wed 28/02/2024

Visual Arts Reviews

A Century of the Artist's Studio, Whitechapel Gallery review - a voyeur's delight

Sarah Kent

The Whitechapel Gallery's exhibition opens with Cell IX, 1999 (pictured below) one of the wire cages that Louise Bourgeois filled with memories of her dysfunctional family. This one contains a block of marble carved into hands. A tender portrayal of the mother-daughter bond, it is under scrutiny via three circular mirrors.

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Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child, Hayward Gallery review - the wife, the mistress, the daughter and the art that came out of it

Sarah Kent

Louise Bourgeois didn’t throw anything away and, during the last 20 years of her life, she used her own and her mother’s old clothes to create theatrical tableaux which revisit painful childhood memories. “These garments have a history,” she explained. “They have touched my body and they hold memories of people and places. They are chapters from the story of my life.”

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America in Crisis, Saatchi Gallery review - a country in jeopardy

Sarah Kent

America in Crisis revisits an exhibition staged in 1969 soon after Richard Nixon was elected President. Pictures taken by 18 Magnum photographers including Elliott Erwitt and Mary Ellen Mark cast a critical eye over American society and capture many of the key events that preceded Nixon’s election.

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Francis Bacon: Man and Beast, Royal Academy review – a life lived in extremis

Sarah Kent

Francis Bacon Man and Beast fills most of the main galleries at the Royal Academy. Thankfully, five of the rooms are empty. The exhibition is such a dispiriting experience, I’d have been hollering like a howler monkey if there’d been any more. And as it was, I came out feeling emotionally numb.

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Paula Rego: The Forgotten, Victoria Miro review - relentless focus

Jack Barron

It might be said that Paula Rego’s subject is light: but rather than painting it, she gives it. She paints deep into social corners, affording generous and often unnerving representation to worlds forgotten or forced out of sight.  This isn’t always a comfortable experience, and her figures are frequently refracted or distorted, bent out of shape in a desperate need to be seen.

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Best of 2021: Visual Arts

theartsdesk

Despite its much delayed start, 2021 was a great year for the visual arts, and institutions and artists alike showed their resilience in agile and sensitive responses to unprecedented conditions. The plastic arts took on a new significance as people adjusted to life without human touch; equally, the experience of viewing art online revealed the extent to which tactile qualities are experienced through looking. Here are some of our thoughts on the best of the year just gone.

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Anselm Kiefer Pour Paul Celan, Grand Palais Éphémère, Paris review - an installation of rare profundity

mark Kidel

The exhibitions of the German artist Anselm Kiefer have always been spectacular: large works with a numinous presence, often breath-taking and always mysterious. His new installation in Paris’s Grand Palais Ephémère, the temporary structure at the end of the Champ de Mars which stretches south from the Eiffel Tower, is perhaps the most ambitious work he has ever presented in a museum space.

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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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