Ian Hislop at the British Museum

Ian Hislop objects and the art of Spanish violence—the best exhibitions in September 2018

Plus pondering the Universe in York
August 21, 2018
I object: Ian Hislop’s search for dissent

British Museum, 6th September to 20th January 2019

History is written by the victors, but objects can tell another story. Private Eye’s Ian Hislop (above) has picked around 100 objects from the museum’s stores to highlight an alternative legacy of subversion. A cuneiform tablet from 539BC gleefully details the failures of Nabonidus, last king of the neo-Babylonian empire. A terracotta oil lamp shows Cleopatra riding a phallus. An Edward VIII penny from 1913 is defaced with the message, “Votes For Women.” And Banksy’s prank fragment of wall art smuggled into the museum in 2005, taunts the institution itself.

Ribera: Art of Violence

Dulwich Picture Gallery, 26th September to 27th January 2019

Xavier Bray, the curator of the revelatory 2009 National Gallery exhibition The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600–1700, here introduces that supreme exponent of sensual, violent Counter Reformation Spanish painting, Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652). Eight large canvases, together with drawings and prints, show how Ribera’s shocking images of bodies in pain reflect an extended artistic, religious and cultural engagement with the depiction of bodily suffering.

Strata, Rock, Dust, Stars

York Art Gallery, 28th September to 25th November

In 1815 William Smith published the first geological map of Britain, transforming our picture of Earth. With its identification of the different strata that underlie the landscape, it inspired not just geology but the exploitation of the land’s treasures. For this ambitious exhibition, artists including Isaac Julien, Agnes Meyer Brandis, Liz Orton and Ryoichi Kurokawa ponder our relationship to the Earth and to the Universe.