wed 24/07/2024

Visual Arts Reviews

Picasso Special - Picasso: Peace and Freedom, Tate Liverpool

Fisun Güner

Picasso the genius, the sensualist, the womaniser, the priapic beast. This much we think we know of the great Spanish artist. But how about Picasso the political activist? Picasso the supporter of women’s causes? Picasso the… feminist? Oh, yes, that Picasso. In a landmark Liverpool exhibition focusing on the years 1944 to his death in 1973, and bringing together 150 works from around the globe, Picasso becomes all of these things.

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Bridget Riley: From Life, National Portrait Gallery

Fisun Güner Bridget Riley: 'Boy with curly hair', early 1950s (red conté crayon on paper)

Forget about art “being about the idea” for a moment. Drawing from life is still considered by many to be the litmus test for proper artistic skill, or at least the foundation from which great art can arise. And so the enquiry, “But can he really draw?” is still one contemporary artists are confronted with by those not shy of asking what they consider an obvious question. And it...

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The Genius of Design: Designs for Living, BBC Two

Fisun Güner Are you sitting comfortably? A Bauhaus Marcel Breuer chair

Does form always have to follow function? Is ornamentation really such a heinous crime? Or is Modernism itself the enemy of the people? The second part of this excellent five-part series – fab archive footage, great interviews with designers young enough to no longer be beholden to the Modernist creed – focused on the founding of the Bauhaus and the Modernist aesthetic. And after juggling a lot of questions, it gently guided us towards more or less the same position as Tom Wolfe’s From...

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The Printed Image in China, British Museum

Fisun Güner

The British Museum’s current exhibition of 15th-century works on paper, Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings, explores the increasing importance of the preparatory sketch in the development of western art. Central to that development was the availability of cheaply produced paper.

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LUX-ICO Artists Cinema Commissions

Josh Spero A still from 'Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright' by Akram Zaatari

In my parents’ day, apparently, one just turned up at the cinema whenever one felt like it, even if that meant the first thing you heard on entering the auditorium was Bogart signalling the start of a beautiful friendship. That doesn’t wash these days – the auteur put paid to that – and given the short films commissioned by ICO/LUX to run before the feature, we can only approve.

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Stuart Semple, Morton Metropolis

Josh Spero

Sincerity is not a quality the contemporary art world seems to value: the masking of emotions under layers of irony is where we stand. But while Damien Hirst paints from a cynical palette, British Pop Artist Stuart Semple's Nineties-inflected paintings have sincerity to spare.

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Marc Quinn, White Cube

Judith Flanders

Marc Quinn is used to making a spectacle of himself. In Self (1991 and ongoing), a life-sized cast of his head was filled with his own blood. It was a stark and sobering reflection on what we all share, the universality of the most basic of human elements. But with the works in his new show Allanah, Buck, Catman, Chelsea, Michael, Pamela and Thomas, "spectacle" becomes the operative word, and universality is nowhere to be found.

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Modern Masters: Warhol, BBC One

Fisun Güner Alastair Sooke ponders the inescapable coolness of Andy Warhol

I wondered how long it would be before Andy Warhol’s "15 minute" quote came up. From the whizzy, flash-bang opening credits  I knew it wouldn’t be long. I was right: but less than seven minutes? Less than five?  I didn’t time it, since I was still somewhat mesmerised by the sight of perky presenter Alastair Sooke doing a kind of disco-dancey, pointy-arm manoeuvre in front of  Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon during the intro. (Oh no,  Alastair, I wanted to cry, you can’t out-cool...

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Bill Fontana: River Sounding, Somerset House

Sarah Kent 'River Sounding': 'The ship’s bell seems to toll with maudlin finality'

The fountains have been switched on at Somerset House, and I watched a group of tourists giggling as they picked their way through the water jets. They obviously hadn’t noticed the cheerful sound of running water coming from the edge of the courtyard, which encourages you to descend some narrow stairs down to the light wells that illuminate the lower floors of Somerset House.

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Jannis Kounellis, Ambika P3

Fisun Güner Jannis Kounellis: 'The sculpture looms above the visitors dodging in and out of blind alleys'

Last year, visitors to Tate Modern’s Artists’ Rooms could see a room dedicated to Jannis Kounellis. It was filled with some of his most resonant work: a door filled up with drystone walling; burlap sacks of grain, rice, pulses; metal bells. For a founder-member of the Arte Povera movement, it was surprisingly bucolic.

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