Art & Architecture

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Reviews

Howard Hodgkin: What's in a name?

Is Howard Hodgkin a conceptual artist? Well, as every Hodgkin-lover learns, his paintings encapsulate intense episodes from his personal life. But then, as every Hodgkin-lover finds, the translation of paint back into life isn't straightforward. There's a gap between the painting you're looking at and the experience it's supposed to hold.

Inside Reviews

Jorge Pardo, Haunch of Venison, London (Rated 2/ 5 )

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

In a recent interview, the artist Jorge Pardo, responded, when asked about the effect on his work of growing up under the political and economic system in Cuba, which formed the backdrop to his youth, that he was a "post-Marxist" who didn't "believe in any of that shit".

Preview: For Your Eyes Only - Ian Fleming And James Bond, Imperial War Museum, London

Monday, 7 April 2008

Daniel Craig's blood-stained shirt from Casino Royale and Q's travelling-case from A View to a Kill will go on show in the first major exhibition dedicated to the life and work of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.

You write the reviews: Brilliant Women - 18th-century, Bluestockings, National Portrait Gallery, London (Rated 5/ 5 )

Monday, 7 April 2008

With the recent news of the imminent demise of women's studies as a valid academic pursuit, it seems a feat of remarkable timing that an invigorating show about precisely that, the study of women's history, should be mounted at the National Portrait Gallery. Brilliant Women: 18th-century Bluestockings is a collection of contemporary portraits and artefacts from the Georgian period concerning the bas bleu, a group of influential female movers and shakers who were loosely connected by some fundamental shared values.

Coming of Age, Dulwich Picture Gallery London
The American Scene, British Museum London

Sunday, 6 April 2008

I would normally avoid singling out any work as the most important in a show, though there is no way of doing so with Josef Albers' Bent Back (A) and Dulwich Picture Gallery's Coming of Age: American Art 1850s to 1950s. Albers' abstract, of 1940, looks like an open door, and so it is. Step through it, and you're in the last room and decade of this silly exhibition – the moment when American art finally gets around to doing what the show's title has promised it will.

Neo-classicism at the Tate: Drama school

Monday, 31 March 2008

Cartoonists have their shorthand symbols, their ways of getting something over quickly and clearly. If the subject is opera, say, then of course they do a fat woman in a horned helmet. Or if it's theatre, they do a man gesticulating in doublet and hose. Wagner, Shakespeare: yes, it makes a kind of sense that these should have become the iconic clichés. But if the subject is art? Well, what they probably do is a neo-classical statue – smooth, white, nude, poised, standing on a plinth. Which is odd, because we don't spend much time in art galleries actually looking at such things.

Laura Knight at the Theatre, The Lowry, Manchester (Rated 2/ 5 )

Monday, 31 March 2008

The painter Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970) made a tremendous splash during her lifetime. She was elected to the Royal Academy in 1936, the first woman to be made an Academician since the institution was founded in the 18th century (two women were among the body's founder members). A major retrospective of her work took place there in 1965. Her works were acquired by many of the major galleries in the then far-flung British Empire.

Preview: Unseen Britain Unveiled, La Galleria, Royal Opera Arcade, London

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Daredevil climber and photographer Mike Robertson scaled the outside of Blackpool Tower earlier this year and took pictures from nearly 158 metres up while hanging on to the steelwork.

Outlines, Gimpel Fils, London (Rated 3/ 5 )

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

In 1995, Michael Craig-Martin curated an excellent exhibition, Drawing the Line, which brought together drawings from prehistory to the present, placing them in unusual juxtapositions that encouraged the viewer to reappraise many of the works. Craig-Martin claimed that drawings are "the great secret of art: vast in number, mostly unknown, often thought of as secondary, rarely reproduced, and, because of their sensitivity to light, seldom seen".

Hughie O'Donoghue: The Geometry of Paths, James Hyman Gallery, London (Rated 4/ 5 )

Monday, 24 March 2008

In a culture that values solipsistic irony over the heroic and the mythic, Hughie O'Donoghue's intensely serious paintings rather stand alone. Because the contemporary art world is so highly commodified, artists tend to produce work that conforms to a recognisable "brand", with the result that any serious questions about the human condition often seem secondary.

Jorge Pardo, Haunch of Venison, London

Sunday, 23 March 2008

It occasionally happens that an artist's work is so puzzling, so ambiguous and sphynx-like, that you come away from it with two equally tenable views: that the art you've just seen is too subtle for you to understand, or that you do get it and it's dross. I'm still not sure which is true of Jorge Pardo's show at Haunch of Venison.

More reviews:

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