Arts & Culture

Painting: ‘Opus 217: Against the Enamel of a Back­ ground Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon’ (1890) by Paul Signac.

Félix Fénéon

Hal Foster

3 December 2020

Which​ modern artists identified with anarchism? The Dadaists would be a good guess, but the truly political ones, such as John Heartfield and George Grosz, were communists, and since the early...

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Consumptive Chic

Kate Retford

3 December 2020

Emma Hart, on the right, dancing the tarantella with a friend (1796). In​ the 1770s, Ann Frankland Lewis began producing watercolour paintings of fashionable women’s dress. She continued creating . . .

Alone in Venice

Colm Tóibín

19 November 2020

Suddenly,​ there was nothing to complain about. No cruise ships went up the Giudecca Canal. There were no tourists clogging up the narrow streets. Piazza San Marco was often completely deserted . . .

Trevor Paglen

Daniel Soar

19 November 2020

The​ usual four white walls, but in each corner a screen, surveilling the gallery. Normally the display is pale pink but at times it flicks to grey, indicating that someone somewhere is watching . . .


Michael Wood

19 November 2020

It’s​ an old narrative device and a very effective one: to provide the day or month without mentioning the year. Garrett Bradley’s new feature-length documentary, Time (on Amazon Prime) . . .

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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Summarising Oneself: Degas’s Vanity

Julian Barnes, 19 November 2020

Degas’s notion of success was particular to him. He wanted only artistic success, of which he was the sole judge. But he was absolutely, ruthlessly uninterested in fame, in social conquest, in honours,...

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Clare Bucknell, 19 November 2020

In​ 1660, a Commonwealth warship called HMS Naseby sailed to the Dutch Republic to bring the new king-in-waiting home to England. During its journey the ship was renamed the Royal Charles in...

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He dis­liked autograph-hounds and being ident­ified wherever he went – but he would have been lost without these things. When a passer­by told him he didn’t look like Cary Grant,...

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Diary: The only girl in the moshpit

Joanna Biggs, 5 November 2020

I am the feminist killjoy of Caitlin Moran’s nightmares, scratching my biroed objections all over the book, making a reading list for her in my head. She wrote her first book to eliminate people...

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Book Reviewing: On the ‘TLS’

Stefan Collini, 5 November 2020

In July​ 1921, Alfred Harmsworth – by then ennobled as Viscount Northcliffe, proprietor of the Daily Mail, the Times, and numerous other publications – wrote in irritable mood to the...

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Short Cuts: Fox News

Deborah Friedell, 5 November 2020

Trump is known to watch so much Fox News (up to seven hours a day, coded on his schedule as ‘executive time’) that some advertisers – farmers seeking subsidies, airlines opposed to foreign...

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Rosa Bonheur exemplifies the problem of the ‘exceptional’ woman painter, whose extraordinary success was interpreted as an anomaly. She styled herself as a Romantic genius like George Sand,...

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At the HKW: Aby Warburg

Chloe Aridjis, 5 November 2020

From a distance some panels resemble a deconstructed frieze, or funerary stele. As you draw closer, you become aware of the many strange marriages and collisions. Aby Warburg believed that modernity was...

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Dada invited outrage – its primary aim was to shock people out of aesthetic complacency – and to this day many art lovers dismiss Duchamp and company as so much blague. But Walter Serner ups...

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At the Shrink

Janique Vigier, 22 October 2020

Some days appear as condensed photo-essays (taxi cabs, sunsets, newsstands, parking lots, luminous white clouds), visual counterparts to her riffs on colour and sensation. In Bernadette Mayer’s...

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At the Movies: ‘Enola Holmes’

Michael Wood, 22 October 2020

It’s​ not the main function of great fictional characters to provide platforms for the careers of others, but they do the job very well. In a new film, Sherlock Holmes walks into...

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Goldfish are my homies

John Lahr, 22 October 2020

Fish sleep with their eyes open: not our kind of sleep, more like our kind of daydream. Awake but not awake, just like me; living to eat and conserve energy, just like me; devoid of answers, just like...

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Better on TV: The Tennis Craze

Jon Day, 8 October 2020

Before tennis, most sports were enjoyed because they were pleasurable to play, but tennis created space for a new kind of participant: the spectator (more people in the world today play badminton than...

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I’m being a singer: Dandy Highwaymen

Andrew O’Hagan, 8 October 2020

What was this nonsense all about? What about Marc Almond’s ‘Sex Dwarf’? What happened to the youth-club boys in their mothers’ ruffled blouses tottering around in heels and shouting...

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Strange Apprentice

T.J. Clark, 8 October 2020

The coming together of Cézanne and Pissarro – their common cause, their peaceful co­existence, their rivalry, their contrariety – is a mystery. For me it is the deepest mystery of...

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The idea of dismantling such an intricate historical building, transporting it across the ocean and recreating it in an institution may seem anachronistic, even reckless. But the architectural ethos behind...

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It’s not that Ken Burns’s documentaries are as conservative formally as they end up being politically. It’s that, inadvertently, the two end up being one and the same. If you’re...

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From 1931 until the outbreak of war, Hampstead was the home of an emerging progressivism in art – not quite radical, a little domestic in fact, and also in thrall to the bolder experiments taking...

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