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.
Arts & Ents blogs
Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch 'first sexy Holmes', says Mark Gatiss
Too upsetting? Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
Jared Leto: Best Supporting Actor Oscar sparks backlash from transgender community
Captain Phillips actor Barkhad Abdi struggles financially despite Oscar nomination
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Too upsetting? Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
- 3 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 4 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
- 5 Livr: A social network only for drunk people