Close
Close

Anne Wagner

Anne Wagner is working on a book about sculpture.

At the British Museum: Käthe Kollwitz

Anne Wagner, 2 January 2020

The exhibition​ of etchings, lithographs and woodcuts by Käthe Kollwitz at the British Museum (until 12 January) confronts us with her characteristic, and still discomfiting, lack of decorum. Her subjects are almost unfailingly depressing – peasant rebellion and defeat, world war, poverty, hunger, the death of children and the despair of mothers – and her way with gouge and...

In Cardiff: David Nash

Anne Wagner, 15 August 2019

The sculptor​ David Nash has lived and worked in Snowdonia for half a century, and the exhibition of his work currently on view at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff (until 1 September) is a tribute to his time in the region. Born in Surrey in 1945, he moved to the once flourishing slate-mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1967, the year he left Kingston School of Art. By then, work...

At the Sainsbury Centre: Elisabeth Frink

Anne Wagner, 21 February 2019

The​ sculptor Elisabeth Frink had her first London show in 1955. She was 24 and already teaching at St Martin’s College and the Chelsea School of Art. She dated her formation, however, not to these precocious achievements but to her earlier discovery of Rodin: it was on encountering his work in Paris in 1951, she insisted, that her life as an artist began. Rodin made it possible for...

Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Anne Wagner, 6 December 2018

The Swiss artist​ Sophie Taeuber grew up without a father. Carl Emil Taeuber, a pharmacist, succumbed to tuberculosis in 1891, two years after her birth. Her mother, another Sophie, never remarried. Instead she moved back to Trogen, her birthplace, and designed a new house for her young family; supervising its construction, planting and tending its garden, and looking after a series of...

Over the last​ twenty years the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square has played host to 12 commissions, each a reminder that there’s no easy path to relevance, let alone aesthetic success. More than one work has breached the fine line separating populist eloquence from authorial laziness. In Antony Gormley’s One & Other (2009), 2400 volunteers (one an hour) took turns standing...

Currently​ on view at the Nasher Sculpture Centre in Dallas is a show whose high ambitions gradually unfold from its title. First Sculpture: Handaxe to Figure Stone (until 28 April) has in its sights the deepest origins of art. The usual art historical strategy has been to tiptoe around the problem of where and how art, as we think of it, began, building the origin story on a few...

The Women of ‘Guernica’

Anne Wagner, 16 August 2017

Picasso​ was a painter of themes. Themes, not subjects or ‘subject matter’: he pointed out the difference to André Malraux in 1937, just before Guernica left his studio for the Paris World’s Fair. Malraux had remarked that though neither of them put much stock in ‘subject matter’, on this occasion, in painting the great mural, his subject had served...

There was once​ a time when, in the eyes of advanced American taste-makers, Grant Wood led the list of home-grown artists who ought to be dismissed. Clement Greenberg, for example, used his column in the Nation to make it clear that nothing by Wood and his fellow figurative painters, not even their most successful compositions, was anything like as interesting as an unsuccessful picture by...

At the Courtauld: Rodin and Dance

Anne Wagner, 17 November 2016

A century ago​ Roger Fry tried to sum up Rodin’s approach to the human figure. What mattered most to Rodin, Fry decided, was the ‘unit’, not unity: ‘His conception of a figure is always so exceptional, so extreme, that every part of the figure is instinct with the central idea, every detail of hand or foot is an epitome of the whole, and the final composition of...

The exhibition​ Conceptual Art in Britain, 1964-79 (until 29 August), concise, intelligently installed, with something of the clarity and balance of a well-designed book, is an important occasion. And its readerly qualities are all to the good, given that the conceptualist generation (the majority were born in the 1930s and 1940s) shared a preference for working with words, if in an...

At Tate Britain: Hepworth

Anne Wagner, 26 August 2015

To see the Tate’s Hepworth retrospective is to realise that nothing in it rides on the idea of modern art’s ‘true home’. On the contrary, the show argues that where modern sculpture is concerned there was, and could be, no such place. Hepworth’s work, it aims to demonstrate, was both a proposal and an investigation which went on imagining a new kind of existence in public: not in the world the artist knew, but in one she hoped for, ‘a modern world’ in which sculptural form might come alive through the relationships it established, the spaces it created, the sensations it explored, the depths it plumbed.

How early​ was early photography? And how long did its earliness endure? The customary answer is just short of three decades, from about 1839 to 1865. The first date marks not the beginning of photographic experiments, but the year Louis Daguerre announced his ability to ‘seize the light’, a claim soon rephrased by William Henry Fox Talbot as the art of ‘fixing a...

At Tate Modern: Richard Tuttle

Anne Wagner, 6 November 2014

It’s easy​ to see why Richard Tuttle’s work has a tendency to rile people – in particular people who insist on believing that sculpture, even if it no longer needs to be solid and substantial, should at least cling to material existence. From early on Tuttle seemed set on refusing such notions; his work came across as impromptu and elusive, a mirage of fragments, shadows...

At the Whitechapel: Hannah Höch

Anne Wagner, 20 February 2014

‘What does a woman want?’ I still remember my first encounter with the question Freud put to Marie Bonaparte in 1925, just as I recall my inability to stomach its aggressive and mystifying tone. Years have passed since then, and with them many Hannah Höch exhibitions, yet it has taken the riveting new retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery – her first ever exhibition...

At Tate Modern: Mira Schendel

Anne Wagner, 23 October 2013

Tate Modern’s retrospective of the Brazilian artist Mira Schendel – born Myrrha Dagmar Dub in 1919 in Zurich, brought up in Italy, uprooted by war to Yugoslavia, and from there to Brazil in 1949 – is moving, difficult, full of strange writing and immediate visual pleasure.* Schendel was an intellectual, feeding on Wittgenstein and Cardinal Newman (her two incompatible...

The First Pop Age

Anne Wagner, 11 October 2012

When Hal Foster uses the word ‘first’ in the title of his confidently focused study, he means to start us thinking about Pop now and then. It is a reference to Reyner Banham’s Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1960), which argued that modernism’s prewar optimism was over and done. ‘We have already entered the Second Machine Age,’ Banham declared,...

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences