Feature: ArtScene

ArtScene: German Expressionism, McQueen, Bacon, Horses

New York, London, Geneva

By , Columnist

New York. It's all about imagery isn't it?  There's something extra special at the moment. Something you're not likely to see again at MoMA. It's German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse.

Wonderful drawings and prints of this large and uncompromising collection of expressionist artists whose strong imagery reflected the turmoil of the war years in Europe. Kokoshka, Kandinsky, Klee, Franz Marc, Schiele Emil Nolde and more and more and more.

Emil Nolde, turned to watercolours when the Nazis threatened to kill him if he continued painting. (Makes softies of us all.). He carried on secretly producing the most wonderful collection of vibrant -- not wishy washy at all -- watercolours throughout the remainder of the war, before returning to oil painting.

There is a strong sense of the human condition. Uninhibited sexuality. Suffering with all the anxieties of a society on the brink. A tough underlying style, which can be uneasy on the modern eye. This is a show that maps a raw and disturbing time. I can't help but draw parallels to what's happening in parts of the world right now. Brilliant but chilling. But only until 11 July.

Alexander-McQueen-Savage-Beauty-Exhibit.jpgThen to Fifth Avenue and a brilliant combination. The Met has Andrew Bolton's Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. Title of the year for this retrospective collection of nearly 200 pieces from McQueen's 19-year career sadly cut short by his suicide in February 2010.  Here's fashion as a form of installation art. When does a hoof become a shoe? Sacking turned to gold. McQueen the alchemist. It's another success for Bolton who at the end of the 1990s was one of the stars at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. Until 31 July.

London. Beautiful sunshine in the park and the shadow of Mr President's armoured limo, The Beast, went by Tuesday. Seems a heavy way of going to play table tennis - that's what he was doing. Talking of big, the word in this nation's capital is that Donald Hess, the yodelling rich Swiss wine producer, is sending Francis Bacon's Study for Portrait to Christie's next month. Bacon and Hess had at least one thing in common - good wine. Bacon was no slurper. He knew what he was drinking especially the finest Chateau Petrus. The portrait, a dark, disturbing image will probably get an £11million estimate. I'd bet a bottle of the '47 it'll reach nearly double that.

Le cheval.jpgGeneva. Clutching a must-read-again Hotel du Lac I am totally absorbed in the impressive exhibition of horse painting Le cheval dans la peinture at the Galerie Charly Bailly, 10 Rue de l'Hotel de Ville. Horses have always been popular with the British but here we can see the French, Italians and Swiss affection for the subject also. Featuring such painters as Alfred de Dreux (1810-1860), Jacques-Laurent Agasse (1767-1849) and the French abstract painter Aime Felix Del Marle. You don't have to love horses to enjoy this exhibition. Tally ho!! 

Ai Weiwei is still in prison. Tell someone.

ArtScene quote of the week: "If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if  he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties"  (Francis Bacon).

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Fiona Graham-Mackay, is London's newest royal portrait painter. She is also recently back from painting in the Pakistan-Afghan border. She studied at London's Royal College of Art, had a studio in Paris before returning to the UK to paint and teach in London, Spain and Italy. Her next assignments are…

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