Exhibition of the week

Bridget Riley
The most brilliant abstract artist Britain has had unveils a wall painting called Messengers, whose constellation of colours evokes images in the National Gallery that range from angelic wings to Constable’s clouds.
National Gallery, London, from 17 January.

Also showing

A detail from the video Deux Soeurs Qui Ne Sont Pas Soeurs (Two Sisters Who Aren’t Sisters), 2018. Photograph: copyright Beatrice Gibson / Courtesy the artist

Beatrice Gibson
Donald Trump’s inauguration and a screenplay by Gertrude Stein feature in new films exploring the power of feminism.
Camden Arts Centre, London, 18 January-31 March.

La Caixa Collection of Contemporary Art selected by Enrique Vila-Matas
Spain’s leading novelist chooses works by Gerhard Richter, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and others.
Whitechapel Gallery, London, 17 January-28 April.

Heather Phillipson
The Baltic’s biggest gallery becomes an apocalyptic landscape of mixed-media images in this fantastical installation.
Baltic, Gateshead, until 24 March.

Nicolas Deshayes
Expect surreal casts and inversions of everyday things that question the fabric of reality.
Modern Art, London,12 January-16 February.

Masterpiece of the week


The Lady With a Fan, circa 1640, by Diego Velázquez

The Spanish Mona Lisa. Photograph: Cassandra Parsons/Wallace Collection

The Lady With a Fan, circa 1640, by Diego Velázquez
Who is the mysterious lady with a fan? She seems to deliberately create enigma and ambiguity. Wearing traditional Spanish dress, she gazes out of the painting as if at someone she knows. Her black headdress and shawl and white gloves set off a face that is acutely real, mottled with complex emotion. Velázquez uses the two sides of his painterly genius – his unrivalled sensual understanding of colour and texture, and capacity for rough, almost lumpen naturalism – to create a truly magical effect. She is ordinary yet glamorous, and has an elusive, paradoxical beauty. No wonder the theories about her identity range from her having been Velázquez’s wife, to a courtesan, to an exiled French aristocrat. She will always keep her secrets, because the artist planned it that way. She is the Spanish Mona Lisa.
Wallace Collection, London.

Image of the week


Ils Arrivent Pieds Nus par la Mer (They Arrive Barefoot from the Sea).

Ils Arrivent Pieds Nus par la Mer (They Arrive Barefoot from the Sea). Photograph: Maud Veith

Maud Veith’s photograph of migrants on a migrant dinghy fleeing Libya

“I’m employed by SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières to document humanitarian rescue missions in the Mediterranean. But I’m also part of the team of sailor-rescuers … As a photographer I’m a witness, but there’s always the possibility that I’ll need to put down the camera and be hands-on … This is one of the few images I have where the rescued people are looking straight at me. I shot it from the vantage point of one of the rescue boats; someone next to me from the rescue team must have been giving instructions about how to get on [rescue ship] the Aquarius.”

What we learned

Edvard Munch’s The Scream is heading to the British Museum

Jeremy Deller is premiering new work on Desert Island Discs

Kehinde Wiley is on a mission to bring diversity to museums

New images of locations painted by Turner show the impact of climate change

How the US government shutdown affects museums

Who our art critic deems the greatest artist of all time: Leonardo or Rembrandt

Precisely how cool the Siberian city of Yakutsk really is

That Chris Killip has captured the last days of shipbuilding …

… while Warren Kirk captures a nostalgic beauty in Australia’s suburbs

That “research architecture” is redefining art

Cabbies from around the world can take us on a tour through Hastings

French artist Pierre Huyghe is drawn to the seductive and the asburd …

… and the all-female Lumina photography collective is tackling identity from many angles

Wendy Ramshaw is exploring the boundaries between jewellery, sculpture, installation and design

What Florida looked like in the 1980s – from Mar-a-Lago to Cadillacs and crocs …

… and what the famed Chrysler Building looked like through the decades

How drawing can connect us to nature

Don’t forget

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