Trump's threat to Iranian treasures and flashbacks to fascist Italy – the week in art

The president’s bomb targets, the future of speed and flight, the power of maternality, and the creations of a political refugee potter – all in your weekly dispatch

Exhibition of the week

The Four Ages of Woman
Madge Gill, Anna Kavan and political refugee potter Bibi Herrera are among the visionary artists in this exhibition about mind, creativity and gender.
Bethlem Museum of the Mind, London, until 25 April.

Also showing

Tullio Crali
This Futurist painter of speed and flight had his heyday in Mussolini’s Italy.
Estorick Collection, London, 15 January to 11 April.

Helen Chadwick, Jo Spence and Judy Chicago are among the artists exploring the corporeal experience of motherhood.
Richard Saltoun Gallery, London, until 15 February.

Ian Davenport
Powerfully coloured prints by this abstract painter translate his sublime rigour from canvas to paper.
Cristea Roberts Gallery, London, until 8 February.

Misbehaving Bodies
It’s well worth catching this exhibition, in its last weeks, for Jo Spence’s shocking and moving self-portraits of her own final illness.
Wellcome Collection, London, until 26 January.

Image of the week

the Imam Zadeh Helal Ali holy shrine in Aran

Imamzadeh Helal Ali holy shrine, Aran, Iran
In a grotesque echo of past desecrations by the Taliban and Isis, President Trump threatened to bomb 52 of Iran’s incomparable cultural and historical treasures if the country retaliated to America’s assassination of Revolutionary Guard general Qassem Suleimani last week. Iran’s position in one of the cradles of civilisation has left it with unprecedented riches: glittering mosques, holy shrines, capitals of past civilisations including Persepolis, wondrous bridges, a Christian cathedral and the tomb of Biblical hero Daniel. But other US leaders – including Trump’s secretary of state and defence secretary – sought quickly to defuse the president’s comments, while commentators denounced the threat as an overture to war crimes.

What we learned

Vivian Suter lets jungle animals finish her paintings for her

Pop art prankster John Baldessari has died

Historic British pools are making a splash

Arctic treasures exposed by melting ice to go on display

Games designers have put their stamp on British culture

One Dresden museum took on the far right by inviting them inside

… while Fiona Foley fights racism using the art of the uncomfortable

We looked ahead to likely US art trends in 2020

Antony Gormley is among those chosen to inaugurate Plymouth’s Box

… while Native American descendants hope the Mayflower 400 celebrations will unearth lost treasures

TV fans are using art to influence plot developments

New year in Romania means bear dancers and demons

Cartier-Bresson captured China’s tumultuous last days before communism

Designer George Him had a deep influence on British graphic design

Saad Qureshi is in search of paradise

To housework photographer Clare Gallagher, even dust can be interesting

The British Museum raised money to retain precious Indian watercolours

A former Nazi prisoner detailed his forced sterilisation in painstaking detail

Harry Benson peeked backstage at New York’s fashion shows

Women’s hats can be lethal

Outsider architect Bruce Goff is “the Michelangelo of kitsch”

The Musée d’Orsay has hired an Instagram artist-in-residence

Masterpiece of the week

A Knight with his Jousting Helmet by Giovanni Battista Moroni.

A Knight With His Jousting Helmet, c 1554-58, by Giovanni Battista Moroni
With a brace on his leg and his beautiful, shining armour scattered around him in disarray, this Renaissance man signals defeat and sweet despair. He is poised though broken, stylish despite his unconcealed weakness. Behind him is a classical building whose decay mirrors his own. The colours make this a painted answer to a Shakespeare sonnet, in their subtle, pensive feeling: black hose, a mustard jacket, silvery chain mail and stained grey marble weave a delicate atmosphere of muted regret. Yet he is proud. His ruddy face is disdainful, his sword long and phallically straight. Even with his armour off and his bad leg, this warrior is not finished yet. He has been identified as Conte Faustino Avogadro of Brescia, and that’s a maybe. Above all, he is one of the most enigmatic characters in the history of portraiture.
National Gallery, London.

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Jonathan Jones

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