Reviews

Imitation Lesson; Her Shadowed Influence from ‘A Countervailing Theory’ (2019), Toyin Ojih Odutola. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; © © Toyin Ojih Odutola

Master class – a fictional civilisation makes its mark at the Barbican

Toyin Ojih Odutola’s scenes of a race of women warriors are a tour de force in pastel, charcoal and chalk

17 Sep 2020
Nude, East Sussex Coast (detail; 1959), Bill Brandt.

Common ground – the elemental forms of Bill Brandt and Henry Moore

The first exhibition to bring the sculptor and photographer together reveals intriguing points of convergence between their work

12 Sep 2020
Citizen Tallien in a Cell in La Force Prison, Holding Her Cut Hair (detail), (1796), Jean-Louis Laneuville. Private collection. Photo: courtesy Yale University Press; © Christies Images/Bridgeman Images

The women who wanted to look like living statues

A study of neoclassical dress in the 1790s shows that fashion can be a serious business

4 Sep 2020
The frontispiece and opening of the MS 411 psalter.

What’s left of Thomas Becket? – ‘The Book in the Cathedral’, reviewed

Christopher de Hamel argues that a book of psalms in a Cambridge library is the only surviving relic of the murdered archbishop

4 Sep 2020
(1936), Barnett Freedman for London Transport.

‘Britain’s most visible artist’ – Barnett Freedman at Pallant House, reviewed

Freedman’s engaging designs were once impossible to avoid – and his lesser-known war paintings are a revelation

1 Sep 2020
Draftsmen’s Congress (2020), Paweł Althamer. Installation view at the 2nd Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, RIBOCA2, 2020.

How the Riga Biennial adapted to a world changed by Covid-19

With a shortened run and reimagined artworks – plus, of course, social distancing – the exhibition has embraced the need to adapt

28 Aug 2020
John Giorno (1936–2019).

New York confidential – John Giorno’s memoir, reviewed

In his posthumously published memoir, the poet recollects his life as a lover of some of the greats of the New York art scene

27 Aug 2020
Carlton House: the Blue Drawing Room (detail; c. 1816), Charles Wild

Acquired taste – the fashion for French interiors in Britain

Dealers played a pivotal role in creating a demand for ancien–régime style across the Channel

22 Aug 2020
Seen – Edmonia Lewis

A biography of Edmonia Lewis takes on a life of its own

A meticulously researched graphic novel about the sculptor Edmonia Lewis is a suitably original tribute to the enterprising artist

21 Aug 2020
Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs (detail; 1928).

‘The Man Who Laughs’ is a cautionary tale about grinning and bearing it

The inspiration behind Batman’s Joker and many a monster movie, Paul Leni’s ‘The Man Who Laughs’ is a masterpiece of Expressionist cinema

19 Aug 2020
Jan Six XI in front of Rembrandt’s ‘Portrait of a Young Gentleman’ (1635) in ‘My Rembrandt’. Courtesy Dogwoof.

How to own a Rembrandt

An engaging documentary profiles the collectors who possess – or would like to possess – paintings by the Dutch master

14 Aug 2020
Got To Keep On (2019), installation by The Chemical Brothers and Smith & Lyall.

The Design Museum takes to the dance floor

An exhibition dedicated to the music of the future may be too respectful of its past

12 Aug 2020
After Tsunami Galu Afi, Lalomanu (2013), Yuki Kihara. Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Sea change – a fresh perspective on the art of Oceania

A rehang of Christchurch Art Gallery’s permanent collections emphasises non-European patterns of influence

12 Aug 2020
John Cage foraging in Grenoble, France, in 1971.

Morel compass – John Cage’s mania for mushrooms

For the avant-garde composer, mushroom-foraging was closely linked to his ideas about sound and spontaneity

The Return of the Prodigal Son (detail; 1660s), Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

Bible belters – in praise of Murillo’s Prodigal Son paintings

The six paintings have long languished in relative obscurity. Restored and on view in Dublin, they are finally getting their due

3 Aug 2020
The remains of a late medieval church in Garryvoe , Co Cork.

Celtic revival? Recording Ireland’s historic buildings

Would that the Buildings of Ireland series could be completed – the architectural riches of Central Leinster and Cork are well served by two new volumes

28 Jul 2020
The eight ‘bionauts’ of Biosphere 2. Courtesy NEON

The space odyssey that went nowhere – ‘Spaceship Earth’, reviewed

Before ‘Big Brother’, there was Biosphere 2 – an experiment in utopian living that left its participants low on food and short of breath

20 Jul 2020
From Transparencies: Small Camera Works 1971–1979 by Stephen Shore (MACK).

Keeping it casual – Stephen Shore’s encounters with the everyday

Taken on his road trips across America, the photographer’s images from the 1970s are in a class of their own

17 Jul 2020
‘Mexican taste’, plate 35 from Presentation and History of the Taste of the Leading Nations (1796–99) by Joseph Friedrich zu Racknitz.

World views – revisiting an 18th-century survey of global style

Joseph Friedrich zu Racknitz’s four-volume treatise, newly translated and edited, deserves to be more widely read

Group of People, Gerhard Richter.

The restlessness of Gerhard Richter

A short-lived retrospective at the Met Breuer revelled in the German artist’s formal inventiveness – and his long engagement with history

26 Jun 2020
Installation view of Vierkantrohre Serie D (Square Tubes Series D) at Frankfurt airport in 1967.

Boxing clever – the playful sculptures of Charlotte Posenenske

The German artist is closely linked with conceptual and minimalist art, but her DIY approach was quite singular

24 Jun 2020
Self-portrait at the Easel (detail; c. 1556), Sofonisba Anguissola.

Learned behaviour – the successful career of Sofonisba Anguissola

Should we see the painter as a Renaissance feminist or as a product of her upbringing?

23 Jun 2020
Karl-Bertil Nordland and Barbora Kysilkova in The Painter and the Thief.

Stolen glances – The Painter and the Thief, reviewed

A documentary about the unlikely friendship between an artist and the man who stole her work raises tantalising questions about image-making and ownership

19 Jun 2020
Untitled (1986) Donald Judd. Hessel Museum of Art, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale‑on‑Hudson, New York.

Good form – the minimalist magic of Donald Judd

A recent display at MoMA revealed the unexplored depths of an artist whose work sometimes seems all surface

18 Jun 2020