arts and design

'New' England rethought, hot tantric tickets and rodeo's queer makeover – the week in art

Exhibition of the week

Mayflower 400: Legend & Legacy
Native American art, including a work by contemporary Wampanoag artist Nosapocket/Ramona Peters, is set beside early settler documents and artefacts in this exhibition about the Puritan refugees from Stuart England who created a “New” England across the Atlantic.
The Box, Plymouth.

Also showing

One of India’s most creative streams of spiritual practice gets a blockbuster survey that starts with its roots in the middle ages and follows it through Asia to 1960s California, where tantric rituals entered pop culture, and the western bedroom. But the wonders here will be works of art that throb with sacred imagination, rather than act as a sex guide.
British Museum, London, until 24 January.

Mary Weatherford
This Californian abstract painter loves train yards. She gets inspiration from their spread of steel, wood and wagons and the sounds of shunting. The paintings in this exhibition, created in the last four years, are big and thickly smeared, with neon light added. She is in a tradition of American industrial modernism that goes back to George Bellows painting the New York docks in the early 1900s.
Gagosian Grosvenor Hill, London, until 19 December.

William Mackrell
Bodily life is seen uncomfortably close in the tantalising works of this 21st-century, London-born surrealist. Hair like iron filings sprouts in all the wrong ways on the upturned male face in his etched photo Breathless (pictured). A magazine photo is sunk in dreamy flotsam like a long-lost sentimental memory in another of these peculiar and haunting images.
Lungley Gallery at Seventeen, London, until 10 October.

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Cecily Brown
Presumably the security has improved at Blenheim Palace since Maurizio Cattelan’s gold loo was stolen from his exhibition there last September. Now the immense baroque house built for Queen Anne’s favourite, Sarah Churchill, has been redecorated by expressionist painter Cecily Brown. She has studied its old master paintings and regurgitates them in a louche and loud painterly banquet.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until 3 January.

Huma Bhabha
Bhabha sculpts monsters. The Pakistani-American artist’s creations look dead and alive at the same time. They are freakish, composite figures made of a bizarre mix of organic and human-made materials, as if they are trying to forge identities from bric-a-brac. Encounter the displaced anguish of the contemporary condition.
Baltic, Gateshead, until 21 February.

Image of the week

Luke Gilfords
Photograph: Luke Gilford

America’s queer cowboys
Photographer Luke Gilford spent four years immersing himself in LGBTQ+ rodeo culture – and discovered a world where steer-roping meets lip-sync battles and camp glamour. The result is a book, National Anthems, documenting his time at the rodeo. Read our interview with Gilford and see a gallery of his images.

What we learned

We explore Plymouth’s £46m ‘storage shed-like’ Box gallery

The Royal Academy faces a dilemma: sell a Michelangelo or cut 500 jobs

Brad Downey, the US artist behind a controversial statue of the First Lady Melania Trump, explains his motivation

Indigenous artist Vincent Namatjira won Australia’s $100,000 Archibald prize

Photo-sharing app Instagram is 10 years old

Architects revealed their ideas for post-Covid cities

The British Museum shows there’s more to tantra than marathon sex and massages

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Huma Bhabha taps into a sense of unease

Hettie Judah visited the inaugural Brent art festival, complete with a giant George Michael

An immersive film at the Imperial War Museum offered a look inside Lesbos refugee camp

A Sydney exhibition resurrects Van Gogh

Danh Vo sets London alight

The Walsall exhibition We Are Here showcase black female photographers

Ann Veronica Janssens throws a delightful party

An $80m Botticelli is coming to auction

while a rejected Tintin book cover by Hergé could fetch €3m

A documentary shows how woodcarver George Nakashima went against the grain

Artist Jonathan Yeo shared the creative process behind his portrait of Jamie Oliver

Poland unveiled a statue of a superhuman Pope John Paul II

The Botanical Mind grows on you

Derry Moore captured LS Lowry in the shadows

The early work of Italian photographer Olivo Barbieri made us question reality

Annalee Davis illustrated the wild biodiversity of Barbados

We peeked at book illustrator Pamela Allen’s archive

And looked at winners of the Jarman award for artists using the moving image

We saluted the work of film production designer Ron Cobb

Masterpiece of the week

Paolo Veronese, The Family of Darius before Alexander 1565-7 (c) The National Gallery, London
Photograph: The National Gallery, London.

The Family of Darius before Alexander, 1565-57, by Veronese
This crowded canvas makes history intimate. The family of the defeated Persian emperor are pleading for clemency – but they ask the wrong man. They’ve mistaken the flamboyantly dressed Hephaestion in his orange cloak and glittering armour for the brilliant young Macedonian empire-builder Alexander. They get mercy anyway from the real Alexander, in pink. In Veronese’s aristocratic vision the tender Alexander and his officers are poised, sensitive and chivalrous. But the fun of this picfure lies in Veronese’s epic sweep, from a pet monkey to spectators on the classical architecture he imagines. Veronese captures the mood of Renaissance Venice in his passion for wealth, style, crowds, light and space.
National Gallery, London

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Don’t forget

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