Stuffed Tokyo super-rats and Isaac Julien’s abolition hero – the week in art

·3-min read

Exhibition of the week

Tokyo: Art and Photography
Exciting and eye-opening survey of one of the world’s great art cities, from 17th-century paintings of courtesans and samurai to a stuffed specimen of today’s urban super-rats.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 29 July to 3 January.

Also showing

Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour
A new 10-screen video portrait of the 19th-century justice campaigner and former slave Frederick Douglass.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 29 July to 10 October.

Hetain Patel: Trinity
A cinematic installation that strives for the spectacular, including its own gift shop merchandise.
John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, 3 August to 30 October.

Sean Lynch: Tak’ Tent O’ Time Ere Time Be Tint
Artwork that contributes to current debates around statues by excavating monumental stories.
Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, 29 July to 29 August

Haegue Yang: Strange Attractors
Surreal fluffy objects that bring an uncanny mood to this seaside museum.
Tate St Ives, until 26 September

Image of the week

Sydney photographer Joel Brian Pratley’s image of a lone farmer immersed in a dust storm in drought-stricken Australia has won the 2021 National Photographic Portrait prize. Titled Drought Story, the image shows David Kalisch captured amid a sudden dust storm on his 1,000-acre farm in Forbes, New South Wales. Pratley said his subject’s stance reflected the resilience of a man pushed to the limits by an unforgiving climate: “David’s composure during the storm was surreal, because he is just so used to it. For me, it was like being on Mars.”
See all the finalists’ work here.

What we learned

Britons still on furlough are most likely to be arts and creative workers

Surrealism, Cornelia Parker and Cézanne are highlights in 2022’s Tate season

Homeless artist Richard Hutchins became an Oprah-endorsed sensation

Oscar Murillo’s bad-boy fantasies have been undone by sensible teens

The National Gallery of Australia will return artworks worth a combined £1.5m to India

while it’s warned the country’s Covid-hit arts sector won’t survive without government help

UK cuts to university arts funding are to gag criticism, says Turner prize winner Helen Cammock

Tony McGrath was an outstanding photographer and the Observer’s picture editor

whose reportage covered wars, famine and the icons of his age

Artist Colin Painter dedicated his career to encouraging participation in the visual arts

Found cassette tapes tapes shone fresh light on Dennis Severs and his unusual London museum

The secrets of Seville cathedral’s doors reveal a wealth of historic detail

The defaced George Floyd statue moved to Manhattan

Liverpool’s Three Graces must be blushing with shame, said the Observer’s architecture critic

Retro Africa: Do This in Memory of Us celebrates contemporary African art in New York

Oxford’s Ashmolean showed that Tokyo ‘invented modern art’

The creators of adult comic Viz revealed how they trumped the zeitgeist

A new exhibition showcased three Cameroonian photographers from the ‘golden age’ of studio portraiture in west Africa

Asher Milgate explored Indigenous Australian identity in his vivid landscape photography

Previously unseen shots of Amy Winehouse went on show in London

Departures at a Barcelona museum provoked anger in the art world

Osman Yousefzada dressed Birmingham with an ‘infinity pattern’ …

while other artists had the cheek to celebrate the human bottom

Henry the vacuum cleaner became an accidental design icon

The World Architecture festival award announced its 2021 shortlist

The Wellcome photography prize focused on mental health, infectious diseases and global heating …

while the annual iPhone photography awards offered glimpses of beauty and hope

A controversial £100m Holocaust memorial has been greenlit in Westminster

but visitors to the ‘Marble Arch mound’ in London have been offered refunds

because it is underwhelming in person

and was arguably a bad idea from the start

The photographic selfie dates back to the 1830s

Terry Aston described becoming a life model

Renee Osubu produced a photo essay on black fatherhood

photographer Charlie Phillips documented black lives in London in the 1960s and 70s

and John Ferguson has documented people from Suffolk’s African-Caribbean community

Magnum’s Chris Steele-Perkins trained his lens on Northern Ireland during the Troubles

Luis Antonio Rojas’s best shot captured the tragedy of the Mexican drug trade

Masterpiece of the week

Homage to a Poet.
Homage to a Poet.

Homage to a Poet by follower of Giorgione (early 1500s)
The Renaissance artist Giorgione was good-looking, seductive and not only a brilliant painter but a talented lutenist and ardent lover – so the story goes. But he died young from plague and since the heyday of his fame, one after another of his masterpieces have been reattributed. Could this be a real Giorgione? It has his interest in poetry, which is also to be seen in his famous, unquestioned work Laura, in which a woman poses bare-breasted among laurel leaves, the symbol of poetry. It also has the mystery of his painting The Tempest, which is just as hard to decode. But the style is a bit hard and dry for him. So maybe it was a friend, pupil or imitator who put together this strange group of characters in a meadow, surrounded by animals. The lute player could even be the doomed Giorgione himself. This may be an allegory of his genius by someone who hero-worshipped him.
• National Gallery, London

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