Review of 2012: Visual Arts
The Independent’s former comment editor, Adrian Hamilton writes a weekly column largely on international affairs with particular focus on the Middle East, Iran and foreign policy issues. Before joining the paper he was deputy editor of the Observer newspaper.
Saturday 22 December 2012
David Hockney: A Bigger Picture Royal Academy of Arts, London
Over the top in quantity, confidence and ambition, Hockney started the year with an exhibition of landscapes of his native Yorkshire that proved what a great graphic artist he is. A 75-year-old on top of his form and sadly, with the deaths of Lucian Freud and Richard Hamilton, one of the last of the post-war giants.
Turner, Monet and Twombly: Later Paintings Tate Liverpool
That artists in old age achieve a late burst of creativity has become something of a cliché. But if you doubted it, Liverpool's showing of these three titans gloriously illustrated the point. Twombly, who died last year, is now the artist for students to reference themselves by – and you can see why.
The Heart of the Great Alone, Queen's Gallery Buckingham Palace, London
This has proved the year of photography, and it started with some of the most majestic shots ever taken of Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton's expeditions into the Antarctic. Nature at its most sublime and unaccommodating. Who could forget Frank Hurley's pictures of the last days of Shackleton's ship, the Endurance, as it was imprisoned and crushed by the ice.
Jenny Saville, Modern Art Oxford
Raw, unremitting, and above all honest, Saville shows that painting can still be committed and humane in an age of the ironic. Examining herself and her gender, she has moved from unsparing nudes to touching maternity in her most recent pictures of mother and child.
Rothko/Sugimoto: Dark Paintings and Seascapes, Pace, London
Art as contemplation. The American master of cool abstraction and the contemporary Japanese photographer of light shared wall space in their reach for the infinite. Dark in colour but spiritual in feeling, you could stand for hours just gazing.
Turkey of the Year: Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claude, National Gallery, London
In the current gallery competition for a part of Britain's most influential artist, the NG made its claim with a show that took Turner's worship of the French landscape painter Claude and laboured it to death with a parallel showing that diminished them both.
Discovery of the Year: New Galleries in Mayfair
They were hardly a surprise, but it felt like one when they came. The explosion of new galleries in Mayfair in time for the Frieze Art Fair this autumn confirmed the West End as the centre of commercial art in Europe. They're not here for the English clientele, but the Russian and Chinese rich who are now making London the preferred place for a pad. Good for business, but depressing in its implications.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food