Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends - art review

John Singer Sargent's paintings are anything but conservative

National Portrait Gallery: ★★★★★

Despite enjoying a successful career as a portraitist in the late 1800s, John Singer Sargent was overtaken by the lurch toward abstraction that took place in the subsequent century. His luscious, august paintings of society figures seemed to pull in the opposite direction to those throwing off the figurative constraints of traditional painting. The National Portrait Gallery’s new Sargent exhibition makes a mockery of this view. Portraits in the traditional sense they may be, but the compositional inventiveness and psychological intensity mark him out as anything but conservative.

CRITICS CHOICE: ART

Marlene Dumas, Tate Modern: ★★★★★
The South African painter’s first major UK retrospective cements her reputation as a modern master
Christian Marclay, White Cube: ★★★★☆
A worthy follow-up to 2010’s The Clock, Marclay’s latest exhibition is an exhilarating audio-visual voyage
Reiner Ruthenbeck, Serpentine: ★★★★☆
Ruthenbeck’s conceptually rigorous, elegantly executed installations are on display at the Hyde Park gallery

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