Cosmic Stonehenge secrets, Ai Weiwei looks back, and gay sex 11,000 years ago – the week in art

The British Museum goes neolithic, the activist artist sits his work next to Chinese antiquities and LGBT+ history month begins with the deep human past – all in your weekly dispatch

Exhibition of the week

The World of Stonehenge
The secrets of Britain’s most renowned Neolithic monument should make for a fascinating show.
British Museum, London from 17 February to 17 July.

Also showing

Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child
The revered artist seen from a new perspective, stressing her use of textiles.
Hayward Gallery, London, until 15 May.

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature
Nature drawings that reveal the scientific side of Peter Rabbit’s creator, as well her original designs for picture books.
V&A, London, from 12 February to 25 September.

Ai Weiwei: The Liberty of Doubt
Fake and real antiquities alongside simulacra of everyday objects by the activist and dissident.
Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, from 12 February to 19 June.

Ida Applebroog: Right up to Now, 1969-2021
A mini-retrospective of this veteran New Yorker’s feminist paintings and cartoons.
Hauser and Wirth, Somerset, until 2 May.

Image of the week

Louise Bourgeois The Good Mother (detail), 2003. Fabric, thread, stainless steel, wood and glass. 109.2 x 45.7 x 38.1 cm.

Louise Bourgeois’s sewn-together body parts, such as The Good Mother, above, dangle from the ceiling, hang out on stands or have sex in vitrines at the Hayward Gallery in London. They were created in the final decades of the artist’s long career and are provocative, scary and marvellous. Read full review of Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child here.

What we learned

A 5,000-year-old chalk drum is the “most important prehistoric art find in Britain for a century”

A rotting London warehouse has been transformed into a cutting-edge “makerspace”

The statue of a 13th-century Jewish businesswoman was unveiled in Winchester

A South Korean academic is reading North Korean sweet wrappers for clues

Damien Hirst is facing plagiarism claim No 16

Female photographers are exploring nudity and the feminine gaze

Kurt Schwitters’ unknown portrait sitter was a German spy

Sad young women are the latest book cover trend

Glasgow’s Burrell Collection is reopening after a six-year refurbishment

Life is beautiful in infrared

Manchester’s new flue is a towering achievement, inspired by Tudor palaces

Masterpiece of the week

Ain Sakhri lovers, Natufian culture c. 9000 BC, Ain Sakhri, Jordan.

The Ain Sakhri Lovers, Natufian culture c 9000BC, Ain Sakhri, Jordan
This is one of the oldest sculptures of the human figure and may also be the earliest image of gay sex. The two lovers sensually embracing don’t have defined genders, but the fact they both resemble erect penises makes male on male passion a legitimate interpretation - especially in LGBT+ history month. At the very least we might say this ancient marvel of erotic art leaves identities open and possibilities unclosed. It may represent people exploring new ways of life as human society got more complex. Older images of the human form tend to be “Venus” figures that symbolise fertility. The Natufian period was when people were starting to experiment with agriculture and domesticity. In this liberating work of art, sex is depicted not just as a means to reproduce the species, but a form of play – with whomever you love.
British Museum, London

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