Posh frocks, space oddities and Lucian Freud – the week in art

Pit yourself against Freud’s pitiless gaze, step into the 1920s wardrobe of a well-to-do woman or shoot into space, via Edinburgh – all in your weekly dispatch

Exhibition of the week

Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits
This harsh observer of reality takes a long look at himself in the mirror to paint some of the most unforgiving self-portraits of modern times.
Royal Academy, London, 27 October to 26 January.

Also showing

The 2,600-year history of Buddhism explored through art and artefacts including precious scrolls and manuscripts from the British Library collection.
British Library, London, until 23 February.

Katie Paterson
Space travel obsesses conceptual artist Paterson, who stars in a sample of art now that also includes Darren Almond, Shona MacNaughton and Lucy Raven.
Modern One, Edinburgh, 26 October to 31 May.

An English Lady’s Wardrobe
Fashion and middle-class life in 1920s and 30s Liverpool are recreated through the sartorial possessions of Mrs Emily Margaret Tinne.
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 25 October to 1 March.

Käthe Kollwitz
The fiercely honest self-portraiture of this radical early 20th-century German expressionist.
British Museum, London, until 12 January.

Image of the week

Two Plants, 1977-80, byLucian Freud.
Two Plants, 1977-80, by Lucian Freud. Photograph: © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images

Two Plants, an “enormous symphony” of “lots of little portraits of leaves” took Lucian Freud three years to complete and drove him “around the bend”. With meticulous realism, Freud captured the elusive essence of plants like no other. So why are these paintings rarely exhibited and discussed? Read Giovanni Aloi’s appraisal of the painter’s overlooked work.

What we learned

Joni Mitchell’s watercolours are glorious

The Louvre’s Leonard show is a blockbuster with brains …

… while Bridget Riley’s Hayward exhibition is a shimmering five-star triumph

Lucian Freud’s self-portraits are menacing, elusive and … orgasmic?

The Soviet Union took on religion with posters

Manc-hattan, ahem Manchester, has sold its soul for luxury skyscrapers

REM’s Michael Stipe talked us through his collection of photos …

… while Gavin Turk shared his thoughts on sock darning and homemade baked beans

An artist has created deepfake birdsong to highlight threat to dawn chorus

A newly discovered Rembrandt is to be shown in UK for first time

Rare pictures surfaced of Taliban fighters in makeup

One of the Renaissance’s 16th century masters was a nun

A Kehinde Wiley sculpture is heading for the Confederacy

… while Bisa Butler tells African American history with textiles

Is Apsley House’s Titian a dud, as one expert claims?

Paul Graham made a moving last study of his elderly mother

… while Polixeni Papapetrou’s muse is her daughter

The Future Library announced its next contributor

Reich/Richter married the work of two contemporary explorers

Protests against BP’s arts sponsorship continue

Dennis Hopper was pretty good behind a camera too

We remembered newspaper photographer Sally Soames

Masterpiece of the Week

The Death of Actaeon, c.1559-75, oil on canvas, Titian.
The Death of Actaeon, c.1559-75, oil on canvas, Titian. Photograph: The National Gallery, London.

The Death of Actaeon, c.1559-75, by Titian
Actaeon accidentally saw the goddess Diana naked when he was out hunting, in a classical myth that Titan took from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. She punished him by turning him into a stag and he was torn to pieces by his own hounds. Titian paints this moment of transformation and horror as a sensual melancholy feast of autumnal colour. Actaeon is still part-human as the dogs take him. The landscape is equally ambiguous – a dappled yellow and brown woodland given a texture like matted leaves by rich, freely expressive brushwork. Diana is much more clearly formed as if only she was entirely real. The world of mortals is ever-shifting, our knowledge of ourselves and nature unreliable, says Titian in this late, evocatively unfinished masterpiece.
National Gallery, London.

Don’t forget

To follow us on Twitter: @GdnArtandDesign.

Sign up to the Art Weekly newsletter

If you’d like to receive our regular roundup of art and design news via email, please sign up here.


Jonathan Jones

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Painters’ Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck review – an electric conversation
From the sensous Cézanne owned by Degas to van Dyck’s horde of Titians, this sparky show reveals the chains of inspiration linking painters through the ages

Jonathan Jones

21, Jun, 2016 @5:00 AM

Article image
Art books to self-isolate with, from Patti Smith to Lucian Freud – the week in art
The beast that was Picasso, a sleazy masterpiece about Francis Bacon and Buñuel’s memoirs – here are a few biographies to curl up with

Jonathan Jones

20, Mar, 2020 @4:00 PM

Article image
Why Lucian Freud deserves his own gallery
Jonathan Jones: The popularity of the Freud exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery confirms just how important it is to permanently preserve the work of this truly great artist for future generations

Jonathan Jones

23, Apr, 2012 @12:42 PM

Article image
Frieze, phones and avant garde fashion – the week in art
The Frieze art fair is in full swing in Regent’s Park, Martin Boyce is on the blower in Glasgow and Lucy McKenzie is playing tricks on the eye in Liverpool – all in your weekly dispatch

Jonathan Jones

15, Oct, 2021 @3:42 PM

Article image
Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits review – menacing, elusive ... orgasmic?
Royal Academy, London
Whether he’s just a shadow or staring at us, open-mouthed and wide-eyed, the great self-dramatist remains curiously unknowable

Adrian Searle

22, Oct, 2019 @5:30 PM

Article image
Turner, dwarves and dogs in space – the week in art

Jonathan Jones: Tate Britain delves into the great painter's late abstract phase, as we take a tour a bizarre amusement park in China and revel in the Soviet pooches that became design heroes

Jonathan Jones

05, Sep, 2014 @12:07 PM

Article image
‘Sigmund would have loved this’ – Lucian Freud: The Painter and his Family review
The painter’s sex life drove his art. Does this show think that’s too vulgar to go into? The result is richly ironic: a case of repression in the building that houses Sigmund’s consulting couch

Jonathan Jones

06, Jul, 2022 @10:05 AM

Article image
Lucian Freud storms the Pompidou Centre

Celebrated in London, New York and now in a major show in Paris, Lucian Freud is one of our greatest living painters. But will his work stand the test of time, asks Jonathan Jones

Jonathan Jones

17, Mar, 2010 @1:07 AM

Article image
Lucian Freud review – the Queen, Leigh Bowery and the artist’s ex-wives stand brutally revealed
From the monarch to the naked performance artist who was living with Aids, Freud paints life lived in the face of death, with an unsentimental eye for human tendernesss

Jonathan Jones

27, Sep, 2022 @11:01 PM

Article image
Tanks for everything, Tate Modern – the week in art

Jonathan Jones: Tate Modern's new venue for live art, the Tanks, is certain to be spectacular – and there's also Shakespeare, Sarah Lucas, Olivia Plender and more, all in your weekly art dispatch

Jonathan Jones

13, Jul, 2012 @11:48 AM