Guardian Unlimited Arts

Guardian Unlimited Arts

Latest art and design news, comment and analysis from the Guardian
  1. After Disneyland, Venice Beach is the second largest tourist attraction in southern California and over a three-year period, photographer Dotan Saguy captured the artists, bodybuilders, musicians, vendors and homeless people who made up the diverse community. With gentrification creeping in, his work, documented in a book and an exhibition at the Venice Arts Gallery in Los Angeles, acts as a snapshot of a way of life that might fade away

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  2. The artist says his mother was ‘difficult’, as Bath museum plans exhibition on early work

    Grayson Perry, the Turner-prize winning artist, has spoken of the troubled relationship he had with his mother and her mental health problems.

    The artist, 58, did not attend the funeral of his mother Jean Dines, who died a week short of her 80th birthday after suffering a stroke in 2016.

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  3. Graves Gallery, Sheffield
    From decapitated heads to squares smoking cigarettes, each of these depictions says something about what it means to exist

    Portraiture is an enduring art form, thanks to the narcissistic tendencies of the human race. As far back as 28,000BC we were carving our image into rocks in Brazil, and this obsession with our own appearance has remained popular ever since: in 2017, 8.1 million visitors traipsed round the Louvre to stare at the lingering smile of the Mona Lisa, while every single day, social media is awash with selfies.

    Which is why the aptly named Heads Roll at Graves Gallery, Sheffield – a show that focuses entirely on portraits and the depiction of the human form – is a mesmerising treasure trove. Curated by Sheffield-based artist Paul Morrison (best known for monochrome botanical paintings, prints and sculptures), the exhibition includes a dazzling array of portraiture spanning over 400 years and features 60 artists working across print, paint, sculpture and word art.

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  4. The state of New South Wales is 100% in drought. Farmers are struggling with failing crops, low water supply and diminishing livestock feed. From ground level, the earth looks a brown dustbowl, but from the air it is transformed into an artwork of colour and texture. Photographer David Gray has captured the scenes using a drone

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  5. His shocking shows – featuring births, enemas and vomiting – thrilled and appalled. Two decades after his death, why is the influence of this 80s nightclub legend still so pervasive?

    He was painted naked and sprawling by Lucian Freud. He “gave birth” to his own wife on stage, using sausages as an umbilical cord. And he was the star turn in Taboo, perhaps the most debauched nightclub Britain has ever seen, hosting the revelry with his face painted blue, his nose and nipples pierced and his outfit as intimidatingly outlandish as possible. But there was much more to Leigh Bowery than sheer outrageousness – and his range, daring and influence are now starting to be appreciated by a new generation.

    Perhaps the most prominent sign of this reappraisal comes from Australian choreographer Andy Howitt, who is bringing Sunshine Boy, a new show about the nightlife legend, to the Edinburgh fringe this summer. “I was at the National Gallery in Melbourne and there was a big sculpture that said, ‘By Leigh Bowery from Sunshine’,” he says. “I was like, ‘That can’t be the Leigh Bowery from the 80s dance scene.’ It sparked me on a journey to find out about the man.”

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  6. The story of bushranger Ned Kelly and his gang of outlaws has become the stuff of Australian legend, but nobody captured the essence of the story in a way that resonated with the public quite like modernist artist Sidney Nolan. In a series comprising more than two dozen paintings, Nolan depicted everything from the Kelly family’s domestic life to their violent run-ins with the police. Now, Nolan’s famous Ned Kelly series is showing at the Art Gallery of Western Australia for a short time. Curator Deborah Hart gave Guardian Australia a preview of some of the works

    Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series is showing at Art Gallery of Western Australia until 12 November

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  7. Feilden Fowles is scooping up all the best work. Is this because their HQ is also a farm?

    Lambs are bleating, pigs are snuffling and a chicken is wandering about between planters spilling over with tomatoes and courgettes. All this is just a short walk from the teetering towers of Southbank Place, where £10m apartments are rising in stacks behind the London Eye. But there’s a very different type of regeneration going on in this city farm, which sits on a sliver of land in Lambeth, between the tangled tracks of Waterloo station and the slabs of St Thomas’ hospital. Today the animals are going about their business while a group of young architects are toiling away in a low-slung studio shed at the other end of the site from a great wooden barn.

    “The name Lambeth originally means ‘landing place for lambs’,” says architect Fergus Feilden. “So it’s sort of fitting that we’ve brought them back here.”

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  8. Foundling Museum, London
    Lily Cole’s moving short film is a fine addition to the Foundling Museum’s fascinating art collection

    Two girls appear on a split screen, one black, one white. Each is anxiously rocking a baby. One after the other, they are called before a panel of grave-faced men to be questioned about their children. Or rather, to be asked how they came to be pregnant in the first place, whether the conception was forced upon them, and in what circumstances. What will they do if the baby is accepted, asks the senior inquisitor, strictness rising in his voice. And have the girls attended Sunday school?

    This is the opening twist in artist and model Lily Cole’s fine new film for the Foundling Museum. The disjuncture between past and present is deliberate. For although these scenes are filmed in contemporary times, conveying the hardships of teenage single mothers in council flats, parts of the script are taken directly from the transcripts of actual cases that came before Thomas Coram’s Foundling hospital for 19th-century children whose mothers could not keep them.

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  9. Jerwood Gallery, Hastings
    Ingeniously manipulated images and films of people trying to fly or stay airborne give a humorous twist to the Icarus myth

    Icarus, in the Greek myth, tries to escape the island of Crete wearing wings of wax and feather. He flies too high and the sun melts his contraption. The dream of flight fails, a moment depicted by Bruegel in his masterpiece LandscapeWiththe Fall of Icarus as perhaps less heroic than absurd. Bruegel’s Icarus is nothing more than a pair of tiny legs, barely seen at the bottom of the picture: joke limbs vanishing into the ocean.

    This is very much the spirit of Mark Wallinger’s new show beside the sea in Hastings. Icarus everywhere presides. You see him made modern in a gallery of outlandish photographs of English men and women lurching into midair; in a sequence of films expressly titled Landscape With the Fall of Icarus; in a mirrored installation and an antic ballet on video. He is the inspiration for Wallinger’s ruminations on bodies moving through space and falling back to Earth. The smallest version of this event – the most modest flight, as it were – being the humble human leap.

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  10. Touchstone, Rochdale
    From sand-filled tights to a BDSM portrait, this Lancashire gallery gets a major lift with a provocative show

    For a long time, a painting by Jessica Etchells hung in Rochdale Art Gallery was presumed to have been painted by her brother, artist and architect Frederick Etchells. Jessica, born in Stockport in 1892, had studied at art school, moved to London and worked both for Roger Fry’s Omega Workshop and, later, Wyndham Lewis’s Rebel Art Centre. It was only in 1980 that the painting was identified as being her work. Now, this lowering still life hangs next to two works by the American artist Sherrie Levine – one is a photograph titled Untitled (After Walker Evans), the other a drawing “After” Henri Matisse. The Matisse is a direct, watercolour copy of a Matisse drawing, while Levine’s photograph reproduces a famous Walker Evans, rephotographed by Levine from a catalogue of the late photographer’s work.

    Levine’s appropriations of Matisse and Evans are plays on authorship and originality, and on the supposed singular vision of the male artist. There is something poignant about the juxtaposition of Levine and Etchells. There’s a lesson here, retold and expanded in Herstory, an exhibition of work, all by women artists, combining loans to Rochdale by the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo collection in Turin, and works from the museum’s own collection.

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