Crumpled trumpets and state-sponsored psychedelia – the week in art
Exhibition of the week
Tutankhamun: Excavating the Archive
Arresting photographs and other documents reveal the true story of the most famous archaeological exploit of all time.
• Bodleian Library, Oxford, until 5 February 2023
Moving bird portraits by the artist and nature lover better known as Vic Reeves.
• Grosvenor Gallery, London, until 28 May
More birds, this time by an enduring giant of American art.
• Timothy Taylor, London, until 25 June
In the Air
Tacita Dean and Forensic Architecture are among the artists exploring our atmosphere.
• Wellcome Collection, London from 19 May to 16 October
Image of the week
Dreamachine, one of 10 national projects in Unboxed UK (formerly known as the Festival of Brexit) offers a free trip inside your own head courtesy of a flashing light technique pioneered in the 1960s, and it is as close to state-funded hallucinogens as you can get. Read our full review here.
What we learned
Masterpiece of the week
A Shepherd with his Flock in a Woody Landscape by Peter Paul Rubens (1615-22)
This knotty, tangled landscape of blues and greens lit by a blazing low sun takes you into a luxuriant, oily recreation of nature. It is a recognisably northern European scene, wet, woody and clouded. Rubens relishes its leafy, shady subtleties. Landscape art was still new when he painted this pastoral moment. The first pure landscape in European art is a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, but it was northern artists such as Albrecht Altdorfer and Pieter Bruegel the Elder who made it a genre in its own right. Rubens is recognisably indebted here to his Flemish predecessor: the birds in the trees and the figure of the shepherd are very Bruegelian. Rubens was friends with Pieter Bruegel’s son Jan: perhaps he knew the father’s great landscape drawings whose rich dense thickets this painting echoes. It’s a painting to enjoy on a rainy day, when its dreamy depths at once warm and refresh.
• National Gallery, London
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