sun 25/09/2022

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Winslow Homer: Force of Nature, National Gallery review - dump the symbolism and enjoy the drama

Sarah Kent

Across the pond Winslow Homer is a household name; in his day, he was regarded as the greatest living American painter. He was renowned especially for his seascapes and his most famous painting, The Gulf Stream, 1899/1906 (main picture) features in the National Gallery’s retrospective.

Carolee Schneeman: Body Politics, Barbican review - challenging, in-your-face and messy

Sarah Kent

Life is messy and so is Carolee Schneeman’s work. She wanted it that way. Breaking down the barriers between art and life, between inhabiting a woman’s body and using it as primal material, was a key objective.

Germany / The 1920s / New Objectivity / August...

Juliette Bretan

The businessman in Heinrich Maria Davringhausen’s Der Schieber (The Profiteer), 1920-1921 sits several floors above the city streets, pencil in hand...

Gustav Metzger: Earth Minus Environment, Kestle...

Mark Hudson

In later life Gustav Metzger appeared a marginal, eccentric figure. The diminutive, white-bearded artist, was often to be seen round London’s...

Milton Avery: American Colourist, Royal Academy...

Sarah Kent

I’ve always been bemused by the American painter, Milton Avery. Not having seen enough of his paintings together, I couldn’t gauge if they are...

Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War review - a lovingly crafted documentary portrait

Saskia Baron

In love and war: one of England's great watercolourists reappraised

Vivian Maier: Anthology, MK Gallery review - what an amazing eye!

Sarah Kent

The brilliance of an amateur photographer who was almost lost to the world

Venice Biennale 2022 review - The Milk of Dreams Part 2: The Arsenale

Mark Hudson

This wildly ambitious mega-exhibition unravels in spectacular style

In the Air, Wellcome Collection review - art in an emergency

Mark Sheerin

History, politics and poetry abound in a show offering inspiration and agitation

Whitstable Biennale review - a breath of fresh air

Sarah Kent

From philosophising to crab creatures, a festival programme themed around 'Afterwardness'

10 Questions for art historian and fiction writer Chloë Ashby

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

On sights, acts of seeing and book 'Wet paint', inspired by Manet’s 'A Bar at the Folies-Bergère'

Venice Biennale 2022 review - The Milk of Dreams Part 1: The Giardini

Mark Hudson

The biggest and most challenging exhibition you’ll be seeing in some time

Cornelia Parker, Tate Britain review – divine intelligence

Sarah Kent

The most interesting artist of our time

Walter Sickert, Tate Britain review - all the world's a stage

Sarah Kent

The artist as voyeur

Ming Smith: A Dream Deferred, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery review - snapping the Blues

Bill Knight

Previously unseen "overpainted photographs" take pride of place

Ali Cherri: If you prick us, do we not bleed?, National Gallery review - cabinets of curiosity

Sarah Kent

Can damage ever be life enhancing?

Pionnières: Artistes dans le Paris des années folles, Musée du Luxembourg, Paris review - thrilling and slightly flawed

Mark Kidel

Revealing survey of women artists in 1920s Paris

Surrealism Beyond Borders, Tate Modern review - a disappointing mish mash

Sarah Kent

Too many followers, too few originators

Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945-65, Barbican review - revelations galore

Sarah Kent

Angst-ridden art that defines an era

A Century of the Artist's Studio, Whitechapel Gallery review - a voyeur's delight

Sarah Kent

The desire to peek behind the scenes is satisfied, delightfully

Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child, Hayward Gallery review - the wife, the mistress, the daughter and the art that came out of it

Sarah Kent

Reclaiming the past through old clothes and other memorabilia

America in Crisis, Saatchi Gallery review - a country in jeopardy

Sarah Kent

Political upheaval in America, 1969 and 2021

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

Sarah Kent

From raw emotion to elegant displays of self loathing

Paula Rego: The Forgotten, Victoria Miro review - relentless focus

Jack Barron

A selection of later work is more than a coda to Tate's recent retrospective

Best of 2021: Visual Arts


Our highlights of the year just gone

Anselm Kiefer Pour Paul Celan, Grand Palais Éphémère, Paris review - an installation of rare profundity

Mark Kidel

Anselm Kiefer's spectacular homage to the poet Paul Celan

Kehinde Wiley, National Gallery review - more than meets the eye

Sarah Kent

From Soho to the snowbound emptiness of Norway in winter

The Courtauld Gallery - the old place, just better

Florence Hallett

After a three-year redevelopment, one of the UK's finest galleries is better than ever

Lubaina Himid, Tate Modern review – more explication please

Sarah Kent

A carnival of characters looking forwards as well as backwards

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

Advertising feature

Download British Museum gallery introductions to your device


From Egyptian mummies and ancient Greek sculpture to African art and Chinese porcelain, you can now download more than 60 gallery introductions directly to your phone, tablet or other device.

These short audio tracks (2–3 minutes), narrated by British Museum curators, can help you prepare for your visit, or can also be enjoyed at home.

Download now and skip the queue for our sell-out audio guides when you visit the Museum.

Available in English, Korean, Chinese, Spanish and Italian.

download from iTunes
download from Google Play

Sponsored by Korean Air


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

Gurrelieder, LPO, Gardner, RFH review – everything in place,...

Schoenberg’s “Song of the Wood Dove” takes up a mere 11 of the 100 minutes of his epic Gurrelieder, though it’s a crucial narrative of...

Music Reissues Weekly: Bill Nelson's Red Noise - Art /...

The British music weeklies were clear about where the Sound-On-Sound LP and its singles fitted into the current musical topography when...

theartsdesk at Musikfest Berlin - orchestral and choral rain...

In its three weeks of world-class events, Muskfest Berlin has...

Am I Being Unreasonable?, BBC One review - comedy thriller d...

In case you're not au fait with Mumsnet, the title of Daisy May Cooper's follow-up...

The Wonderful World of Dissocia, Theatre Royal Stratford Eas...

Lisa has lost an hour in a (somewhat contrived) temporal glitch. As a consequence, her world is always sliding off-kilter, not quite...

Juniper review - a classic role for Charlotte Rampling

Juniper provides, above all, an absolutely unforgettable role for Charlotte Rampling....

Album: Gabriels - Angels & Queens, Part I

Lauded by Elton John (who called their 2020 debut EP Love and Hate in a Different Time “probably one of the most seminal records I've...

'The first thing I do when I wake up is write.' Hi...

Hilary Mantel, who has died at the age of 70, was a maker of literary history. Wolf Hall, an action-packed 650-page brick of a book...

theartsdesk Q&A: Abel Selaocoe

South-African cellist Abel Selaocoe is about to begin his third major concert in London in under a year. As the support artist for...