sat 13/07/2024

Visual Arts Reviews

Pionnières: Artistes dans le Paris des années folles, Musée du Luxembourg, Paris review - thrilling and slightly flawed

mark Kidel

The hidden history of women artists continues to generate some ground-breaking exhibitions that contribute to a radical re-assessment of art and cultural history. This is a welcome trend, though not entirely without risk, as a new show in Paris demonstrates, and as other exhibitions have managed less convincingly.

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Surrealism Beyond Borders, Tate Modern review - a disappointing mish mash

Sarah Kent

The night after visiting Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders I dreamt that a swarm of wasps had taken refuge inside my skull and I feared it would hurt when they nibbled their way out again.

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Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945-65, Barbican review - revelations galore

Sarah Kent

The Barbican’s Postwar Modern covers the period after World War Two when artists were struggling to respond to the horrors that had engulfed Europe and find ways of recovering from the collective trauma.

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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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