Art / Exhibitions

Magnificent Maps

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British Library; Until 19 September

This new exhibition - subtitled "Power, Propaganda and Art" - points to the varied functions of maps. In fact, most of the maps here seem to emphasise both their aesthetic magnificence and their function as symbols of power. Vast canvases of expensive thread, continents outlined in gold leaf and portraits of kings adorning the tops of their colonial conquests need little explanation. The structure of the exhibition, portioned into "throne room", "bedchamber" and other rooms in a royal court, adds to this effect.

Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic

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Tate Liverpool, until 25 April 2010

The opening pieces in this comprehensive exhibition express its major theme. The artists of the Black American avant-garde of the 1930s were as influenced by the contemporary trends in European art as they were by the vibrancy of the street life and jazz culture of the US ghetto. The artists of what became known as the Harlem Renaissance reacted against the exoticisation of non-European peoples, typical of the "primitivist" art of a previous generation, by embracing the styles current within the world of European art.

Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde

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Tate Modern; Until 16 May

The transformative impact of the Russian Revolution on art has been the impetus for a series of excellent exhibitions at Tate Modern. Albers and Moholy-Nagy: From the Bauhaus to the New World (2006), Kandinsky: The Path to Abstraction (2006) and Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism (2009) all drew attention to the imaginative explosion that took place internationally in the wake of 1917, while not always telling us about the social processes that gave birth to such dynamic movements. This exhibition continues in this vein.

Political Landscapes

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Magnum Print Room, London

Landscape photography is rarely just a celebration of stunning views and nature's beauty. The genre has often been ideologically loaded.

For example, early images of the US landscape were a celebration of the supposedly empty land being opened up to colonialism. The genre can also be used effectively to highlight the impact of war, development and capitalism on the landscape. Landscape photography has developed along two routes: artistic and documentary. There is often a crossover between the two.

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