Exhibition of the week
The mythic power and moral insight of Blake will always make him one of Britain’s most urgent artists. A retrospective we need.
• Tate Britain, London, 11 September to 2 February.
The subversive installations of contemporary art’s great joker should play well against the grandiose backdrop of Blenheim.
• Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, 12 September to 27 October.
Hard-hitting art that visualises the violence of our time with rubble and human hair.
• White Cube Bermondsey, London, 12 September to 3 November.
A Rothschild Treasury
On display are curious and beautiful objects collected by the Rothschild family, including rare clocks, fine goblets and Roman art.
• Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, 7 September to 27 October.
Life Through Extraordinary Mirrors
This exhibition explores the agony and ecstasy of the globalised 21st century as seen by Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, Cyrus Kabiru, Romuald Hazoumè, Zak Ové, LR Vandy, Cosmo Whyte and Alexis Peskine.
• October Gallery, London, 12 September to 23 November.
Masterpiece of the week
Christ Blessing, 1465, by Antonella da Messina
It was said the southern Italian artist Antonello da Messina made what was then an epic journey to Bruges to learn how to paint in oils. This mystic masterpiece shows he studied northern painters carefully, for it is saturated in Flemish influences. The big full-on face of Christ resembles his depiction in the Van Eyck brothers’ Ghent Altarpiece, while the ledge and inscription in front of him echo portraits by Jan van Eyck. Wherever Da Messina saw such paintings, his assimilation of their methods – using oils on wood to create precise images of the real world – lets him create a truly mysterious experience in which Christ is made real, yet powerfully transcends reality as we know it. Paintings like this were popular in Venice and later inspired Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, but this is an exceptionally touching and sincere vision.
• National Gallery, London.
Image of the week
Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg relaxes on the front benches during the emergency debate on a no-deal Brexit on Tuesday this week. Read Hannah Jane Parkinson on how the pose compares to art’s great recliners.
What we learned
The Observer spotted some cultural highlights to look out for this autumn
Maurizio Cattelan revealed why he made a golden toilet
Greece wants to swap some sculptures for the Elgin marbles
The Royal Academy is reopening Marina Abramović’s naked doorway
David Smith was a self-made man of steel
Can design solve Britain’s prison crisis?
Can blind people make great architects?
A lost painting reveals one pre-Raphaelite’s darker side
Lucy McRae explored society’s changing attitudes to body image
Stuart Semple has a welcome retrospective
Architects were challenged to put the environment first?
Cuba’s revolutionary poster designs were liberating
Photographer Gregory Halpern found America’s heart in Omaha
The picturesque view of Bristol’s Clifton bridge is ‘under threat’
An Austrian football stadium sprouted a forest
The Duchess of Sussex paid tribute to fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh
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