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Ukrainian Art Heads West

As war continues to rage in Ukraine, the country's art galleries have sent some of their prized works to safety in western Europe, and they'll be on show over the winter in exhibitions in Switzerland and Spain.   More than 100 pictures from Kyiv's National Art Gallery, formerly known as the Kyiv Museum of Russian Art, will be on display at both the Kunstmuseum in Basel and the Musée Rath in Geneva. The Kyiv gallery, one of Ukraine's biggest, has been marking its centenary this year. It suffered damage in a Russian rocket attack and approached the Kunstmuseum in the spring seeking temporary homes for some of its collection of over 14,000 works.  The show in Basel, entitled Born in Ukraine , runs until April 30 and features 63 paintings by 40 Ukrainian artists from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Entry is free of charge. As the name indicates, all the artists featured were born on what is present-day Ukrainian territory, though many trained in Russia. There are a lot of u

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Eva, Elisabeth, Angelica, Laura and Gwen

It turns out that the free exhibition at the National Gallery in London offering you the chance to Discover Manet & Eva Gonzalès provides you with the opportunity to discover a whole lot more besides; there are portraits and self-portraits going back to the late 18th century in a display that puts women artists and the challenges they faced at the forefront. Eva Gonzalès was Edouard Manet's only formal pupil, and his fairly monumental portrait of her, nearly 2 metres high, is a rather strange picture at first sight. She's working on an already framed painting; she seems to be sitting, awkwardly posed, rather too far away from the canvas, the floor is carpeted, and she's wearing a most unsuitable snowy white dress; you wouldn't want to get any paint on her clothes or the carpet. It wasn't an easy painting for Manet to get right; there were apparently numerous sittings and a lot of reworking. You might assume that the elegantly clad young woman dabbing at a pictu

Opening and Closing in December

"Here she comes/You better watch your step/She's going to break your heart in two/It's true." Lou Reed wrote the song ; Now the Kunsthalle in Hamburg brings you the pictures. Femme Fatale: Gaze -- Power -- Gender  looks at how painters in the late 19th and early 20th centuries -- Pre-Raphaelites, Symbolists and Impressionists among them -- developed the image, as well as how modern women artists have attempted to reinterpret it. With around 200 exhibits, it's on from December 9 to April 10.  Our preview this month is very much centred on Germany as that is where most of the openings are this December. In Berlin, the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg is looking back a full century to the premiere of the seminal horror movie with Phantoms of the Night: 100 Years of Nosferatu . The curators explore how FW Murnau's 1922 film drew on sources such as Goya and Caspar David Friedrich and how this silent movie went on to influence the Surrealists as well as popular culture d

Without Hands

It's a story of triumph over adversity.  And an amazing piece of social history too. This is the tale of a woman who overcame severe disability to make a career out of painting, and not in modern times, but two centuries ago. There's a free exhibition all about her at the Philip Mould gallery in central London. It's called  "Without Hands": The Art of Sarah Biffin , and it's fascinating. Sarah Biffin was born into a farming family in Somerset in 1784, with neither arms nor legs, according to baptism records. She suffered from the same condition as the contemporary artist Alison Lapper , famously immortalised by Marc Quinn on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. She was well known enough in Victorian times to have been mentioned on several occasions in the novels of Charles Dickens, but then she somehow faded from view.  Given the child mortality rates in the Georgian era, it would be wonder enough that a severely disabled baby like Sarah Biffin reached adul

They Came from the South

They left their troubled homeland to seek a new life in the North, refugees fleeing poverty, war and religious persecution. But unlike many modern asylum-seekers, they didn't actually travel that far, just from Flanders to Holland. And they spoke the same language, more or less.  Their destination was Haarlem, and the thousands who arrived there from the Spanish-ruled southern Netherlands in the late 16th and early 17th centuries would change the face of the city, its art and architecture for ever. They included its most famous painter, and their legacy is highlighted in an exhibition called  Newcomers  at the art gallery that bears his name, the Frans Hals Museum.   Not surprisingly, it's Hals himself who is the star turn in this exhibition that provides an intriguing lesson in art history and Dutch history. There are nine of his paintings on show here, seven of them loaned from elsewhere. This one -- Two Fisherboys -- is a picture that really makes an impression on you, prob

The Rhino that Made the Grand Tour -- Twice!

It's not easy being an international celebrity; you need a thick skin. Luckily, Clara was a rhinoceros.  But even though she was feted as she toured Europe, Clara lived a lonely life. Her mother was killed when she was captured by hunters in Assam at the age of just one month in 1738. For the next 20 years until her death, she never saw another rhino. She can't actually have known what she looked like.  The story of this 18th-century animal superstar is told at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in  Clara the Rhinoceros . It's an exhibition for art-lovers, animal-lovers and history-lovers, and it's absolutely fascinating and fun.  And let's introduce you to the star of the show: Clara herself. Jean-Baptiste Oudry painted her in Paris in 1749, life-size. She was 11 years old, 3.6 metres long and 1.7 metres tall; and she weighed more than 2 1/2 tonnes. Yes, that painting is life-size; just try to imagine it on your wall.  What made Clara so special? Well, hardly anyone in 1

Gustav Klimt, Borrower of Ideas

Gustav Klimt was not as original a painter as you might think. For the proof, head to  Golden Boy Gustav Klimt  at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It's a terrible title, but a really engrossing and eye-opening exhibition, showing you exactly how much Klimt's work was influenced not just by some of the other big names in late 19th- and early 20th-century art such as Vincent van Gogh, Auguste Rodin and Edvard Munch, but also by painters you tend not to mention in the same breath: Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Franz von Stuck and, er, Jan Toorop.  Jan Toorop? Yes, if you're looking for the inspiration for Klimt's dreamy, sensual  Water Serpents , with their flowing hair and accompaniments of golden stars, flowers and fish, look no further than along the wall, where The Dutchman's The Three Brides , created a decade earlier, hangs.  Toorop's Symbolist drawing is by no stretch of the imagination as seductive or memorable an image as Klimt's painting, but you only have