Arts & Culture

‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

Michael Wood

22 April 2021

Shaka King’sJudas and the Black Messiah (available on Amazon Prime) leaves us in no doubt as to who is the more interesting character. This preference is obscured (or perhaps...

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‘The Botanical Mind’

Martha Barratt

22 April 2021

At the start​ of the First World War, 12-year-old Tom Harris moved with his family to a semi-derelict mansion on the outskirts of Leicester. Struggling at school and with few friends, he built a . . .

Drama of the Gowns

Lisa Cohen

22 April 2021

For​ almost thirty years, I have stored in my small New York apartment clothes that belonged to my grandmother. An unlined shirt-jacket of raw silk, brilliant green, that she sewed in the 1960s or . . .

Prove your Frenchness

Julian Barnes

22 April 2021

In​ 2016, Theresa May told the Conservative Party Conference: ‘If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very . . .


Harry Strawson

1 April 2021

When I ask my friends, they don’t remember their early raves either – just the venue, perhaps (a warehouse somewhere near the eastern end of the District line; a splinter of wood­ land . . .

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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Aboutness: Bosch in Paradise

T.J. Clark, 1 April 2021

It would be horrible – ludicrous – to be solemn about Bosch, one of whose lessons is that Doom is a comedy; and whose picture of Utopia (heaven on earth, the pursuit of happiness) is of weightless,...

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For Roland Barthes, the Encyclopédie’s peaceful scenes and ordered arrangements of objects, materials and tools conceal a violence, a ‘wild surrealism’ that, whether we want it...

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Lee Daniels’s​ The United States v. Billie Holiday (on Sky Cinema) hesitates a little about what kind of movie it is. Is it about the war on drugs, with Holiday’s career as an...

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Silence is survival: there’s a thin line, as The Wiz illustrates, between exuberant shouts and terrified screams. When Diana Ross sings the words ‘happy ending’ in ‘Is This What...

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Open in a Scream

Colm Tóibín, 4 March 2021

Since Bacon was known for his tangled personal life, his gambling, his drinking and the chaos of his studio, with the stories of his sexual habits and ghastly Irish childhood in circulation, something...

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On the A1

Andrew O’Hagan, 4 March 2021

‘The road is a no man’s land on the edge of society,’ Rupert Martin wrote in 1983, introducing Paul Graham’s photo­graphs of the A1, ‘and its inhabitants...

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At the National Gallery: Artemisia

Clare Bucknell, 4 March 2021

Artemisia Gentileschi, who understood – and relied on – the fact that male collectors were liable to see her face and body behind each Judith, Cleopatra or Susannah, was no stranger to playing...

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Blowing religious buildings up was appealing to the Bolsheviks, but so was protecting them as symbols of national heritage and pride; or preserving them while transforming their use and meaning, turning...

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At the Movies: ‘One Night in Miami’

Michael Wood, 18 February 2021

There​ is plenty of angry talk in Regina King’s One Night in Miami – available on Amazon Prime and adapted from Kemp Powers’s play – but the cruellest remark is very...

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The Rio group’s photographs engage with their subjects, who aren’t documented but rather are in dialogue with the camera, active participants in the cultural and political life around them....

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Motorised Youth Rebellion: Radical LA

Andy Beckett, 18 February 2021

A typical headline in the Los Angeles Times read: HIPPIES BLAMED FOR DECLINE OF THE SUNSET STRIP. Yet in the longer term the teenagers won a partial victory. As the bands that played on the Strip...

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In​ the opening scene of his television series Civilisation (1969), Kenneth Clark admits that while he can’t define exactly what civilisation is, he knows it when he sees it. The camera...

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The Phonic and the Phoney: Being Hans Keller

Nicholas Spice, 4 February 2021

The source of Keller’s energy and drive was what he called ‘musical truth’, the revelation of a metaphysical reality deeper than anything accessible to other art forms. Like the aficionados...

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At the Movies: ‘Mank’

Michael Wood, 21 January 2021

Much​ of what Pauline Kael had to say in ‘Raising Kane’ (1971), her long article in the New Yorker, got lost in the controversy it created. One of her aims was to draw attention to...

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The Masks of Doom

Niela Orr, 21 January 2021

Some of us followed Doom because we thought we were too cool for David Blaine. Doom’s tricks were breath control, intricate rhyme schemes, a beating heart beneath the cold veneer, of which he gave...

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At the British Museum: Tantra

James Butler, 21 January 2021

It began​ with the beheading of a god. In a dispute over theological primacy, Brahma – traditionally identified as the creator – insulted Shiva. The offended deity poured all his...

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Beethoven was everything at once – impatient, brave, long-suffering, petty, short-tempered, honest, generous to his friends, cruel to his family, ductile and intractable, worldly and deeply innocent....

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On the Sofa: ‘Small Axe’

Yohann Koshy, 7 January 2021

The poet​ Linton Kwesi Johnson calls the first two generations of Caribbean people in postwar Britain the ‘heroic’ generation and the ‘rebel’ generation. The Windrush...

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