fri 28/02/2020

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

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

Florence Hallett

For David Hockney, drawing is born out of familiarity: his portraits both express and fulfil the urge to know someone deeply and well.

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography, Barbican review – a must-see exhibition

Sarah Kent

The exhibition starts on the Barbican’s lift doors, which are emblazoned with photographs from the show. They include one of my all-time favourites: Herb Ritts’s Fred with Tyres 1984 (pictured below right), a fashion shoot of a young body builder posing as a garage mechanic, in greasy overalls. Despite his powerful muscles, he looks tired and petulant.

Steve McQueen, Tate Modern review – films that...

Sarah Kent

The screen is filled with the head and shoulders of a man lying on his back; he could be dead in the morgue or lying on the analyst’s couch. He doesn...

Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium,...

Sarah Kent

“From today, painting is dead.” These melodramatic words were uttered by French painter, Paul Delaroche on seeing a photograph for the first time....

Darren Waterston: Filthy Lucre, V&A review -...

Sarah Kent

It looks as if vandals have ransacked Whistler's Peacock Room. The famous interior was commissioned in the 1870s by shipping magnate, Frederick...

Imran Perretta, Chisenhale Gallery review - a deeply affecting film

Sarah Kent

Testament of growing up in London as a young Muslim arouses enormous empathy

Picasso and Paper, Royal Academy review - the most versatile of materials

Florence Hallett

A fascinating subject that proves too unwieldy for a single exhibition

The Best Exhibitions in London


The best exhibitions on now

Best of 2019: Visual Arts

Florence Hallett

The exhibitions we loved most over the past 12 months

Caravaggio & Bernini, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna - high emotion in 17th century Rome

Florence Hallett

Painting and sculpture vie for supremacy in the eternal city

Dora Maar, Tate Modern review - how women disappear

Katherine Waters

Stunning photographs and fabulous photomontages by overlooked and elusive artist

Eco-Visionaries, Royal Academy review - wakey, wakey!

Sarah Kent

Big issues raised, but not answered

Charlotte Salomon: Life? or Theatre?, Jewish Museum London review - rallying against death

Katherine Waters

Set aside time to absorb the stunning work of this modernist painter murdered at Auschwitz

Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, Saatchi Gallery review - worth its weight?

Katherine Waters

Blockbuster artefacts in show that cares more about visitor numbers than visitor experience

George Stubbs: 'all done from Nature', MK Gallery review - a glorious menagerie

Katherine Waters

Go see the animals

Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits, Royal Academy review - mesmerising intensity

Sarah Kent

Beady eyes that try to read the soul as well as the body

Bridget Riley, Hayward Gallery review - the thrill of seeing

Florence Hallett

A comprehensive celebration of the artist's 70-year career

Hogarth: Place and Progress, Sir John Soane’s Museum review - state of the nation

Katherine Waters

Magnificent show of Hogarth's despair at his fellow citizens and a divided England

Pre-Raphaelite Sisters, National Portrait Gallery review – a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes

Sarah Kent

Spotlight on the women and their role in the Brotherhood

Rembrandt's Light, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - a film-maker out of time?

Florence Hallett

A novel collaboration between curators and cinematographer Peter Suschitzky

Anna Maria Maiolino: Making Love Revolutionary, Whitechapel Gallery review – a gentle rebellion

Sarah Kent

A career that evolves from silent resistance to celebration

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

Florence Hallett

The French artist didn't revolutionise portraiture, he was too interested in himself

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art, Barbican review - great theme, disappointing show

Sarah Kent

Artists's clubs - a vibrant topic dryly realised

Kara Walker: Fons Americanus, Tate Modern review – a darkly humorous gift

Sarah Kent

A subversive fountain that flips history on its head

William Blake, Tate Britain - sympathy for the rebel

Katherine Waters

Vast and satisfying show for a visionary and iconic artist

Van Gogh’s Inner Circle, Noordbrabants Museum review - the man behind the art

Katherine Waters

Light on paintings, heavy on the biography

Peter Doig, Michael Werner review - ambiguous and excellent

Katherine Waters

First, second and third-guesses encouraged

Tim Walker: Wonderful Things, V&A review - a bracing full-body immersion

Florence Hallett

An exuberant tribute to London's 'palace of dreams'

10 Questions for author Martin Gayford

Marina Vaizey

The prolific writer on his love of art and jazz, and what makes a good writer

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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