sun 26/05/2024

Visual Arts reviews, news & interviews

Brancusi, Pompidou Centre, Paris review - a sculptor's spiritual quest for form and essence

Mark Kidel

One hundred and twenty sculptures, and so much more: the current Brancusi blockbuster at the Centre Pompidou, the first large Paris show of the Romanian-born sculptor’s work since 1995, provides an exhilarating and in many ways definitive perspective on one of the founding figures of 20th century modernism.

Expressionists: Kandinsky, Münter and the Blue Rider, Tate Modern review - a missed opportunity

Sarah Kent

In 1903, Wassily Kandinsky painted a figure in a blue cloak galloping across a landscape on a white horse. Several years later the name of the painting, The Blue Rider (der Blaue Reiter) was adopted by a group of friends who joined forces to exhibit together and disseminate their ideas in a publication of the same name.

Eye to Eye: Homage to Ernst Scheidegger, MASI...

Mark Sheerin

With a troubled gaze and a lived-in face, the portrait of artist Alberto Giacometti on a withdrawn Swiss banknote is strange currency indeed. One...

Stephen review - a breathtakingly good first...

Sarah Kent

Stephen is the first feature film by multi-media artist Melanie Manchot and it’s the best debut film I’ve seen since Steve McQueen’s Hunger. It’s...

Fantastic Machine review - photography's...

Sarah Kent

The first photograph was taken nearly 200 years ago in France by Joseph Niépce, and the first picture of a person was taken in Paris by Louis...

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Yinka Shonibare: Suspended States, Serpentine Gallery review - pure delight

Sarah Kent

Weighty subject matter treated with the lightest of touch

Jane Harris: Ellipse, Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MÉCA, Bordeaux review - ovals to the fore

Mark Sheerin

Persistence and conviction in the works of the late English painter

Sargent and Fashion, Tate Britain review - portraiture as a performance

Sarah Kent

London’s elite posing dressed up to the nines

Zineb Sedira: Dreams Have No Titles, Whitechapel Gallery review - a disorientating mix of fact and fiction

Sarah Kent

An exhibition that begs the question 'What and where is home?'

Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind, Tate Modern review - a fitting celebration of the early years

Sarah Kent

Acknowledgement as a major avant garde artist comes at 90

Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art, Barbican review - the fabric of dissent

Florence Hallett

An ambitious exploration of a neglected medium

When Forms Come Alive, Hayward Gallery review - how to reduce good art to family fun

Sarah Kent

Seriously good sculptures presented as little more than playthings or jokes

Entangled Pasts 1768-now, Royal Academy review - an institution exploring its racist past

Sarah Kent

After a long, slow journey from invisibility to agency, black people finally get a look in

Barbara Kruger, Serpentine Gallery review - clever, funny and chilling installations

Sarah Kent

Exploring the lies, deceptions and hyperbole used to cajole, bully and manipulate us

Richard Dorment: Warhol After Warhol review - beyond criticism

Alice Brewer

A venerable art critic reflects on the darkest hearts of our aesthetic market

Dineo Seshee Raisibe Bopape: (ka) pheko ye / the dream to come, Kiasma, Helsinki review - psychic archaeology

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

The South African artist evokes the Finnish landscape in a multisensory installation

Paul Cocksedge: Coalescence, Old Royal Naval College review - all that glitters

Alastair Davey

An installation explores the origins of a Baroque masterpiece

Issy Wood, Study for No, Lafayette Anticipations, Paris review - too close for comfort?

Mark Kidel

One of Britain's most captivating young artists makes a big splash in Paris

Mark Rothko, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris review - a show well worth the trip across the Channel

Mark Kidel

Abstraction with emotion and soul in a landmark retrospective

Women in Revolt!, Tate Britain review - a super important if overwhelming show

Sarah Kent

Women protesting with all their might in both art and life

A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography, Tate Modern review - pulling out the stops to address issues around cultural identity

Sarah Kent

Thirty-six African artists reconnect with their heritage in dramatic and moving images

El Anatsui: Behind the Red Moon, Tate Modern review - glorious creations

Sarah Kent

As this Turbine Hall installation shows, the Ghanaian artist can cope with vast scale

RE/SISTERS: A Lens on Gender and Ecology, Barbican review - women fighting to protect the environment

Sarah Kent

Eco-warriors and art as activism

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Time Machine, Hayward Gallery review - a Japanese photographer uses droll humour to ask big questions

Sarah Kent

Bringing the dead to life and looking at the world before and after humans

Turner Prize 2023, Towner Eastbourne review - four contestants strike a sombre mood

Sarah Kent

Art that reflects on social ills

Philip Guston, Tate Modern review - a compelling look at an artist who derided the KKK

Sarah Kent

How to appear daft while addressing the dark side

Sarah Lucas: Happy Gas, Tate Britain review - overcrowding muffles the voice of the wildest of the YBAs

Sarah Kent

Too many bunnies spoil the sculpture broth

Marina Abramović, Royal Academy review - young performers stand in for the absent artist

Sarah Kent

This pioneer of performance art is the first woman to show in the main galleries

Beatriz Milhazes: Maresias, Turner Contemporary review - the taste and sight of Brazil

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

A retrospective of the Brazilian artist's career transports us to Rio de Janeiro

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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