Walk into a human body, book dealers’ vandalised treasures and a 2D world – the week in art

Exhibition of the week

Wang Gongxin: In-Between
Multimedia installations that explore by modern means the ancient painterly problems of light and shadow.
White Cube Mason’s Yard, London, from 19 January to 26 February.

Also showing

Alison Katz: Artery
Autobiographical art in an installation that suggests the insides of the human body.
Camden Art Centre, London, until 13 March.

Betsy Bradley: Chasing Rainbows
Subtle and contemplative abstract paintings and sculptures including a swing to imaginatively escape on.
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, until 13 February

Emily Speed: Flatland
Video inspired by the Victorian fantasy novel Flatland and its vision of a two-dimensional world.
Tate Liverpool until 5 June

Fragmented Illuminations: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript Cuttings
Beautiful images cut by brutal 19th-century book dealers from some of the greatest medieval manuscripts.
V&A, London, until 8 May

Image of the week

A staff member on a garden bridge at the opening day of the Monet’s Garden exhibition at the Alte Muenze, Berlin. The exhibition, which will run in Berlin until March, offers an immersive experience into the works of the French 19th century painter.

A staff member at the newly opened Monet’s Garden immersive multimedia exhibition, dedicated to the work of the painter Claude Monet, at Alte Muenze, Berlin. The show runs until mid-March.

What we learned

A bitter inheritance feud is raging over a Roman villa

An Eric Gill sculpture on BBC Broadcasting House in London was allegedly damaged during a protest over the artist’s paedophilia

A masterpiece by René Magritte is expected to fetch £45m at auction

Art historian Christopher Wright discovered his £65 painting may be a Van Dyck

Cotswolds residents want Damien Hirst to fix up his crumbling country pile

Photographer Masterji’s portraits of immigrant life in Coventry will go on display

while West Midlands police artist in residence Kay Rufai hopes to reduce youth violence and racial stereotyping

A show of work by US landscape painter Winslow Homer opens in London in September

Senegal has some of the most arresting architecture in Africa

and artist, poet and singer, Dieynaba Sidibé, AKA Zeinixx, is the country’s ‘first lady’ of graffiti

Soviet avant-garde film posters were as bold and innovative as the movies they advertised

Photographer Alec Soth is one of the most compelling chroniclers of American life

Foster + Partners’ architecture firm almost doubled its profits in 2020, thanks to Middle East expansion

Masterpiece of the week

A Sparrowhawk Jacopo de’ Barbari 1510s
Photograph: © The National Gallery, London

Jacopo de’ Barbari: A Sparrowhawk, 1510s
Nothing could be simpler or more directly observed than this Venetian Renaissance slice of life. It is not an allegory, a reference to myth or any other kind of symbol – as Renaissance art is so often assumed to contain – but just an act of observation. The artist looks clearly and carefully at a hunting bird on its perch. He captures its bright, fierce eye and tiger-striped breast feathers, the leather bracelets on its feet and bell to sound the alert if it takes flight. It waits alertly against an undecorated, meaning-free wall. This is an art of describing of the sort we associate with northern European rather than Italian painters. In fact, Jacopo de’ Barbari moved between north and south, working in Nuremberg as well as Venice. His sparrowhawk anticipates by about 150 years The Goldfinch, the painting by Carel Fabritius made famous by Donna Tartt’s novel. It’s a memorial to a nameless bird of prey that lived half a millennium ago.
National Gallery, London

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