sat 16/10/2021

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

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.

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.

Isamu Noguchi, Barbican review – the most elegant...

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...

Gerhard Richter: Drawings, Hayward Gallery review...

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...

Mixing it Up, Hayward Gallery review - a glorious...

Sarah Kent

The 31 artists in Mixing it Up all live in this country, but a third of them were born elsewhere – in countries including Belgium, China, Columbia,...

Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - adventures in print

Florence Hallett

A fresh look at the American painter's reimagining of woodcut

The Lost Leonardo review - an incredible tale as gripping as any thriller

Sarah Kent

The machinations of the art market laid bare

Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Tate Modern review - a creative talent that knew no bounds

Sarah Kent

Jack of all trades and master of every one

Paula Rego, Tate Britain review - the artist's inner landscape like never before

Dora Neill

A magnificent retrospective celebrates one of the outstanding artists of her generation

Karla Black, Fruitmarket, Edinburgh review - airy free-for-all

Mark Sheerin

A retrospective of the abstract sculptor highlights her idiosyncracies

Ben Nicholson: From the Studio, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester review - domestic bliss

Simon O'Hagan

Still life takes the foreground in a long-awaited survey of the painter's career

Afterness, Orford Ness review - a breath of fresh air, literally

Sarah Kent

Art on the island of secrets

Pre-Raphaelites: Drawings & Watercolours, Ashmolean Museum review - a rich array

Dora Neill

Some of Britain's most popular artists highlight the importance and beauty of drawing

Dark Days, Luminous Nights, Manchester Collective, The White Hotel, Salford review - a sense of Hades

Robert Beale

Musicians and artists find out where the bodies are buried

The Making of Rodin, Tate Modern review - surrealist tendencies

Florence Hallett

The sculptor is recast as a proto-modernist in a show focused on works in plaster

Matthew Barney: Redoubt, Hayward Gallery review - the wild west revisited

Sarah Kent

A fusion of classical and modern mythology

David Hockney / Michael Armitage, Royal Academy review - painting with an iPad vs brushes and paint

Sarah Kent

Scenes from France and Kenya - an old dog learns new digital tricks, glorious paintings on bark

Eileen Agar, Whitechapel Gallery review - a free spirit to the end

Sarah Kent

An important female surrealist gets her first retrospective

Turner's Modern World, Tate Britain review - the universal artist

Florence Hallett

The great painter resists the confines of his own era, despite Tate's best efforts

Points of Departure, Brighton Festival 2021 review - Ray Lee's harbour-based sound art impresses

Thomas H Green

At Shoreham's working port, something strangely wonderful is happening

Rachel Whiteread: Internal Objects, Gagosian Gallery review - apocalyptic sheds

Markie Robson-Scott

A triumphant change of direction from the queen of casting

This is a Robbery: The World's Biggest Art Heist, Netflix - the last word (for now)

Florence Hallett

Three decades on and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum mystery is still hot

Prix Pictet: Confinement review - a year in photographs

Florence Hallett

Prize-winning photographers respond to the pandemic

Pioneering Women, Oxford Ceramics Gallery online review - domestic pleasures

Marina Vaizey

A survey of female potters explores ancient ubiquity and the allure of pure form

Best of 2020: Visual Arts


Our critics reflect on their favourite exhibitions of 2020

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Tate Britain review - enigmatic figures full of life

Sarah Kent

When is a painting not a portrait?

Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch, Royal Academy review - juxtapositions that confuse rather than clarify

Sarah Kent

Similar themes, different sensibilities

Zanele Muholi, Tate Modern review - photography as protest

Sarah Kent

Pictures so confrontational they knock you sideways

Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer, Barbican Art Gallery review - mould-breaker, ground-shaker

Jenny Gilbert

A crash course in the life and times of an iconoclast and muse

Footnote: A brief history of british art

The National Gallery, the British Museum, Tate Modern, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Royal Collection - Britain's art galleries and museums are world-renowned, not only for the finest of British visual arts but core collections of antiquities and artworks from great world civilisations.

Holbein_Ambasssadors_1533The glory of British medieval art lay first in her magnificent cathedrals and manuscripts, but kings, aristocrats, scientists and explorers became the vital forces in British art, commissioning Holbein or Gainsborough portraits, founding museums of science or photography, or building palatial country mansions where architecture, craft and art united in a luxuriously cultured way of life (pictured, Holbein's The Ambassadors, 1533 © National Gallery). A rich physician Sir Hans Sloane launched the British Museum with his collection in 1753, and private collections were the basis in the 19th century for the National Gallery, the V&A, the National Portrait Gallery, the original Tate gallery and the Wallace Collections.

British art tendencies have long passionately divided between romantic abstraction and a deep-rooted love of narrative and reality. While 19th-century movements such as the Pre-Raphaelite painters and Victorian Gothic architects paid homage to decorative medieval traditions, individualists such as George Stubbs, William Hogarth, John Constable, J M W Turner and William Blake were radicals in their time.

In the 20th century sculptors Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, painters Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, architects Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers embody the contrasts between fantasy and observation. More recently another key patron, Charles Saatchi, championed the sensational Britart conceptual art explosion, typified by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. The Arts Desk reviews all the major exhibitions of art and photography as well as interviewing leading creative figures in depth about their careers and working practices. Our writers include Fisun Guner, Judith Flanders, Sarah Kent, Mark Hudson, Sue Steward and Josh Spero.

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