Art / Exhibitions

John Baldessari: The godfather of conceptual art

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John Baldessari, who died last month, was called the godfather of conceptual art. He played a pivotal role in the development of western art in the second half of the 20th century, both in its move away from painting and sculpture and in its relocation from New York to California, and in particular Los Angeles.

After the Second World War the centre of the art world moved from Paris to New York. Artistically it was dominated by abstract art, and in particular abstract expressionism, with the work of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and others.

Dead Dad Book

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This exhibition displays some of the extraordinary pots and plates made by ceramicists Vicky Lindo and Bill Brookes, who won a major prize for this work.

The pieces represent the journey of Vicky’s dad Michael, aka Mick, from Jamaica to Britain, part of the Windrush Generation. He eventually made his way to Wexford in the south east of Ireland, where he lived in a cabin in a wood for some years and where he died.

It’s a story of migration, fractured relationships, sadness and loss, as seen by a daughter who has been and remains intricately involved. It’s her story too.

Oscar Marzaroli

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Oscar Marzaroli (1933-1988) is, unquestionably, one of the finest photographers Scotland has ever produced. His pictures of Glasgow and its people, in particular, are an intrinsic and iconic party of the city’s self-image. It is extraordinary, therefore, that this brilliant exhibition in Glasgow’s pre-eminent photography gallery is the first major show of his work in 30 years.

Anselm Kiefer

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Anselm Kiefer is something of an anomaly in the upper reaches of the contemporary art world.

In a period when the super-rich who set many trends favour the vacuous and decorative, his work engages with big ideas about society and history. He’s not shy of taking a political stand either: for several years he refused to attend his openings in the US, in protest against the Iraq war.

Charlotte Salomon: Life? Or Theatre?

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Charlotte Salomon was born at the end of the First World War and grew up in Berlin with her Jewish parents. The work on display in this show is a history of her family before she was born and her own life story. However if you go to this exhibition expecting to be immersed in the Jewish experience of Berlin, you’re going to have your ideas turned on their head.

Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How to Fight Them

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Inspired by the Icelandic Phallological Museum (yes, that’s a penis museum), the director realised there was no female equivalent and organised a public fundraising campaign.

Unlike its Icelandic counterpart, it’s not a traditional museum with exhibits of vaginas through the ages. Rather, it’s a series of changing exhibitions. The first one, “Muff Busters”, is really an information source.

Pioneers: William Morris and the Bauhaus

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This free, one-room exhibition is the latest in an abundance of programming marking the centenary of the Bauhaus. It brings together over 60 objects to explore the link between the influential design school of Weimar Germany and the Victorian socialist, writer and artist William Morris.

Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius noted the influence of Morris and his contemporaries such as John Ruskin on the school.

The Turner Prize

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The Turner Prize is awarded every year to British artists. It’s organised by the Tate and traditionally the nominated artists’ work is displayed in Tate Britain in London. This year the exhibition is at the Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate.

The four shortlisted artists are Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani.

The Art of Persuasion: Wartime posters by Abram Games

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The Art of Persuasion at the National Army Museum is a fascinating exhibition of Second World War posters produced by the incredibly prolific and inventive artist Abram Games (although artist is not a term he liked to use about himself. He preferred the term “graphic thinker”). It’s also an insight into how the Second World War was seen by very many of its ordinary participants, military and civilian.

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