Five of the best

The Guardian - The Guide - - Exhibitions - Jonathan Jones

1Basquiat Jean-Michel Basquiat re­placed the jazz im­pro­vi­sa­tions of Jack­son Pol­lock with scrawled, death-haunted mes­sages from the street. This raw style made him a sen­sa­tion in 1980s New York. His death in 1988 at the age of just 27 only in­ten­si­fied that rep­u­ta­tion. Now, with the US plunged into po­lit­i­cal and so­cial dis­union, Basquiat looks like a prophet of the coun­try’s woes. He also looks like a re­mark­able painter who showed how youth and re­bel­lion can elec­trify art. Bar­bican Art Gallery, EC2, Thu to 28 Jan

2De­gas “Im­pres­sion­ist” is a woe­fully in­ad­e­quate de­scrip­tion of this artist of ob­ses­sive voyeurism, al­most fright­en­ing ob­ser­va­tional power, and erotic imag­i­na­tion. De­gas lived in a soli­tary world of his own while mov­ing end­lessly through the public spa­ces of Paris, from the bal­let to race tracks and cir­cuses. His stud­ies of women sub­li­mate sex­ual fas­ci­na­tion into images of strange po­etic in­ten­sity. The Na­tional Gallery, WC2, Wed to 7 May

3Martin Boyce The re­al­ity of mod­ern cities is po­tently recre­ated by this 2011 Turner prize-win­ning Glas­gow artist in works that seem ab­stract yet are full of poignant as­so­ci­a­tions. His in­stal­la­tions are like frozen play­grounds where some­thing ter­ri­ble has hap­pened and the swings are off-lim­its. He cre­ates melan­cholic sculp­tural pris­ons from de­cay­ing public spa­ces, bru­tal­ist shop­ping cen­tres and dreary parks.

The Mod­ern In­sti­tute, Glas­gow, Mon to 4 Nov

4Arte Povera For once, the Es­torick Col­lec­tion aban­dons its ob­ses­sion with mi­nor fu­tur­ists and puts on an ex­hi­bi­tion that ac­tu­ally mat­ters. The 1960s Ital­ian group Arte Povera was the first art move­ment to con­front en­vi­ron­men­tal cri­sis. At a time of dra­matic ur­ban­i­sa­tion and eco­nomic growth in Italy, artists such as Mario Merz chose nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als over the plas­tic world of pop. Here their in­flu­ence on Bri­tish artists from Richard Long to Gavin Turk is mapped.

The Es­torick Col­lec­tion of Mod­ern Ital­ian Art, N1, Wed to 17 Dec

5Na­ture Morte Mat Col­lishaw and Gabriel Orozco are among the con­tem­po­rary artists re­vis­it­ing the still life tra­di­tion here. Ever since eye-fool­ing bowls of fruit were in­cluded in an­cient Ro­man fres­coes, the still life’s frozen per­fec­tion has rep­re­sented both life and death. It lends it­self re­mark­ably well to con­cep­tual rein­ven­tions, in­clud­ing Col­lishaw’s eerie re­con­struc­tions of last meals on Death Row. Guild­hall Art Gallery, EC2, to 2 Apr

Basquiat, Un­ti­tled (Pablo Pi­casso) (1984)

De­gas, The Three Dancers (c1896-1905)

Gavin Turk, Small Gold Senza Ti­tolo (2012), part of Arte Povera

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