sat 13/07/2024

Visual Arts Reviews

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

Sarah Kent

American artist Kehinde Wiley may be best known for his photo-realist portrait of Barack Obama, but painting powerful black men is not the norm. More often he elevates people met on the street in Brooklyn, Dalston or Dakar to positions of pseudo authority by inserting them into pastiches of history paintings honouring the rich and powerful.

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The Courtauld Gallery - the old place, just better

Florence Hallett

The Courtauld Gallery’s dark corners have gone, and with them a certain apt melancholy, that effortlessly summoned the ghosts of Gauguin’s Nevermore, 1897, – the abused and exploited girls of Tahiti; and Delius, who had this painting in his house at Grez-sur-Loing.

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Lubaina Himid, Tate Modern review – more explication please

Sarah Kent

Lubaina Himid won the Turner Prize in 2017 for the retrospective she held jointly at Modern Art, Oxford and Spike Island, Bristol. My review of those shows ended with the question: “Which gallery will follow the examples of Oxford and Bristol and offer Lubaina Himid the London retrospective she so richly deserves?”

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

Jenny Gilbert

In Paris on a business trip in 1916, Wilhelm Hansen was no doubt typical of many husbands in confessing to his wife that he’d been a bit reckless in his personal spending (“You’ll forgive me once you see what I’ve bought”).

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Paris Photo 2021 review - a moveable feast

Bill Knight

Paris Photo 2021 was a wonderful show. Back after the pandemic it was moved to the Grand Palais Éphémère, a temporary structure built to host major art exhibitions while the Grand Palais itself is modernised in preparation for the 2024 Olympics. There were 178 exhibitors at the Grand Palais from 29 countries, 19 solo shows and 8 duo shows. There were thousands of images on display.

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Waste Age, Design Museum review - too little too lame

Sarah Kent

I should have emerged from the Design Museum sizzling with furious determination to help solve the world’s rubbish crisis. Trashing the planet is, after all, the most important issue of our time and Waste Age details the enormity of the problem.

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Yoko Ono, Mend Piece, Whitechapel Gallery review – funny and sad in equal measure

Sarah Kent

Its more than 50 years since Yoko Ono first presented Mend Piece at the Indica Gallery, London in the exhibition through which she met John Lennon. The piece is currently being revisited at the Whitechapel Gallery and, in the intervening years, its meaning has subtly shifted.

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Theaster Gates - A Clay Sermon, Whitechapel Gallery review - mud, mud, glorious mud

Sarah Kent

Last year a stoneware jar by David Drake sold at auction for $1.3 million. It fetched this extraordinary price because of its history: Drake was a slave on a plantation in South Carolina who not only made fabulous pots, but dared sign and date them at a time when it was illegal for slaves to read and write. Needless to say, his descendants haven’t received a penny in royalties from sales of his work.

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Isamu Noguchi, Barbican review – the most elegant exhibition in town

Sarah Kent

Isamu Noguchi may not be a household name, yet one strand of his work is incredibly familiar. In 1951 he visited a lamp factory in Gifu, a Japanese city famous for its paper lanterns. This prompted him to design the lampshades that, for decades, have adorned nearly every student’s bedsit.

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Gerhard Richter: Drawings, Hayward Gallery review - exquisite ruminations

Sarah Kent

In 2015, an abstract painting by Gerhard Richter broke the world record for contemporary art by selling at auction for £30.4m, and the octogenarian is often described as the most important living artist.

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