Arts & Culture

‘Annette’

Michael Wood

23 September 2021

Songs​ by Sparks (or the Mael brothers) include ‘When You’re a French Director’, ‘Edith Piaf Said It Better Than Me’, ‘Angst in My Pants’, ‘Life...

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Velázquez’s Distance

T.J. Clark

23 September 2021

Expressions, especially ones as charged and impenetrable as this, are for where words fail us, where we’re lost for them. Aesop’s original muteness – the original muteness of each individual . . .

‘Afterness’

Sam Kinchin-Smith

23 September 2021

Afterness, Artangel’s latest installation of new artworks in ‘unexpected places’, opened in June on Orford Ness, a weather-beaten spit of Suffolk shingle a few miles downcoast from Aldeburgh . . .

Learned Behaviour

Luke Jennings

23 September 2021

When​ the Royal Ballet returned to Covent Garden earlier this year after fourteen months of cancelled shows and empty auditoriums, its public announcements were upbeat. The new season (which has . . .

Ben Hecht’s Cause

Geoffrey Wheatcroft

23 September 2021

In​ the early 1920s, Herman J. Mankiewicz (‘Mank’) and Ben Hecht were not very successful writers in New York. Then Mank ventured west, the first of what was to become an exodus of literary . . .

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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Swoonatra

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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At the Garden Museum: Constance Spry

Rosemary Hill, 9 September 2021

Somewhere between handicraft and hobby and associated mostly with women, flower arranging conjures up images of 1950s housewives filling the suburban afternoons or savage competition at the WI. Constance...

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The Caviar Club: Rebel with a Hermès Scarf

Azadeh Moaveni, 9 September 2021

‘Despite international rhetoric,’ the  V&A curators claim, ‘Iranian culture, even beyond fine art, travels well.’ They cite the films of Asghar Farhadi and the popularity...

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Thinking about people packed together, breathing together underground, brings the dark nights of the Blitz into the present. This world feels foreign, but also familiar. The very idea of shelter, sheltering,...

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The Russian state lab in Sochi was the official drug testing facility for the whole games. As head of the lab, Grigory Rodchenkov’s work was overseen by Wada, an organisation in denial about Russian...

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At MoMA PS1: Niki de Saint Phalle

Lidija Haas, 12 August 2021

Halfway​ through Structures for Life, the Niki de Saint Phalle exhibition at MoMA PS1 (until 6 September), is a letter Saint Phalle wrote to her muse and sometime lover, Clarice Rivers....

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At the Movies: Bette Davis

Michael Wood, 12 August 2021

Ilearned​ only recently, from Charlotte Chandler’s biography, that Bette Davis had taken her first name from a Balzac novel, not knowing, apparently, that the character in question was...

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‘It is not easy to conceive a more striking object than the Parthenon, though now a mere ruin.’ But the Parthenon is sidelined in one of the views and absent in the other. Instead, centre stage...

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Strewn with Loot

Adewale Maja-Pearce, 12 August 2021

Because the British Museum has artefacts from so many other places the British pillaged and destroyed, and because many more people visit London than Benin City, or even Lagos, it follows that this is...

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On Diego Rivera

Julia Bryan-Wilson, 12 August 2021

Though billed as an optimistic vision of ‘Pan American Unity’, Rivera’s mural has an ominous quality: we can see evidence of imperialism, fascism, the extraction of natural resources....

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On the Bus

Andrew O’Hagan, 29 July 2021

On London buses, the passengers no longer speak to one another. They speak on their phone, often using a different sort of voice. Most are silent behind their masks. Only the gangs of school kids offer...

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How bad can it be? Getting away with it

John Lanchester, 29 July 2021

Of the very, very many things that make fans cross, nothing makes them crosser than penalties and sendings-off induced by simulation. We all know what it looks like: the faintest contact with a defender...

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Leave me my illusions: Antiquarianism

Nicholas Penny, 29 July 2021

Moonlight on broken stone tracery is a common motif; dark interiors provide a foil for stained glass and for white satin and deep blue velvet. The men must be away on the crusades. Young women are sobbing...

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Diana of the Upper Air

Lavinia Greenlaw, 29 July 2021

For​ a short while the highest point of the New York skyline was marked by a girl standing on tiptoe. At night she was also the brightest point, the focus of 66 incandescent lamps and ten spotlights,...

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No More D Minor: Tallis Survives

Peter Phillips, 29 July 2021

The comparison with Holbein, whose political agility and artistic range – from grand public portraits to miniature devotional images – allowed him to fashion the age, is a fair one. Tallis’s...

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At the Barbican: Jean Dubuffet

T.J. Clark, 29 July 2021

Afew​ weeks ago, I came across a young poet saying that the book he had been turning to during Covid was Francis Ponge’s Le Parti Pris des choses. (Siding with Things, the translation of...

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True Bromance: Ravi Shankar’s Ragas

Philip Clark, 15 July 2021

The rules stated which notes needed to be emphasised; the stress on certain notes locked others out of the design, thus creating the melodic shapes that gave each raga its personality. In performance,...

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Thomas Becket​ was not the first archbishop of Canterbury to meet a violent end – Archbishop Alphege was killed by Vikings in 1012 – but he was unique in other ways. Unlike his...

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Short Cuts: Nautical Dramas

Jeremy Harding, 15 July 2021

One​ of the most seductive items for sale on the website of Arthur Beale, yacht chandler, is a ‘chart work pack’ for just under thirty quid. It includes an elegant course plotter,...

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