Art / Exhibitions

Francis Bacon

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Tate Britain

Reviewing an exhibition is an invitation to comment both on the exhibition as such and on the art presented. Since performing both tasks satisfactorily is impossible in the space available I shall concentrate on questions raised by Francis Bacon's work and say only this about the exhibition.

Frolic

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Huang Yong Ping, Barbican, London until 21 September

Huang Yong Ping's Frolic is a tale about the largest drug traffickers of the 19th century: the British Empire.

Frolic was a New England clipper ship built for the opium trade in Asia. For Huang, however, it isn't only the name of the ship. It is about capitalism and its wars.

The Lure of the East

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Tate Britain, London, Until 31 August

British contacts with the Muslim world go back a long way. The first Moroccan ambassador, for example, visited London in 1600 as part of an alliance with England against Spain. While here he had his portrait painted, and the intervening 400 years have seen a complicated network of connections develop between politics and culture.

Citizen Milton

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Bodleian Library, Oxford, until 26 April

Oxford University owe John Milton. Milton was a revolutionary republican and, after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the University Convocation, with the typical bravery of academic institutions, voted to burn his books. Twice.

Luckily, somewhere in the darkened shelves of the Bodleian, the librarians hid away Milton's works and they survived to be exhibited here. Now the danger is long past, they've done him proud.

Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia

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Tate Modern, London, until 26 May

Just before the First World War the cultural world was rocked by a series of dissident artists. They were self-conscious rebels out to shock. They fought convention on many fronts. They used new non-art materials, selected new subject matter, scrapped the conventions of naturalism like perspective, depth and realistic colour, and in general tried to break down the boundaries between art and everyday life.

They have become known as modernists, and the three featured in this exhibition were among the most controversial.

Shooting the Witness: The cartoons of Naji Al-Ali

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The Political Cartoon Gallery, London, until 12 April

As a Palestinian child growing up in Kuwait, the cartoons of Naji Al-Ali in my father's daily newspaper had a powerful effect on me. At the time I was a typical Arab kid: acutely aware of our plight yet blissfully ignorant of the endemic political issues plaguing the Palestinian struggle. I felt that these seemingly simple cartoons affected me in a personal and private way, which is exactly what every one of his millions of admirers felt too.

Alexander Rodchenko: Revolution in Photography

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Hayward Gallery, London, Until 27 April

This exhibition is dedicated to the photographic work of Alexander Rodchenko, and even today, almost 100 years on, living in a society overflowing with images, his photographs are still fresh, still have a sense of wonder and relevance. This comes from what they record - an epoch of revolution and defeat, of hope and despair.

From Russia

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Royal Academy of Arts

In the third room of this extraordinary exhibition there is a group of works painted in Paris in 1908-10. It was the time of Cubism, of Pablo Picasso's Dryad, of Henri Matisse's sensual Nude, Black and Gold and the wonderfully energetic Dance II that is the exhibition's emblematic painting. Two years earlier Paul Cézanne painted the last of his studies of the Mont Sainte-Victoire when the hill itself disappears behind the sheer force of the painter's hand; now we are no longer looking at a place but at the experience, the sight and feeling of the place.

Bauhaus 1919-1933

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Middlesbrough's bright new MIMA is showing the most extensive exhibition of work from the Bauhaus in Britain since 1968.

Founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus represented one of the most striking examples of attempts to unite industrial production, art and design. It is a cross-over point for various strands of modernist thinking and practice. It was first established in Weimar amid the social turmoil and revolution following the First World War.

In rejecting European academia, Bauhaus students and teachers sought to bridge the gap between artist and craft worker and between art and society.

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