The next two occupants of the so-called Fourth Plinth Commission in Trafalgar Square have just been announced and, true to form, the British visual arts establishment has laboured and given birth to a mouse. Or, to be fair, to two mice, one of them just slightly larger than the other. I speak not in terms of size, but in those of probable effect.
23 March 2017
Howard Hodgkin died just two weeks before the opening of the current retrospective of his work at the National Portrait Gallery.
20 March 2017
The current Paolozzi exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery is, for an old stager like me, a bit of a puzzle. There was a time when Paolozzi was a very big deal – one of the major innovators in British art, the destined successor to the first generation of major British Modernists, chief among them Henry Moore.
16 March 2017
The Design Museum’s new exhibition, Imagine Moscow: Architecture, Propaganda, Revolution, is in many respects a great improvement on its rather incoherent opening show (or collection of shows).
8 February 2017
It seems a long time since Tate Britain had a real blockbuster show. Even the Turner Prize, once a focus of popular attention, has received less and less publicity recently, to the point where the dissidents of the Stuckist Movement can no longer be bothered to picket it, even when the annual prize exhibition is held here in London, and not banished to some deserving gallery in the provinces.
When Maria Balshaw takes over from Sir Nicolas Serota at Tate (not yet officially confirmed as I write this, but a racing certainty), she takes over an empire that seems to be in excellent health.
2 January 2017
Edward Lucie-Smith discusses the relevance of Conceptual Art in the millennial age.
10 December 2016
Painter’s Painters at the Saatchi Gallery picks up the theme of figurative painting as a still essential and central form of art making and tries to give it a new spin.
5 December 2016
I’m always left in two minds about Robert Rauschenberg. On the one hand, there is his enormous influence on the course of today’s contemporary art. Everywhere you look, you see things that came from him. He is a prophetic artist in all sorts of different ways: installation, junk sculpture, fascination with new technologies, performance art, collaborations
22 November 2016
The Art of Rivalry is a relief in art critical terms. It is well and clearly written, with no pretentions. Sebastian Smee is currently the art critic for the Boston Globe, where he has been since 2008.
22 November 2016
Damien Hirst has become a major patron, in addition to being a celebrated artist. When he stages a show at his Great Newport Street Gallery, which is one of the most handsome art spaces in London, though not alas one blessed with good links to public transport, pretty well everything you see will be items that belong to him. This is the case with the aptly entitled Who What When How & Why, a solo show for his fellow YBA Gavin Turk. It’s a significant alliance in more ways than one.
15 November 2016
I’ve just made a visit – a first but not the last, I hope – to the much talked about Hauser & Wirth set up near Bruton in Somerset. I already knew their rather grand gallery situated on Savile Row in London, where it jostles elbows, so to speak, with our city’s grandest purveyors of […]
14 November 2016
When I visited the Royal Academy’s in many ways excellent new show devoted to the Belgian Symbolist/Expressionist painter James Ensor, I was, much as I enjoyed it, haunted by an uneasy feeling. Not only that I was missing something, but that the curator, the distinguished Belgian contemporary artist Luc Tuymans, had somehow missed something too. Missed it, or averted his […]
4 November 2016
Sean Scully now increasingly seems like the most remarkable abstract painter of his generation – this, at a time when abstract art, abstract painting, in particular, is increasingly under attack.
28 October 2016
The elegant new Paul Nash retrospective just opened at Tate Britain offers a welcome contrast to some of the dismal offerings that have been unveiled there in the recent past. It celebrates an important British artist and does so in a thoroughgoing way.
16 October 2016
Never previously have the Frieze Art Fairs here in London seemed larger, grander, or surer of their place in the universe of contemporary culture.
15 October 2016
London is unusually rich in important exhibitions at the moment, and sometimes these events seem to enter into a dialogue with each other. This is especially the case with the Picasso portrait show now at the National Portrait Gallery and the big Abstract Expressionist exhibition on offer at the Royal Academy. Abstract Expressionism was, among […]
13 October 2016
The new Beyond Caravaggio show in the sepulchral depths of the new wing of the National Gallery deserves to draw a large and enthusiastic public and will in all probability do so.
1 October 2016
In the past, David Hockney has frequently irritated art history professionals with his insistent theorising about how certain kinds of Old Master paintings were made, with, as he claims, the use of various optical devices. The historians claim that there is, in most cases, no absolute contemporary proof that this was the case. Why they ask, did those who might have spoken […]
27 September 2016
Since its heyday in the 1990s, when it helped to establish the reputation of the last really significant art movement in Britain – or perhaps anywhere else – that of the so-called YBAs or Younger British Artists – the Turner Prize has been in decline.
24 September 2016
The experience of exile, deracination, was fundamental to Wifredo Lam’s career as an artist, even more so that it was too – say – the experience of the Russian emigré artists who left Russia after the Revolution, or that of the born-elsewhere Americans who played such a prominent role in the Abstract Expressionist movement. Lam made a successful career as […]
22 September 2016
The new Abstract Expressionism show that just opened in the main galleries of the Royal Academy at Burlington House, is an absolutely splendid affair. If you can only see one exhibition during a day out in London, see this one, and leave Tate Modern on the other side of the Thames to its own populist devices. The range and quality […]
9 September 2016
The V&A’s new, all singing all dancing exhibition has a cumbersome title: You Say You want A Revolution? – Records and Rebels 1966-1970. As the title itself indicates, it does nevertheless cover a very short space of time – less than a decade. I can’t say I was fully part of the revolution in question. Already too old in 1966, […]
The person who rode herd on Frances Bacon during the time that he was represented by the Marlborough Gallery – insofar, that is to say, as anyone could, in fact, ride herd on that raffish old queen – was an upright (some say uptight) lady called Valerie Beston. Since her death, there has been a trust founded in […]
I’m looking forward to the Art Business conference due to be held at Church House here in London on Thursday 1st December and hope to report on what is said there. However, looking at the programme, some aspects of it seem to dodge important issues. It’s all well and good, for example, to discuss the art market in Dubai and the […]
In recent years the word ‘appropriation’ has become a fashionable, obliquely commendatory term used in discussions of contemporary art. The implication is that making use of a borrowed image is somehow a radically original thing to do. The less you change that image, the better. In particular, used in this context, the word also implies the existence of an unspoken conspiracy between […]
Deep in August, gazing at the rather forlorn contemporary art landscape that is standard for this time of year, when major exhibition openings are lacking, I’m left wondering why in fact it seems a good deal more forlorn than I expect. This, despite the fact that the new extension at Tate Modern continues to attract thousands upon thousands of visitors. Also […]
4 August 2016
Raqib Shaw seems like one of those grandee artists who have suddenly appeared out of nowhere. That is, till you do a bit of research on the Web, and discover just what, and how much, you’ve been missing. Calcutta born, raised in Kashmir, now living and working in London, he’s had solo shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, […]
August is nearly here – the time when the contemporary art world in London begins its annual snooze, to wake up, hopefully refreshed, some time in mid-September. It’s the moment to draw breath, sit down and take stock. It’s hard to think of any comparable six months when events have been more tumultuous. In the art world itself, there […]
16 July 2016
A number of the major commercial galleries in London now offer shows which are, in terms of interest and quality, very much on a level with what one finds in London’s major public galleries. The new exhibition at Blain/Southern in Hanover Square offers a good example of this. Entitled Carlo Carrà, Metaphysical Spaces, it considers the career of one of the […]
6 July 2016
Georgia O’Keeffe, now the subject of a large solo show just opened at Tate Modern, is a slightly odd case in the story of American art. She became famous very early, thanks to the efforts of her patron, lover and eventual husband Alfred Stieglitz, who, in addition to being a leading Modern Movement photographer, was […]
In this latest opinion piece Edward Lucie-Smith gives us the low down on London’s ‘most significant’ cultural building since the new British Library No-one can doubt that Tate Modern, with its vast new extension, a wonky brick castle designed by Herzog and de Meuron, intends to change the art world. More specifically, the world of contemporary art, now […]