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Edinburgh Art Festival: what not to miss

30 July 2014

As the Commonwealth Games draw to a close in Glasgow, attention is turning as usual to Edinburgh and its annual festival (8–31 August). But the visual arts are jumping the gun. The Edinburgh Art Festival, a city-wide celebration of fine art, opens tomorrow (indeed, many of its related exhibitions have been open for a while). If you’re heading to the Scottish capital this year and fancy a break from the Fringe and flyering, here are a few of the shows you should visit.

‘Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland’ at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Scotland’s flagship summer exhibition ‘Generation’ is actually a nationwide initiative, celebrating the significant contribution of Scottish artists to the international art scene. But its biggest manifestation is in Edinburgh. A huge three-venue display includes work by some of the country’s biggest names, including Martin Boyce, Callum Innes and Karla Black.

‘Jim Lambie’, at the Fruitmarket Gallery (until 19 October)

Lambie has transformed the gallery space with his colourful sculptural ‘interventions’. On the ground level, mirrored ladders disorientate the room; on the first floor is Zobop (1999), his famous vinyl piece which covers the ground with tight lines of colour.

‘Katie Paterson: Ideas’, at Ingleby Gallery (until 27 September)

Katie Paterson introduces huge ideas with small gestures. One of the works here tells the history of the Earth by way of a necklace – each bead made from a different fossil representing a different geological age. Other pieces look further afield, to satellites, meteorites, and space.

‘Isa Genzken: Botanical Garden’ at Inverleith House (until 28 September)

This is the first solo exhibition of Genzken’s work in Scotland. The influential German sculptor was pioneering in her early use of computer programmes, and has also worked extensively with sound, light, and other unusual media to explore some of the contradictory aspects of contemporary life.

‘American Impressionism: A New Vision’, at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (until 19 October)

This exhibition explores the impact of Impressionism on artists who hailed from the other side of the Atlantic. It looks at some of the movement’s most influential champions – Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, James McNeil Whistler – but also several other artists less well known in Europe.

‘Ming: The Golden Empire’ at the National Museum of Scotland (until 19 October)

Looking still further afield, the National Museum of Scotland has collaborated with the Nanjing Museum to mount a display of Ming Dynasty treasures. Exhibits range from an early painting of Beijing’s Forbidden City, to exquisite examples of the period’s famous blue and white porcelain.

For a full programme of fine art events and exhibition in the city, visit the Edinburgh Art Festival website. The festival runs until 31 August.

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