sun 26/05/2019

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Manga, British Museum review - stories for outsiders

Katherine Waters

Manga, the Japanese art of the graphic novel, took its modern form in the 1800s. Illustrated stories already had a long heritage in Japan — encompassing woodblock prints and illustrated scrolls and novels — but the introduction of the printing press by foreign visitors changed the rate at which works could be made and the extent of their distribution.

The Best Exhibitions in London


 Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum ★★★★★ Daring, flair and elegance over 80 year. Until 14 July

Anish Kapoor, Lisson Gallery review - naïve...

Katherine Waters

There are children screaming in a nearby playground. Their voices rise and fall, swell and drop. Interspersed silences fill with the sound of running...

58th Venice Biennale review - confrontational,...

Katherine Waters

There’s a barely disguised sense of threat running through the 2019 Venice Biennale. Of the 79 participating artists and groups, all are living and...

Cathy Wilkes, British Pavilion, Venice Biennale...

Katherine Waters

Dried flowers like offerings lie atop a gauze-covered rectangular frame. Pebbles surround its base alongside plaster casts, a desiccated dragonfly...

Fetes and Kermesses in the Time of the Brueghels, Musée de Flandre review - all the fun of the fair

Mark Sheerin

Bruegel's heirs star in a low key but revelatory exhibition in the Flemish countryside

Henry Moore at Houghton Hall: Nature and Inspiration review - big views bring new light

Florence Hallett

Works by the British sculptor find new avenues in a superb Norfolk setting

Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to Celebrate Brighton Festival!


An eclectic line-up spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, comedy, literature and spoken word could be yours with boutique hotel and exquisite meals included

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, Design Museum review - immersive detail

Tom Birchenough

Concentrated archive show reveals the prodigious ferment of a film imagination

First Person: Robert Hollingworth on I Fagiolini's 'Leonardo - Shaping the Invisible'

Robert Hollingworth

Images reflected in music 500 years after the ultimate Renaissance man's death

Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light, National Gallery review - a national treasure comes to London

Marina Vaizey

A comprehensive introduction to a little known painter

Who’s Afraid of Drawing? Works on Paper from the Ramo Collection, Estorick Collection review - surprising and rewarding

Katherine Waters

Getting up close to the skin of an artist's thinking

Sea Star: Sean Scully, National Gallery review - analysing past masters

Florence Hallett

The latest encounter between a living artist and the national collection

Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now, Gagosian Gallery review - old master, new ways

Florence Hallett

One of the most mysterious paintings ever made inspires an exploration of the self-portrait

Edvard Munch: Love and Angst, British Museum review - compassion in the age of anxiety

Florence Hallett

Norway's greatest painter revealed as a master printmaker

Mary Quant, Victoria & Albert Museum review - quantities of Quant

Katherine Waters

The triumph of commerce over snobbery

Pitzhanger Manor review - letting the light back in

Katherine Waters

Restoration of Soane’s country house spells out a legacy of success and ruin

At Eternity's Gate review - Willem Dafoe excels in hyperactive biopic

Matt Wolf

Willem Dafoe's Oscar nod as Vincent Van Gogh was well-deserved

Van Gogh and Britain, Tate Britain review - tenuous but still persuasive

Florence Hallett

The artist's London years provide an insight into his inner life

Mike Nelson, The Asset Strippers, Tate Britain review – exhilarating reminder of industrial might

Sarah Kent

A stirring elegy to Britain's industrial past

Only Human: Martin Parr, National Portrait Gallery review - relentlessly feelgood

Marina Vaizey

Passing shadows across Brexit Britain

An encounter with John Richardson, Picasso's biographer who has died at 95

Jasper Rees

Picasso's definitive biographer recalls the artist he knew

Kader Attia / Diane Arbus, Hayward Gallery review - views from the margins

Marina Vaizey

Two photographers explore colliding worlds

Louise Bourgeois, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge review - a slender but choice selection

Florence Hallett

Representative samples cry out for the domestic setting of Jim Ede's house

Dorothea Tanning, Tate Modern review – an absolute revelation

Sarah Kent

An artist with a unique voice eclipsed by her famous husband

Franz West, Tate Modern review - absurdly exhilarating

Sarah Kent

Raw energy turned into raw art

Phyllida Barlow: Cul-de-sac, Royal Academy review - unadulterated delight

Sarah Kent

The most inspiring show of the year makes sculpture look easy

John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing, Two Temple Place review - inside the mind of a visionary

Marina Vaizey

The Victorian critic's own collection reveals a man of many parts

Don McCullin, Tate Britain review - beastliness made beautiful

Sarah Kent

The darkest, most compelling exhibition you are ever likely to see

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


Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


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

CD: Youssou N'Dour - History

Yousou N’Dour has come a long way from his cassettes with Super Etoile de Dakar, that wild mbalax energy, fed by the clatter of the high-...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Bernard Herrmann

Debates about whether 1964’s Marnie presaged Alfred...

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Cardiff Castle revi...

Blessed with a red sunset and an adoring crowd, Noel Gallagher brought life to the ruins of...

Spice Girls, Croke Park, Dublin review - uncomplicated fun

They’re back and they’re looking and sounding good – and Spice Girls mania took over Dublin’s city centre for several hours before...

CD: Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith - The Peyote Dance

Soundwalk Collective is a multi-disciplinary audio-visual collective founded by Stephan Crasneanscki, a musical psycho-geographer and field...

Los Angeles Master Chorale, Gershon, Sellars, Barbican revie...

By some strange alignment of the stars, Peter Sellars’s staged version of Orlando di Lasso’s...