Thursday, October 28

The best photography and architecture of 2020: high camp to Dungeness | Art and Design

Sean O’Hagan


Sunil Gupta: from here to eternity

The Photographers Gallery, London, until February 21

The first British retrospective of Sunil Gupta’s work brings together material from his long and varied career, from the scenes of everyday gay life in New York that he described for his groundbreaking series, Christopher Street., in 1976, to the elaborately constructed and highly symbolic vignettes of 2008, The New Pre-Raphaelites. “What does it mean to be a gay Indian?” said of his photograph. “This is the question that follows me everywhere.” Read more.


Various places, Brighton

In the most challenging moments, Photoworks managed to host various exhibitions, online events and, most imaginatively, a Festival in a box – a limited edition publication / artwork that can be installed on a wall “at home, in your office, in a gallery, in your classroom or with your community”. With the work of Pixy Liao, Alix Marie, Ronan Mckenzie, and a host of other artists, it was perhaps the most imaginative response to the constrictions of the pandemic.

Northumbrian miner at his dinner, 1937.
Skillfully curated … Northumbrian miner in His Evening Meal, 1937, part of an exhibition at Hepworth Wakefield. Photograph: © Bill Brandt / Bill Brandt Archive Ltd. Photo: Yale Center for British Art


Bill Brandt / Henry Moore

Hepworth Wakefield, now closed

A cleverly curated show that explored the overlapping creative journeys of a photographer and sculptor who first crossed paths when they were both commissioned to create images of civilians taking refuge in the London Underground during the bombing. Moore’s ingenious photographs of his sculptures came as a surprise, while his drawings of Stonehenge up close contrasted dramatically with Brandt’s more haunting images of the standing stones rising from snow-covered fields. Another England reflected through the eyes of two brilliantly perceptive postwar artists. Read the full review.


Masculinities: Liberation through photography

Barbican, London, now closed

A comprehensive, ambitious and timely group show that featured over 300 works by 50 artists, including Richard Avedon, Peter Hujar, Annette Messager, Catherine Opie and Karlheinz Weinberger, Masculinities explored the ways in which masculinity is represented, encoded and challenged. through the middle. of photography. Highlights included Karen Knorr’s keenly perceptive series Gentlemen, which explores male privilege and rights through the prism of private male clubs in Mayfair, and Jeremy Deller’s film about wrestler Adrian Street, a study of a peculiarly English form of the high theater field. Read the full review.


Zanele muholi

Tate Modern, London, until may 31

A victim of the second Covid lockdown in England, this important survey program has now spread. It examines the work of one of the most dynamic and politically engaged photographers and activists working today, through his extraordinary documentation of the lives of the black lesbian, gay, trans, queer and intersex communities of South Africa. At the center of the show is the epic series Faces and Phases, which fuses shocking portraits with poignant testimonies of people threatened daily by violence and discrimination. Read the full review.

Oliver Wainwright


Popular Space

Bringing a splash of color to what had otherwise been a dull and gray year, Space Popular’s Swedish-Spanish architectural duo injected a ray of supercharged visual joy in 2020. An exhibition at the RIBA on the history of style is it sadly interrupted, but then it was brilliantly reinvented as an immersive virtual environment, where you could navigate the show online like a computer game avatar. Meanwhile, the couple demonstrated their skills beyond the virtual with the completion of a stunning new home in Spain that saw wafer-thin terracotta tile vaults suspended within a bright green steel frame. A gift awaits us when they start to grow big. Read more.


Rob the Saracens by Diana Darke

There is a dark side to social media where right-wing nationalist groups use images of traditional Western architecture to reinforce their vision of a “pure” European cultural identity. This book carries an eloquent mallet to such dog-whistling propaganda, revealing that everything from Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Houses of Parliament has its roots in the Middle East. It is a fascinating story of cultural exchange, shedding light on centuries of architectural borrowing from east to west. The ferocity of its reception in certain places unfortunately revealed how much such a book is needed. Read more.

Yasmeen Lari outside the women's center on stilts she designed in Sindh province.
Yasmeen Lari outside a stilted women’s center she designed in Sindh province, Pakistan. Photograph: courtesy of Heritage Foundation of Pakistan


The pandemic has shown what small, energetic organizations are capable of with a little ingenuity, perhaps no more than in the form of the Foundation for Architecture. ambitious online events program. Over 100 days from April to August, the charity hosted a mind-blowing series of lectures, interviews, building tours and panel discussions, delivering the virtual stage to a diverse cast of professionals from around the world, from the barefoot architect of Pakistan ”Yasmeen Lari, from the Black Females in Architecture group. And everything is available for free on Youtube.


Derek Jarman exhibition at the Garden Museum, London

This beautiful little exhibit brought the otherworldly Dungeness coastline to town, pebble beach and all. Reconstructing a fragment of the late artist and filmmaker’s cottage and gravel garden, the show evoked the magical atmosphere of the place, showing his paintings and films along with his gardening tools and diaries. It was a fitting celebration of the news that the house would be saved for the nation, following a £ 3.5 million crowdfunding campaign. Read more.


Grafton Architects

An extraordinary year for Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, the Irish architects behind the coveted Dublin firm Grafton. Fresh from the curatorship of last year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, they won both the 2020 RIBA Gold Medal and the Pritzker Prize, the architectural equivalent of the Nobel Prize. On top of that they completed their first UK building, in the form of the stately £ 50 million Town House, a massive new student center for Kingston University in London.

Combining a library and a performance venue may not seem like an ideal match, but it is exactly this kind of “abrasion” that these inventive architects enjoy, creating novel solutions from unlikely combinations of use. From the desks in the quiet study areas in this open-plan learning cathedral, you can look down upon a spectacular triple-height performance space, and straight into the dance studios, where students flex their limbs in front of pharmacologists. deep into your textbooks.

The architects describe the building as “a great crossroads,” designed to stimulate the kinds of interactions people seek in college, and have been sorely lacking for much of this year. A wide winding staircase rises through the soaring entrance atrium and extends to a cascading series of generous balconies. “Why do you come to university, when you can study online?” Farrell said, on a tour of the building in January, before anyone could have guessed how largely virtual much of this year’s teaching would take. “It’s about meeting people and falling in love.”

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