Wild animals, YBAs and Aussie impressionism – the week in art

Australian and Mancunian varieties of impressionism are unveiled this week, along with the beautiful scientific art of Franz and Ferdinand Bauer – plus the rest of the week’s art happenings

Exhibition of the week

Australia’s Impressionists
This is, if nothing else, an unexpected angle on the birth of modern art, following such painters as Tom Roberts and John Russell in their quest to emulate Monet and bring the light of impressionism to Australia. Hey, it worked with French wine – why not French art?
National Gallery, London, 7 December-26 March.

Also showing

Making Nature
This survey, of how human beings look at animals, explores what it says about us and them and the future of the natural world.
Wellcome Collection, London, until 21 May.

Gavin Turk
Ego and wit in spades at this welcome retrospective for one of the best of the Young British Artist generation.
Newport Street Gallery, London, until 19 March.

Franz and Ferdinand Bauer
Beautiful scientific art from the Romantic age by two Austrian brothers who worked in Georgian Britain.
Natural History Museum, London, until 26 February.

Wynford Dewhurst
As if Australian impressionists were not enough, here is Manchester’s very own impressionist painter, who helped make the movement better known in Britain, at about the time French art was moving on to fauvism.
Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, 9 December-23 April.

Masterpiece of the week

Vincent van Gogh – Sunflowers (1888)

Soul medicine ... Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh.
Soul medicine ... Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh. Photograph: courtesy of the National Gallery, London

When the Dutch-born Van Gogh made his move from impressionist Paris to the Provençal town of Arles, he was transfixed and besotted by the intense colours of the south. His sunflowers are his ecstatic response to a yellow so strong you can practically taste it. Van Gogh painted this in a rapture of sun worship. He hung it in the home he created, the Yellow House, to infuse it with redemptive light. This is art as soul medicine.

National Gallery, London.

Image of the week

Heather Phillipson, 100% Other Fibres, 2016.
Heather Phillipson’s 100% Other Fibres (2016). Photograph: courtesy of the artist

A still from 100% Other Fibres by Heather Phillipson, who won the Jarman prize for video art this week. Her work features installations and films, often with her own poetry laid over them, and is, she told Adrian Searle, about “anxieties of the present moment ... I think my work has got more and more angry and overtly political. Looking back at my old work, there was a lovely innocent time when I could make a video about french kissing. Not that it was really that, but I didn’t have to think about fascism, that it was on my doorstep.”

What we learned this week

We heard the story behind the most talked-about artwork of the year – the ‘bum door’ at the Turner prize – from the man who inspired it

Julia Gunther told us about her best shot – of the church brigade leader giving Cape Town kids hope

Art world figures such as Grayson Perry and Hans Ulrich Obrist are protesting against the potential closure of New Art Gallery Walsall

Oliver Wainwright looks at what we can expect from Donald Trump, architecturally speaking

John Singer Sargent’s watercolours are going on show at Dulwich Picture Gallery next year

An Eduardo Paolozzi sculpture outside Euston station in London is deteriorating because no one wants to claim it

Madonna is flogging a few of her artworks for her own charity – including pieces by Ai Weiwei, Tracey Emin and Cindy Sherman

Painting is the art comeback of the century – not that you’d know from the Turner prize

Stuart Jeffries visited the White House, the project turning Dagenham into an art destination

The Cy Twombly retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris opened – and it’s predictably astounding ...

... as is Tate Modern’s epic Robert Rauschenberg retrospective

Olivia Laing, meanwhile, unpacks Rauschenberg’s life, work, and mastery of the “language of junk”

Guardian readers weren’t massive fans of the new Design Museum

A resurrected public art project from the 1970s reminds us of how triumphal – and Brexit-flavoured – our public art is today

Photographer Danny Lyon discusses his images of ecological devastation

The second-tallest building in western Europe is to be built in the City of London

Rowan Moore looks at the blinging design projects cropping up along the banks of the Thames

A magnificent gold torc from the bronze age has been found in a Cambridgeshire field

Get involved

Book now for two Guardian members’ events: Rodin and Dance: The Essence of Movement, at London’s Courtauld Gallery on 18 January; and Insider’s View of Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans, at London’s Royal Academy on 20 January.

Our A-Z of readers’ art series continues – share your art with the theme N for North Sea

And check out the entries we selected for the theme M for majesty

Don’t forget

To follow us on Twitter: @GdnArtandDesign


Jonathan Jones

The GuardianTramp

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