wed 28/02/2024

Visual Arts Reviews

Mutate Britain: One Foot in the Grove

joe Muggs The site by night

A 15ft aardvark constructed from raw timber with a light-up robotic face and gigantic hands is climbing up one of the support pillars of the Westway, next to the body of a full-sized helicopter the front of which has been shaped into a grinning skull. Life-size rearing horse torsos made of white marble-like resin, with real horse skulls instead of heads, are mounted on the wheels of Victorian perambulators, while a man rides a clanking, hissing, fire-spitting motorised beast with stamping...

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Kienholz: The Hoerengracht, National Gallery

Mark Hudson

The National Gallery is on a roll. Having enjoyed the surprise hit of the autumn with The Sacred Made Real, an exhibition of 17th-century Spanish religious art, the gallery now makes its first foray into installation art with by far the grungiest work ever to cross its portals: The Hoerengracht, a walk-through portrayal of Amsterdam’s red light district by the American sculptors Ed and Nancy Kienholz.

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David Hockney, Nottingham Contemporary

Fisun Güner

Nottingham Contemporary is Britain’s newest art gallery. Built deep into a sandstone cliff in the city’s oldest site, its sturdy, squat exterior is clad in scalloped gold and pale green panels. Resembling your granny’s old net curtains, the green pre-cast concrete is moulded with a pattern of 19th-century lace, paying homage to the city’s Victorian traditional industry.

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What Is Beauty?, BBC Two

Josh Spero

As questions go, "What is beauty?" is quite possibly only second to "What do women want?" in the frequency of its asking and in the difficulty of its answer. As the first programme in BBC Two and BBC Four’s Modern Beauty season, What Is Beauty? features Matthew Collings skirting around the edges of an answer and in doing so inadvertently...

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Points of View: Capturing the 19th century in photographs, British Library

sue Steward Printing Kodak, 1890: female staff mass-producing albumen prints made using eggwhites from 100 chickens in the yard

“Photography is a refuge for failed painters,” declared the French poet, Charles Baudelaire around 1862. Yet photography took over a century to become a genuine family member of the art world. The British Library was slow to capitalise on the visitor value and historical significance of the vast photo-archive that it accumulated over the birth-period of this new artform. But its spectacular debut exhibition has burst open the vaults containing over 300,000 images, and now presents a...

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Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting, Hayward Gallery

Mark Hudson

West Coast pop art always was a poor relation to the world-beating New York original. Beside the Big Apple titans – Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg – LA painters such as Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin and John Altoon remained essentially local figures. Or that’s certainly the way it has looked from this side of the pond.

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Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2009, National Portrait Gallery

Fisun Güner

Does a winning photograph jump out at you? Sure, we can talk earnestly of composition, an interesting subject, a telling juxtaposition, or the abstract interplay of colour, texture and light. But perhaps more than any other visual art form, what strikes us most about a photographic image remains somehow more elusive. And the hand of the artist who presses the shutter, rather than wields the brush, is not so easily perceived.

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Wild Thing: Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska, Gill, Royal Academy

Fisun Güner

By all accounts Eric Gill had a shocking private life.

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Drawing Attention, Dulwich Picture Gallery

howard Male Schiele's Portrait of a Girl: stretching to the very limit the pared-down language of decisive line and white space.

The first thing to say about Drawing Attention is that its title decidedly undersells the scope of this compelling and unpredictable exhibition, which spans five centuries and includes 100 works from the Art Gallery of Ontario’s collection. Most of us might define a drawing as some kind of monochromatic sketch, either produced by the artist as preparatory work for a finished painting, or to capture some ephemeral moment. The drawing represents artists, paradoxically, at their most...

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Damien Hirst: No Love Lost - Blue Paintings, Wallace Collection

mark Irving

Damien Hirst's new exhibition at the Wallace Collection is evidence of a deal between nervous guardians of the past and a contemporary artist seeking to burnish his future historical credentials. It stinks. Entitled No Love Lost, Blue Paintings by Damien Hirst ­ - the clunking allusion to Picasso's Blue Period marks out the scale of Hirst's ambition -­ it presents 25 paintings that we are assured are actually by Hirst rather than a cohort of assistants.

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