wed 29/06/2022

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

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

Saskia Baron

There’s a sharp observation, delivered in Alan Bennett’s soft tones, that sums up the reputation of the painter Eric Ravilious: “Because his paintings are so accessible, I don’t think he’s thought to be a great artist. It’s because of his charm. He’s so easy to like and things have to be hard, if they’re not hard, then they’re not great."

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

Sarah Kent

The story is riveting. A nanny living in New York and Chicago spent her spare time wandering the streets taking photographs. She learned to develop and print, but her plan to publish the images as postcards fell through and, as time passed, she stopped bothering even to develop the negatives let alone print them.

Venice Biennale 2022 review - The Milk of Dreams...

Mark Hudson

Part two of The Milk of Dreams, the central International Exhibition at the 2022 Venice Biennale, housed in the Arsenale shipyard, starts with the...

In the Air, Wellcome Collection review - art in...

Mark Sheerin

Air is a weighty subject, and in both senses; if we did not contain its gases in our bodies, the air would crush us. Ninety-nine per cent of the...

Whitstable Biennale review - a breath of fresh air

Sarah Kent

If you need an excuse to spend a day in the charming seaside town of Whitstable, the Biennale is it. After a four-year hiatus, the festival is back...

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

The Danish Collector: Delacroix to Gauguin review - fabulous art, not sure about the framing

Jenny Gilbert

Exhibition on Screen offers a catch-up for those who missed the RA show

Paris Photo 2021 review - a moveable feast

Bill Knight

Paris Photo returns, in a new temporary home

'A nun destroyed my tent': artist Kate Daudy talks about NFTs, refugees, and having her work thrown out with the trash

Jessica Baldwin

The artist's first 'Non-Fungible Token' goes live as part of a new online exhibition

Waste Age, Design Museum review - too little too lame

Sarah Kent

How to create a false sense of security

'Of course art doesn't change the world': Situationist artist Jacqueline de Jong on violence, eroticism and the importance of humour

Mark Sheerin

The Dutch veteran's first UK retrospective has opened at MOSTYN in Wales

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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