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London 1938: Defending ‘Degenerate’ Art

In 1938, a year after the notorious Nazi exhibition of “degenerate art” in Munich, a counter exhibition in London showed works by 65 of the defamed artists. Eighty years on, this retrospective looks back at that exhibition, its organisers, the artworks and the artists themselves, and the stories of the lenders

Zoe Leonard. Untitled Aerial, 1988/2008. Gelatin silver print, 86.3 x 60.5 cm (34 x 23 7/8 in). © Zoe Leonard. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and Hauser & Wirth.
Leonard’s stripped-back black-and-white aerial photographs take us back to a simpler time.
Mariko Mori performing Oneness in the Moongate Garden of the Sackler Gallery, Washington DC, 16 November 2018.
The Moongate Garden at the Sackler Gallery provided a magical backdrop for Mariko Mori’s performance of Oneness for the gallery’s annual fundraiser.
Gordon Matta-Clark creating Garbage Wall under the Brooklyn Bridge in 1970. © The Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy The Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark and David Zwirner.
Using films, photo collages and reconstructions, this show brings back to life the pioneering work of the artist-architect who turned art into a social project in 1970s New York.
Christo in his studio with a preparatory drawing for The Mastaba, 2012. Photo: Wolfgang Volz. © 2012 Christo.
Famed for wrapping massive structures, great bodies of water and chunks of coastline as well as monumental  sculptures built from oil drums, Christo, who collaborated with his wife Jeanne-Claude until her death in 2009 – and still talks about her in the present tense – discusses his extraordinary career.
Thomas Gainsborough. Mary and Margaret Gainsborough, the Artist’s Daughters, c1760–61.
 Oil on canvas, 40.6 x 58.4 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
The National Portrait Gallery introduces us to Thomas Gainsborough’s colourful family in a beautifully realised exhibition.
Miguel Branco. Untitled (Unicorn). Polymer clay, wood and metal wires. Collection Victor Pinto da Fonseca. Courtesy Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Paris. © Miguel Branco, Fred NS.
Throughout history, unicorns have borne the power of intrigue and attraction, and this brief chronology, centring on the Musée de Cluny’s six medieval tapestries, The Lady and the Unicorn, showcases some of the highlights of artistic response.
Otto and Paula Modersohn sitting in the garden on the bench, c1904. Photo: © Paula Modersohn-Becker Foundation.
A tender testament to the relationship of two artists, whose lives and work are inextricably linked, bringing to life the moor landscapes of northern Germany.
JW Anderson Autumn Winter 2018 campaign. Photograph courtesy of Julie Greve.
The recent art-school graduate, who was selected to photograph this season's campaign for standout British fashion label JW Anderson, discusses her approach to commercial projects and the importance of forming a rapport with her subjects.
John Waters, Playdate, 2006 (foreground). Silicone sculpture of Michael Jackson and Charles Manson. Installation view, The Bunker Artspace, West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo: Jill Spalding.
Given a test run last autumn and reopening on 2 December, The Bunker, a private venue fronting the collection of curator-collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, is a trifecta of firsts; first to give Palm Beach a serious art scene; first to show art as an evolving aesthetic and first of what I anticipate will be the new trend – the show space as self-portrait.
Santiago Sierra. South Pole Documentation, 2015. Ditone archival print on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag. Courtesy of Santiago Sierra Studio & a/political.
This immersive installation documents Sierra’s provocative planting of black flags – symbol of the anarchist movement – at the north and south poles, opening the way for a timely discussion on borders and freedom of movement.
Martin Creed watching his video, Hauser & Wirth, London, 2018. Photo: Veronica Simpson.
Creed spoke to us at the opening of his new show, Toast, which includes a dancing sock, a painting that moves in and out of the room and a troupe of singers, along with new drawings, videos, paintings, textiles and a rotating piece of toast.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Pulse Room, 2006. Installation view, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Pulse at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, 2018. Photo: Cathy Carver.
In this fascinating show, large-scale immersive installations track visitors’ heartbeats and translate them into flashing lights, rippling waves and soundscapes.
Robyn Denny: Paintings from the 1960s, installation view. Copyright the artist, courtesy the New Art Centre, Roche Court Sculpture Park.
Roche Court’s presentation of Robyn Denny’s mysterious and enigmatic 60s abstract paintings runs alongside Neil Gall’s collages based on Studio magazine and his collage inspired cut-out paintings.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Jean Renoir. Photo taken by Pierre Bonnard, c1916. Proof on albumen paper from a gelatin silver bromide soft film negative, 40 x 34 cm. Paris, Musée d'Orsay. Photo © Musée d'Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt.
An exhibition exploring the shared motifs, subjects and settings of paintings and films by Pierre-August Renoir and his film director son Jean demonstrates how all too often, what in youth we think we want to escape, in adulthood we want to bring back close.
Bruce Nauman. All Thumbs, 1996. Plaster, component A: 10 × 5 1/2 × 4 in (25.4 × 14 × 10.2 cm); component B: 9 1/2 × 4 × 4 1/4 in (24.1 × 10.2 × 10.8 cm). Private collection, courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York. © 2018 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo courtesy the artist and Sperone Westwater, New York.
This retrospective helps us understand Nauman as an artist who turns attention to himself, his body and his image as an object of exploration in its relation to time, place and history.
Michelangelo Pistoletto. Donna con lampada, 1974. Silkscreen on polished stainless steel, 125 x 125 cm (49 1/4 x 49 1/4 in). Courtesy Mazzoleni.
A well-defined exhibition at Mazzoleni, London, trains its eye on Michelangelo Pistoletto’s incipient figurative experiments and their aftermaths.
Ivory plaque of a lioness mauling a man. Ivory, gold, cornelian, lapis lazuli, Nimrud, 900BC – 700BC. © The Trustees of the British Museum.
I am Ashurbanipal tells the story of an educated Assyrian king with a brutal streak.
Pepe López. Photo: Thierry Bal.
The Venezuelan artist recounts packing a life into a suitcase, the potency of objects in evoking the past, and the will to overcome loss through transformation.
Edward Burne-Jones. The Garden Court, 1874-84. Oil on canvas, 125 x 231 cm. The Faringdon Collection Trust.
Burne-Jones may not appeal to the contemporary art world, but Tate Britain’s survey proves there’s more to the pre-Raphaelite master than Arthurian escapism.
Anna Boghiguian talking to Studio International at the opening of Artes Mundi 8, National Museum Cardiff, 25 October 2018. Photo: Martin Kennedy.
Anna Boghiguian talks about her travels and research for A Meteor Fell from the Sky, the founding of India’s first steel business, Tata Steel, and how this material is currently being manipulated by assorted superpowers to influence global economies and politics.
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