Exhibition of the week
Gainsborough’s Family Album
This artist who made a living profiling the rich painted some of his greatest portraits for himself, to record his love of his family.
• National Portrait Gallery, London, until 3 February.
The metallic optimism of Léger’s paintings of a utopian – and feminine – future makes him one of modern art’s simplest delights.
• Tate Liverpool, until 17 March.
Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho: News from Nowhere
A science fiction film that has partly been shot in Liverpool provokes thoughts about art and society in the tradition of William Morris’s utopian work News from Nowhere.
• Tate Liverpool from 23 November.
Abstract art that’s partly inspired by the Bauhaus designs of Anni Albers.
• Pace Gallery, London, until 11 January.
Freezers and Spandau Ballet feature in an installation that evokes the last days of the cold war.
• Modern Art, London, until 21 December.
Masterpiece of the week
The Healing of the Man Born Blind, circa 1307-11, by Duccio di Buoninsegna
This medieval masterpiece has a precocious grasp of pictorial space that lets Duccio and his assistants create a tiny vignette of real life. The passionate foreground scene of Christ giving sight to a man who was blind is set against a very real and solid portrayal of a town in simple perspective. The buildings recede away from us in space, giving depth and solidity to this painted world. Artists had not been able to do this before and the idea of perspective would not “officially” enter art until a century later. Nor is this just a technical gimmick. Duccio worked in the Tuscan walled city of Siena and it’s this town we see. Lifelike art brings Christ on to the streets where hope is needed.
• National Gallery, London
Image of the week
Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures), 1972, by David Hockney
One of David Hockney’s much-loved California swimming pool paintings set a new auction sale price record for a living artist: $90.3m (£70.5m). The work, estimated at $80m, was sold at Christie’s in New York. In the picture, Hockney’s former lover and muse Peter Schlesinger is standing at the edge of the pool looking down at a figure swimming towards him. The picture dates back to the year their affair ended, and it has been speculated that the swimmer was Schlesinger’s new lover. Read the full story.
What we learned
To follow us on Twitter: @GdnArtandDesign