Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Pick of 2005: Art

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Pick of 2005: Art

Article excerpt


Painting from the past turned out to have extraordinary eloquence in 2005. The National Gallery staged the Old Master show of the year: Caravaggio's final years, when he was on the run after killing an opponent in a duel. Before his death aged only 38, this restless revolutionary gave western art a mesmerising new vision. Displaying a tragic awareness of mortality, he pioneered an extreme language of intense light and blackness which now looks uncannily cinematic.


The memorable events of 2005 didn't only take place in galleries. The ever-enterprising Artangel enabled Kutlug Ataman to take over a derelict postal sorting office in New Oxford Street, London. Here, in a vast open space, he installed 40 television screens, all transmitting interviews with inhabitants of Kuba, a ghetto area of Istanbul where life can be desolate and gruelling. But the people were bent on surviving, and their will to overcome privation gave the whole installation a stubborn defiance.

The Writer

Other artists managed to ambush us with spectacular surprises in the open air--nowhere more arrestingly than on Hampstead Heath, where Giancarlo Neri erected a colossal sculpture called The Writer. Consisting of an outsize table and chair, it celebrated writing's limitless ability to gain inspiration from the entire world. And everyone walking across the heath seemed to become involved with this monumental presence. Crowds gathered round it, and plenty of ambitious young mountaineers managed to climb right up to the top. …

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