tue 21/05/2024

portraits

Sargent and Fashion, Tate Britain review - portraiture as a performance

At the turn of the 20th century, London’s smart set queued up to get their portraits painted by American-born artist John Singer Sargent. Sitting for him was a performance, a way to show the world just how rich, glamorous, clever or important you...

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Mark Rothko, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris review - a show well worth the trip across the Channel

The vast and various spaces of Frank Gehry’s monumental Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris suit the needs of the thrilling Mark Rothko exhibition now inhabiting its labyrinthine multi-storey suite of galleries.Some of the 115 works on display require...

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Jean Cooke: Ungardening, Garden Museum review - a cramped show of airy and spacious paintings

It’s impossible to think about Jean Cooke’s work without taking into account her relationship with her husband, the painter John Bratby, because his controlling personality profoundly affected every aspect of her life.Had it not been for him, she...

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Lucian Freud: New Perspectives, National Gallery review - a powerful punch in the gut

There stands Lucian Freud in Reflection with Two Children (Self-portrait), 1965 (main picture) towering over you, peering mercilessly down. Is that a look of scorn on his face or merely one of detachment? His two kids seem to be squirming and...

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Francis Bacon: Man and Beast, Royal Academy review – a life lived in extremis

Francis Bacon Man and Beast fills most of the main galleries at the Royal Academy. Thankfully, five of the rooms are empty. The exhibition is such a dispiriting experience, I’d have been hollering like a howler monkey if there’d been any more. And...

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Eileen Agar, Whitechapel Gallery review - a free spirit to the end

Eileen Agar was the only woman included in the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936, which introduced London to artists like Salvador Dali and Max Ernst. The Surrealists were exploring the creative potential of chance, chaos and the...

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William Feaver: The Lives of Lucian Freud: Fame 1968-2011 review - mesmerising, exhaustive and obsessively detailed

This is a biography like no other, more or less dictated by Lucian Freud. William Feaver spoke with the artist perhaps almost daily for nearly 40 years, visiting frequently, taking notes, recording, and being shown work in progress. The second...

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My Rembrandt review - hard cash and hubris

In the gloomy splendour of Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire, the 10th Duke of Buccleuch gazes up at Rembrandt’s Old Woman Reading, 1655. The painting has belonged to the Scott family for more than 250 years, and like generations before him, the...

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David Hockney: Drawing from Life, National Portrait Gallery review - an anatomy of love

For David Hockney, drawing is born out of familiarity: his portraits both express and fulfil the urge to know someone deeply and well. In his 60-year career, he has returned again and again to those closest to him, drawing them often enough that...

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The Best Exhibitions in London

 Picasso and Paper, Royal Academy ★★★ A fascinating subject that proves too unwieldy for a single exhibition. Until 13 Apr Rembrandt's Light, Dulwich Picture Gallery ★★★★ A novel collaboration between curators and cinematographer Peter...

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Gauguin Portraits, National Gallery review - me, myself and I

“Gauguin was undoubtedly self-obsessed” begins the National Gallery’s latest dead cert blockbuster, as it cheerfully hijacks a de facto series begun next door at the National Portrait Gallery. Unlike Picasso and Cézanne, Gauguin is not known for his...

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Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, V&A review - appearances aren't everything

When in 2004 Frida Kahlo’s bedroom – sealed on the command of her husband Diego Rivera for 50 years from her death – was opened, a trove of clothes and personal items was discovered. They shed new light on the life of this iconic Mexican...

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