Arts & Culture

Ears and Fingers

Jonathan Beckman

27 January 2022

In​ 1880 the Russian art critic Ivan Lermolieff published Die Werke italienischer Meister (translated into English as Italian Painters), a study of the Italian artworks held in German...

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Smashing Images

Erin Thompson

27 January 2022

On​ the evening of 22 August 1566, a crowd gathered in the town of ’s-Hertogenbosch to listen to an open air sermon by an itinerant Protestant preacher. Afterwards they rushed from church to . . .

Fabergé in London

Rosa Lyster

27 January 2022

The eggs are shorthand for hysterical opulence, an easy target, so that even someone as patrician as Nabokov, from his deckchair on the eastern shore of Lake Geneva, could dismiss them as grotesque. They . . .

What’s the hook?

Helen Thaventhiran

27 January 2022

‘In daily life,​ we regularly rely on hinges, clamps, buttons, zippers, Velcro, laces, knots, stitches, tape, stickers and glue,’ Rita Felski writes. ‘What are their aesthetic equivalents?’ . . .

Hanging Paintings

Nicholas Penny

27 January 2022

When​ the Courtauld Institute of Art moved in 1989 from a house designed by Robert Adam in Portman Square to a wing of Somerset House, William Chambers’s masterpiece, it seemed a very satisfactory . . .

Picasso and Tragedy

T.J. Clark, 17 August 2017

Perhaps, then – though the thought is a grim one – we turn to Guernica with a kind of nostalgia. Suffering and horror were once this large. They were dreadful, but they had a tragic dimension.

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Ian Penman, 2 July 2015

Sinatra’s sexual charge was like his song: underplayed, tinged with unflappable cool picked up second-hand in the shady cloisters of jazz.

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Is Wagner bad for us?

Nicholas Spice, 11 April 2013

Wagner’s work is everywhere preoccupied with boundaries set and overstepped, limits reached and exceeded.

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At the End of My Pencil

Bridget Riley, 8 October 2009

As I drew, things began to change. Quite suddenly something was happening down there on the paper that I had not anticipated. I continued, I went on drawing; I pushed ahead, both intuitively and consciously. The squares began to lose their original form.

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It’s a playground: Kiarostami et Compagnie

Gilberto Perez, 27 June 2002

A photograph of Abbas Kiarostami in Hamid Dabashi’s book shows him crouching over a frying pan that has two eggs in it. Beside him, and like him focused on the eggs, is the original movie camera invented by Lumière.

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That Wooden Leg: Conversations with Don Luis

Michael Wood, 7 September 2000

‘Studio Vingt-Huit – high up a winding street of Montmartre, in the full blasphemy of a freezing Sunday; taxis arriving, friends greeting each other, an excitable afternoon...

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Noovs’ hoovs in the trough

Angela Carter, 24 January 1985

‘Be modern – worship food,’ exhorts the cover of The Official Foodie Handbook. One of the ironies resulting from the North/South dichotomy of our planet is the appearance of this...

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The Raphael Question

Lawrence Gowing, 15 March 1984

When I used to give a survey course for first-year students, I dreaded December. That was when I reached the High Renaissance and my audience fell away. It was not only the alternative seasonable...

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Dressing and Undressing

Anita Brookner, 15 April 1982

Fashion,​ according to Baudelaire, is a moral affair. It is, more specifically, the obligation laid upon a woman to transform herself, outwardly and visibly, into a work of art, or, at the very...

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Peachy: LA Rhapsody

David Thomson, 27 January 2022

This​ is a fabulous book, beautiful, generous, sombre and wise, a wistful romance about a man writing a book like Always Crashing in the Same Car. Don’t fall for that subtitle...

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Joel Coen’s​ The Tragedy of Macbeth takes its cue from the witches. Or, rather, its one witch, played by Kathryn Hunter, who multiplies herself when she feels like it. Early in the film...

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In conventional terms, Solange possesses the ‘weaker’ voice by far – so why is it those passages in ‘Stay Flo’, say, when Solange’s voice is just pure keening vocalese,...

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Blighted Plain: Wiltshire’s Multitudes

Jonathan Meades, 6 January 2022

In​ his introduction to the first edition of The Buildings of England: Wiltshire (1963), Nikolaus Pevsner wrote with barely contained anger thatWiltshire would be as wonderful as it must have...

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Surprise! Fragonard’s Abdications

Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, 6 January 2022

Fragonard represents the sexual encounter as a physical act that absorbs the couple entirely, taking them beyond society: their arms enlaced and their faces, joined by a kiss, obscured from the viewer. In...

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It’s easy to see why St Jerome in His Study was popular – Albrecht Dürer asks us to look into the eyes of the Church Father, close to death, contemplating his life and its labours. But...

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At the Swiss Institute: Rosemary Mayer

Francesca Wade, 6 January 2022

There is something unsettling about the way Rosemary Mayer’s sculptures shift as you walk around them. They move on the air currents, changing colour with the light. Up close, they reveal the...

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Reading books like this, I feel like a Philip K. Dick character in the grip of wild-eyed madness. I want to run around telling the authors to snap out of it, to stop wasting their time and their Sontag...

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No Looking Away: Solo Goya

Tom Stammers, 16 December 2021

However esoteric, these paintings were intended to be seen: Goya thrilled visitors to his house with scenes inspired not just by his own fantasies, but also by the magic lantern shows and phantasmagorias...

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At the Panto

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 December 2021

 It was a festival of Nike socks, North Face joggers, Calvin Klein T-shirts and scooped up hair. It wasn’t a Glasgow I’m accustomed to seeing. The hall was littered with pumpkins, baskets...

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At Dulwich: Helen Frankenthaler

Emily LaBarge, 16 December 2021

Helen Frankenthaler’s work is often described as light and lyrical, but it has a solemnity. Details yield like little shocks. Recognisable forms emerge and disappear again. You might see a butterfly,...

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At the Movies: ‘Dune’

Michael Wood, 16 December 2021

‘Abeginning​ is a very delicate time,’ we are told in Frank Herbert’s novel Dune (1965), and again in David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation. None of that ‘a long time...

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Which red is the real red?

Hal Foster, 2 December 2021

Probably with Magritte in mind, André Breton once offered the image of ‘a man cut in two by a window’ as the paragon of the Surrealist picture. This is close to what Jasper Johns presents:...

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At the Easel

Naomi Grant, 2 December 2021

As a student, I was always taught to look rather than to think, but still life painting seems to confound this wisdom; moments of intense scrutiny so often yield disappointing results. Could it be that...

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Like Colonel Sanders: The Stan Lee Era

Christopher Tayler, 2 December 2021

The​ great realisation of the Stan Lee era at Marvel was that heroes didn’t need to be paragons. They could be anxious teenagers with money worries, like Spider-Man, or members of a bickering...

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Chapels for Sale: At the Altarpiece

Charles Hope, 2 December 2021

Art historians often ask where the saints and the Virgin are and what are they doing in altarpieces, especially those, common in Venice, in which the painted space seems an architectural extension behind...

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At the Movies: ‘Last Night In Soho’

Michael Wood, 18 November 2021

Ghosts​ and time travel don’t usually mix. In the one case, they visit us; in the other, we visit them. In Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, both things happen simultaneously....

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Life Pushed Aside: The Last Asylums

Clair Wills, 18 November 2021

I am haunted by the figure of Rolanda Polonsky, walking through the hospital corridors. If my eight-year-old self had opened the doors that frightened me I might have found her, back then, exactly as she...

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