tue 26/09/2017

Visual Arts Reviews

Jasper Johns, Royal Academy review - a master of 50 shades

marina Vaizey

The Royal Academy has a winning line in spectacular exhibitions that have become essentials in London, theatrically and dramatically revelatory presentations in themselves. Here is another winner, the American star Jasper Johns, a collaboration with the world’s newest gallery of contemporary art, the Broad in Los Angeles.

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Basquiat: Boom for Real, Barbican review - the myth explored

sarah Kent

Beautiful, shy, charming and talented, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a shining star who streaked across the New York skyline for a few brief years in the early 1980s before a heroin overdose claimed his life at the age of only 27. 

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Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell Collection review - guilty pleasures at the National Gallery

Florence Hallett

If only a modest fuss is being made about the rare and prestigious loan currently residing in Trafalgar Square, it could be that the National Gallery is keen to forget the role of its former director, Dr Nicholas Penny, in a row about art transportation that centred on the very collection to which these objects belong.

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Rachel Whiteread, Tate Britain review – exceptional beauty

sarah Kent

The gallery walls of Tate Britain have been taken down so turning a warren of interlinking rooms into a large, uncluttered space in which Rachel Whiteread’s sculptures are arranged as a single installation. What a challenge! And curators Ann Gallagher and Linsey Young are to be congratulated for pulling off this difficult feat so seamlessly. 

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James Hamilton: Gainsborough - A Portrait review - an artistic life told with verve and enthusiasm

marina Vaizey

James Hamilton’s wholly absorbing biography is very different from the usual kind of art historical study that often surrounds such a major figure as Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788).

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Matisse in the Studio, Royal Academy review - a fascinating compilation

marina Vaizey

A 19th-century silver and wood pot in which to make chocolate, pertly graceful; 17th-century blue and white Delftware; a Chinese calligraphy panel; a 19th-century carved wooden god from the Ivory Coast; a bronze and gold earth goddess from South-East Asia. These are but a tiny sampling from the multitude of objects with which Matisse surrounded himself in his studio(s).

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Trajal Harrell: Hoochie Koochie, Barbican review - flamboyant and mesmerising

sarah Kent

Two performers rush down the stairs and sweep through the audience, their designer outfits splaying out as they speed elegantly around the gallery and disappear as quickly as they came. Thus begins a series of performances that are an intriguing mix of flamboyant narcissism and minimalist restraint. 

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Rose Finn-Kelcey: Life, Belief and Beyond, Modern Art Oxford review - revelation and delight

sarah Kent

Rose Finn-Kelcey was one of the most interesting and original artists of her generation. Yet when she died in 2014 at the age of 69, she could have disappeared from view if she not spent the last few years of her life assembling a monograph about her work.

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The Encounter, National Portrait Gallery review - dazzlingly evocative drawings

Florence Hallett

As a line flows or falters, registering each slight change in pressure, pause, or occasional reworking, it seems to offer a glimpse into the mind of the artist at work. The line is the instrument of the artist’s eye, the often unpolished, provisional nature of a drawing offering a spark and freshness that tends to gradually lessen as a composition is rethought and worked up in paint.

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theartsdesk in Antwerp: Richard Deacon says nothing

Mark Sheerin

Something like a parked zeppelin sits on three mirrored legs on a museum lawn in Belgium. It’s a cigar-shaped steel fabrication that, were it to float free of its three legs, could also pass for a UFO. But given the context - a sculpture park outside Antwerp - we can rest easy. Never Mind is a work of art by Richard Deacon.

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