

Summing up 70 years of British history in one exhibition would never be an easy task

Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, National Portrait Gallery

Marina Vaizey

Tender feeling and empathy pervade the work of this grand master of the swagger portrait

First Happenings: Adrian Henri in the ’60s and ’70s, ICA

Markie Robson-Scott

Love is... the Mersey Sound poet who was really a painter and performance artist

Christian Marclay, White Cube

Sarah Kent

Can the author of the best artist's video ever made maintain that level of excellence?

Self: Image and Identity, Turner Contemporary

Florence Hallett

Is Van Dyck really the father of the self-portrait?

Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden, Tate Modern

Sarah Kent

A living painter who can compete with Manet and make images relevant to today

Rubens and His Legacy, Royal Academy

Florence Hallett

Study of the Old Master's reputation visits a neglected corner of artistic practice

PJ Harvey: Recording in Progress, Artangel at Somerset House

Mark Kidel

The musician in full creative swing: a voyeur’s delight

Quick! Win tickets for the London Art Fair

Fisun Güner

For great British art under one roof

Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915-2015, Whitechapel Gallery

Fisun Güner

An exhibition about how geometric abstraction took over the world loses the plot

National Gallery

Marina Vaizey

Frederick Wiseman's latest documentary is a great work of art

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


Marina Vaizey

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

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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