Love stories and Lionel Messi – the week in art

The secrets of couples who’ve been together for over 50 years, and the World Press Photo winners ... plus art-world record breakers, a fake soul superstar, and the explosive relaunch of the Whitworth Art Gallery – in your weekly art dispatch

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Exhibition of the week

Adam Chodzko
This highly subversive artist presents a public artwork inspired by a mysterious 18th-century toolchest and entitled Great Expectations. Expect a tease.
Guildhall Museum, Rochester and other local venues until September.

Other exhibitions this week

Cornelia Parker
The noted neo-surrealist exploder of taken-for-granted stuff has the opening show at the redesigned, relaunched Whitworth.
Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, until 31 May.

Magnificent Obsessions
Artists’ collections of all kinds of stuff, from cookie jars to skulls, make for a quirky exhibition.
Barbican Art Gallery, London, until 25 May.

Viviane Sassen
Black-and-white photographs of everyday life in the Surinamese rain forest.
ICA, London, until 12 April.

John Hubbard
Paintings inspired by the light and colours of Morocco.
New Art Centre, Salisbury, until 22 March.

Masterpiece of the week

Saint Francis in Meditation (1635-39) by Francisco de Zurbarán.
Saint Francis in Meditation (1635-39) by Francisco de Zurbarán. Photograph: National Gallery Collection/Corbis

 

Saint Francis in Meditation (1635-39) by Francisco de Zurbarán
This is one of the most eerily compelling works of art you’ll ever see. It has to be experienced for real, in the gallery, to feel its full power, which depends on a brilliant optical effect. The space inside the kneeling saint’s hood seems black and empty; only by looking harder do you start to see his eyes in the darkness. That journey into shadow is a genuinely spiritual shock.
National Gallery, London.

Image of the week

Jon and Alex by Mads Nissen draws attention to the legal and social discrimination and harassment faced by gay people in Russia
Taking first prize in the contemporary issues singles category at the World Press Photo awards, Jon and Alex by Mads Nissen draws attention to the discrimination faced by gay people in Russia. Photograph: Mads Nissem/EPA/Scanpix/Panos Pictures

What we learned this week

That pictures of gay couples in Russia, Lionel Messi and a Christmas decoration factory in China have won the World Press Photo awards.

The mystery of Mingering Mike: the soul superstar who never existed.

The love stories of happy couples who have been together more than half a century.

How Damien Hirst is cashing in on Valentines Day.

That Gauguin’s When Will You Marry? has become most expensive artwork ever.

Gerhard Richter has broken another record at auction ….

And what the 10 most expensive artworks ever sold are.

That a new John Singer Sargent exhibition is addictive and scintillating.

That Pablo Picasso’s granddaughter is ready to offload thousands of his artworks ….

… And that the trial of Picasso’s handyman, who claims the artist gave him 271 works of art, has started.

That the first-ever retrospective of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s architecture shows a true genius at work.

That a man has spent 10 years trying to track down a fake rock that Ed Ruscha left in the Mojave desert.

How lavish Russian mafia gravestones are.

That modern art has finally boxed itself into a corner.

How salad scoops and missiles sum up Britain.

How the London Eye came to be.

How much Skid Row has changed in 30 years.

What the Big Apple looked like in the 70s.

And how Motor City crumbled in the 90s.

What photographs about the black British experience reveal.

And finally …

Share your landscapes with us now for a chance to be exhibited in London and New York.