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Amazing shots of the black dandy

The Photographers' Gallery's new show looks at the history of black dandyism

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The latest art reviews

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The Neo Naturists

There was a lot of naked performance art happening in the ’70s and ’80s, but maybe none of it quite as jolly as the shows put on by the Neo Naturists. Unlike confrontational groups such as Coum Transmissions – known for the blood and discomfort in their performances – the Neo-Naturists’ approach to free-form expression was more, well, Benny Hill. 

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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William Eggleston Portraits

Legendary Memphis photographer William Eggleston has created a whole genre of psychologically ambiguous Americana, much of it centred on apparently mundane bits of his home town. I expected that isolating his portraits from the rest of his work wouldn’t work. How would they fare, without all those existential landscapes and unanswered questions to problematise them?

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Raqib Shaw: Self Portrait

Absolutely ludicrous. That’s what Raqib Shaw’s art is. And it’s hard to express just how ludicrous it all is, really. His paintings are big, Renaissance-inspired maelstroms of death, gold, hybrid animals, gaping fanged vaginas and screaming skeletons. He’s the art world’s own Liberace, a Kashmir-born Brit with the most ridiculous taste on earth.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Ragnar Kjartansson

The first piece in Ragnar Kjartansson’s Barbican show features ten male performers playing the guitar, singing in Icelandic and drinking beer. Playing on a screen behind them is a soft-focus sex scene, from a 1970s Icelandic movie, between a housewife and a plumber. As with all the work in this exhibition, it’s context that brings it to life: the on-screen lovers are the artist’s actor parents, and the guitarists are singing their dialogue. 

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Must-see art exhibitions in London

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Lukas Duwenhogger: You Might Become A Park

Initially, I wasn’t very impressed by Lukas Duwenhögger’s paintings. Then I was. The works of this German artist, who has lived in Istanbul since 2000, have a distinctive Ottoman sensibility, both sunlit and sinister: a superficial queer theatre of languorous fabulousness, shot through anxiety. The settings are fluid, moving from an operatic nineteenth century into a gilded 1930s and on. It always seems to be the afternoon, waiting to see what the evening will bring. Individually, the works suggest dreams; collectively, they hint at an unspoken history of persecution and betrayal. There is a special delight in seeing Duwenhögger in the Georgian, domestic elegance of Raven Row. As you climb its four floors, as the scale of the galleries contracts, the paintings take on a more vivid intimacy. An installation on the top floor, ‘Probleema’, hangs five small works in a wooden shed: four men around a table in the midst of some kind of argument look across at four individual paintings of men in the street seen from behind. As in a lot of Duwenhögger’s works, the tensions – sexual, political, cultural, temporal – are strung across the room like wires. One of the most overt works is the model ‘The Celestial Teapot’, a ludicrous ‘proposal for a memorial site for the persecuted homosexuals of National Socialism in Berlin’. At the top of a tower, and surmounted by a conch shell, the titular vessel has human arms: one hand on hip, one limply waving. However you are memorialised, Duwenhö

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Georgia O'Keeffe

Forty-four million dollars is a lot of money. That’s how much someone spent on a painting by the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) in 2014. It set a record for a work of art by a woman. That last part there is important, because the most ever paid for a work of art by a man is around $300m. O’Keeffe doesn’t even make the top 50, not even close.  In the art world, women are simply worth less. And not just financially. Throughout art history women have consistently been ignored. But modernism would be an entirely different beast without O’Keeffe. This retrospective is herfirst show in the UK in 20 years and, with none of her paintings displayed here in public galleries, it is depressingly overdue.  The show takes you from her early abstracts through to her landscapes of New Mexico, and she deserves every inch of space she’s been given. The early works, all charcoal swoops and stark lines, ease you into her world. A neat appetiser for the explosion of colour that follows in her early paintings, filled with twisting shapes, hooded curves and plunging lines in bold, contrasting watercolour. Then there are her flower paintings, including that $44.4m masterpiece, before you’re shoved head first into the desert of New Mexico, which she painted obsessively. You’re going to look at some of these and think: Hold on, that looks an awful lot like a vagina (see our blog about that here). It’s an idea she repeatedly rejected. But if you’re looking for vaginas, you’ll also find

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Jorge Otero-Pailos: The Ethics of Dust

Seriously, ‘The Ethics of Dust’ is a terrible name for a work of art. Yes, it’s taken from something written by John Ruskin, but out of context it sounds like a philosophical treatise by Kim and Aggie (‘How morally clean is your house?’). Fortunately, Spanish preservationist and artist Jorge Otero-Pailos makes better art than his titles suggest. And for this latest Artangel commission, he’s filled Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament with one of the best sculptures you’ll see this summer. The idea is simple: in the process of cleaning this Unesco world heritage site’s walls, the artist covered them in latex and peeled it off to trap centuries of pollution, dust and dirt. The result is two huge sheets hanging from the rafters in the 900-year-old hall. And it’s absolutely stunning. Stark and minimal, but literally full of history. In all this dust and muck you’ll find centuries of political wrangling, hundreds of years of decisions that have shaped the fate of Great Britain. It’s like he’s peeled layers of skin of the walls and hung them from the ceiling. Disraeli’s dandruff, Cromwell’s skin flakes, John Major’s ancient, coughed-up saliva – it’s all probably here, glued into these giant latex curtains.   The work has to fight against the grandeur of this ancient space, the flocks of jabbering school kids and the occasional panicked MP rushing by. It survives – thrives, even – because of its beautiful simplicity.   Hanging there, glowing, it looks like some ancient

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Mary Heilmann

Mary Heilmann is first and foremost a painter – though she never intended to be. Growing up amongst surfers and beatniks in California, she moved to New York in 1968 and found the city full of minimalists proclaiming the medium dead. She made a go of it as a sculptor, but after struggling in a bloke-dominated scene, contrarily moved to painting, nurturing her bright, breezy brand of abstraction. Although she uses minimalist devices like grids and squares, Heilmann has always kept one eye fixed on the world around her. ‘311 Castro Street’ (2001) is named after her gran’s house – it’s the same colour as the wallpaper. ‘Bush of Ghosts’ (1980) is a tribute to the Brian Eno and David Byrne album. ‘Good Vibrations’ (2012), with its multicoloured dots freckling the wall, is her take on an acid trip. Her delicate, domestic-scale ceramics, meanwhile, feel like a riposte to her male peers and their fondness for heavy-duty industrial materials. Heilman has no problem taking the odd leap into figuration now and again. A painting of an empty chair is a veiled elegy to friends lost during the Aids epidemic. And best of all, there’s the recent pictures of highways and ocean waves – so hopelessly cool you half-expect to hear the ‘Drive’ soundtrack playing in the background.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama is one of those artists whose mythology often overshadows her work. Now 87 years old, she has had a litany of avant-garde terms thrown her way over the years – conceptualist, feminist, minimalist – and was an indisputably huge influence on pop art giants including Andy Warhol. Having done her time on the 1960s’ New York scene, in the early 1970s Kusama returned to Tokyo, checked herself into a mental institution and has lived there willingly ever since – travelling to her nearby studio to work. Add to this personal history her colourful dress sense (with bright wigs and polka-dotted smocks, she is like one of her own patterned paintings come to life) and her record-breaking auction results, and, well, the myth builds itself. But now on to the artwork itself. This ambitious new exhibition of paintings, sculptures and installations across two sites – Victoria Miro galleries on Wharf Road in Old Street and on St George Street in Mayfair – is teeming with Kusama’s continuing preoccupations: pattern, repetition, mirrored ‘infinity rooms’ and huge, distended pumpkins. It’s not hard to believe her claim that she has experienced hallucinations since childhood. Or, by extension, to think that she harnesses such visions through the act of creation. Especially when standing in the ‘All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins’ room. Here, you’re surrounded by a sea of the artist’s signature dotted gourd-shape lanterns, which seem to undulate while their shadow selves stret

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Upcoming art exhibitions in London

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Abstract Expressionism

Autumn 2016 at the RA is all about New York in the 1940s and ’50s, as this blockbuster survey of abstract expressionism brings together the big deals, bad boys and prodigious boozers of the era. It’s sure to be a swaggeringly audacious show. Abstract expressionism, with its love of spontaneity, automatic and unconscious forms, marks the moment when America took over from Paris as the crucible of modern art (whether or not you believe the theories about CIA involvement in its post-war rise to prominence). 

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Turner Prize

Over the years the coveted art prize’s annual exhibition has caused quite a stir. It’s been criticised for being sexist, politically incorrect, elitist and out of touch. Lack of sponsorship funds threatened the continuation of the prize in 1990 until Channel 4 stepped in to save the day. And Martin Creed’s winning exhibit in 2001 ‘The lights going on and off’ divided the art-loving nation. Celebrating its 32nd year, the Turner Prize returns to Tate Britain with four shortlisted artists all competing for the £25,000 prize money.

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  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Guerrilla Girls

The feminist activist group looks at the Whitechapel Gallery’s history of exhibiting female artists including Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, Sarah Lucas and Bridget Riley for this Archive display. Founded in 1985 by an anonymous group of artists to expose the inequality of the male dominated art world, culture in general and politics, the Guerrilla Girls will don their gorilla masks and scan their critical eye over this east London institution. Will we like what they find?

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Picasso Portraits

The National Portrait Gallery's major autumn 2016 exhibition traces the development of Pablo Picasso through the portraits he painted throughout his life – from child genius to the most famous artist in the world. Featuring around 80 works, the show reveals the many ways in which he captured a sitter's likeness and rewrote the rules of portraiture – through caricature, formal study and spontaneous expression, sometimes from memory. Expect masterpieces such as his cubist portrait of his art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as portraits of Guillaume Apollinaire, Jean Cocteau and Jean Cocteau among paintings of Picasso's acquaintances, friends, family members and lovers. Every Friday, 100 tickets for this blockbuster will be available for a bargainous £5.

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The 40 best photos of London ever taken

Our (almost) definitive list of the best photographs ever taken of the capital

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Free art in London

See all London's free art exhibitions this week

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Latest art interviews

We speak to the biggest names and emerging talent in the art world

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The 100 best paintings in London

Our expert guide to the best paintings in the capital

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What's on at

Art

Barbican Centre

The Barbican Centre, a vast concrete estate of 2,000 flats and a leading arts complex, is a prime example of brutalist architecture, softened a little by time and rectangular ponds of friendly resident ducks. The lakeside terrace and adjoining café are good spots to take a rest from visiting the art gallery, cinema, theatre, concert hall or library within the complex. The art gallery on the third floor stages exhibitions on design, architecture and pop culture, while on the ground floor, the Curve is a free exhibition space for specially commissioned works and contemporary art. At the core of the music roster, performing 90 concerts a year, is the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). The annual BITE season (Barbican International Theatre Events) continues to cherry-pick exciting and eclectic theatre companies from around the globe. The Barbican regularly attracts and nurtures experimental dance, and the Pit Theatre is a perfectly intimate space.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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National Gallery

Founded in 1824 to display a collection of just 36 paintings, today the National Gallery is home to more than 2,000 works. There are masterpieces from virtually every European school of art. The modern Sainsbury Wing extension contains the gallery’s earliest works: Italian paintings by early masters like Giotto and Piero della Francesca. The basement of the Sainsbury Wing is also the setting for temporary exhibitions. In the West Wing are Italian Renaissance masterpieces by Correggio, Titian and Raphael; in the North Wing, seventeenth-century Dutch, Flemish, Italian and Spanish Old Masters. In the East Wing (reached via the street-level entrance in Trafalgar Square) are some of the gallery’s most popular paintings: works by the French Impressionists and post-Impressionists, including on of Monet’s water lily paintings and one of Van Gogh’s sunflowers series. You can’t see everything in one visit to the National Gallery, but the free guided tours and audio guides will help you make the most of your time. There’s also a wonderfully atmospheric café stocked with Oliver Peyton goodies, and a fine-dining restaurant, the National Dining Rooms.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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National Portrait Gallery

Portraits don't have to be stuffy. The National Portrait Gallery has everything from oil paintings of stiff-backed royals to photos of soccer stars and gloriously unflattering political caricatures. The portraits of musicians, scientists, artists, philanthropists and celebrities are arranged in chronological order from the top to the bottom of the building. At the top of the escalator up from the main foyer are the earliest works, portraits of Tudor and Stuart royals and notables. On the same floor, the eighteenth-century collection features Georgian writers and artists, with one room devoted to the influential Kit-Cat Club of Whig (leftish) intellectuals, Congreve and Dryden among them. More famous names here include Wren and Swift. The Duveen Extension contains Regency greats, military men such as Wellington and Nelson, as well as Byron, Wordsworth and other Romantics. The first floor is devoted to the Victorians (Dickens, Brunel, Darwin) and, in the Duveen Extension, the twentieth century. One of the NPG's most popular highlights is the annual BP Portrait Award where the best entrants for the prestigious prize are exhibited.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Tate Britain

Tate Modern gets all the attention, but the original Tate Gallery, founded by sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate, has a broader and more inclusive brief. Housed in a stately Portland stone building on the riverside, Tate Britain is second only to the National Gallery when it comes to British art. The historical collection includes work by Hogarth, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Constable (who gets three rooms to himself) and Turner (whose works are displayed in the grand Clore Gallery). Many contemporary works were shifted to Tate Modern when it opened in 2000, but Stanley Spencer, Lucian Freud, David Hockney and Francis Bacon are well represented here, and the Art Now installations showcase up-and-coming British artists. The gallery also hosts the controversy-courting Turner Prize exhibition (Oct-Jan). The gallery has a good restaurant and a well-stocked gift shop, and the handy Tate-to-Tate boat service zips along the Thames to Tate Modern.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Tate Modern

The permanent collection draws from the Tate’s collections of modern art (international works from 1900) and features heavy hitters such as Matisse, Rothko and Beuys – a genuinely world-class collection, expertly curated. There are vertiginous views down inside the building from outside the galleries, which group artworks according to movement (Surrealism, Minimalism, Post-war abstraction) rather than by theme.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Whitechapel Gallery

This East End stalwart reopened in 2009 following a major redesign and expansion that saw the Grade II listed building transformed into a vibrant, holistic centre of art complete with a research centre, archives room and café. Since 1901, Whitechapel Art Gallery has built on its reputation as a pioneering contemporary institution and is well remembered for premiering the talents of exhibitions by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo among others. Expect the rolling shows to be challenging and risqué.

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
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