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Siberian warriors and a Christmas cracker of surrealist fun – the week in art

The King and Queen Surrounded by Swift Nudes (verso with Paradise: Adam and Eve), 1912.
The King and Queen Surrounded by Swift Nudes (verso with Paradise: Adam and Eve), 1912, by Marcel Duchamp. Photograph: © Succession Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP/DACS

Exhibition of the week

Whale skulls, part of the Natural History Museum’s exhibition.
Whale skulls, part of the Natural History Museum’s exhibition. Photograph: Lucie Goodayle/NHM London

Whales: Beneath the Surface
This moving and absorbing encounter with some of the most intelligent and sensitive creatures on Earth is a must for anyone who enjoyed Blue Planet II.
Natural History Museum, London, until 28 February.

Also showing

Dalí/Duchamp
A Christmas cracker of surrealist fun from two great modern mavericks.
Royal Academy, London, until 3 January.

Scythians
Winter has come, and this fascinating trip to the raw and violent Game of Thrones world of Siberia’s ancient nomads is a seasonal chiller.
British Museum, London, until 14 January.

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics
Explore the glamour and poetry of Europe’s strangest multimedia art form, which was invented in the Renaissance and became the unlikely bearer of modern ideas in the age of Wagner.
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, until 25 February.

Susan Philipsz: A Single Voice
This moving exploration of the power of music will warm the Christmassy cockles of your heart.
Baltic, Gateshead, until 4 March.

Masterpiece of the week

Giorgione The Adoration of the Kings

The Adoration of the Kings, 1506-07, Giorgione
There is a joyous openness of design and flow of figures in this heartfelt Venetian Renaissance depiction of the Magi revering the child, whose birth they saw announced by a new star in the sky. Giorgione emphasises the colourful, tight-fitting costumes of the young soldiers who accompanied the kings on their journey, the statuesque anatomy of their horses, the melancholy isolation of Joseph, the gentle animals witnessing this moment of revelation. It is a human, social scene set alight by this great artist’s subtle contrasts of bright colour and more elusive tones of softness and shadow.
National Gallery, London.

Image of the week

Chopped Hand, 2017, by Peter Doig.

Chopped Hand, 2017, by Peter Doig
The paintings in Doig’s new exhibition have the ghostly stillness of Giorgio de Chirico’s empty piazzas frozen in time. The world he paints glows with an inner fire, an ecstatic vision.
Read the full review.

What we learned this week

Why Santa is red

Banksy and Danny Boyle put on an Alternativity in Bethlehem

The beach is a dangerous place in Peter Doig’s world

Paul Nash’s Winter Sea is a place for remembrance

Algerian journalist Zohra Bensemra is the Guardian’s agency photographer of the year

America is rethinking its public monuments

while sculptor Paul Day is ruffling feathers over a statue in Uzbekistan

Arab sound art is making an impression in Nottingham

A “missing” Monet was not lost at all

Tate Modern tackles brutality underground

Steve Schapiro photographed America’s heroic times

Identifying cities from old maps is a challenge

The new Maggie’s Centre at St Bart’s has divided architectural opinion

Melbourne’s NGV Triennial is a smelly blockbuster

Qi Baishi has set a new sale record for a Chinese artist

Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei was inspired by a Swiss cathedral

Wet plate collodion photography is alive and well

We remembered Italian minimalist artist Enrico Castelanni

and graffiti photographer Jon Naar

Get involved

Our A-Z of Art series continues – share your art with the theme Z is for zero. And check out the entries we selected for the theme Y is for yearning.

Don’t forget

To follow us on Twitter: @GdnArtandDesign.

This article titled "Siberian warriors and a Christmas cracker of surrealist fun – the week in art" was written by Jonathan Jones, for theguardian.com on Friday 22 December 2017 12.00pm

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