Arts & Culture

Madame Dimanche by Alice Paalen Rahon

Alice Paalen Rahon

Mary Ann Caws

10 February 2020

AlicePaalen Rahon was a shape-shifter par excellence, who casually changed her date and place of birth (1904 in Besançon, not 1916 in Brittany), her name and nationality, sexual orientation and artistic genre. After publishing three volumes of poems in French as Alice Paalen, she divorced and took her mother’s maiden name, Rahon; by now living in Mexico, she turned almost...

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John Boorman’s Quiet Ending

David Thomson

9 February 2020

We’re not​ dealing with an ordinary man, or a conformist. There he is in the abandoned shell of Fort Point in San Francisco, this fierce and frightened man, looking like Lee Marvin. The fat . . .

The West Bund Museum

John-Paul Stonard

9 February 2020

The​ West Bund quarter of Shanghai runs along a bend of the Huangpu river, about eight kilometres south of the city’s downtown. There were once docks here, with a large facility for mixing . . .

‘Cosmo’ for Capitalists

Stefan Collini

27 January 2020

‘How​ do you write like the Economist?’ a new member of staff asked as he began to compose his first leading article for the paper some years ago. ‘Pretend you are God,’ . . .

Kara Walker’s ‘Fons Americanus’

Cora Gilroy-Ware

27 January 2020

Kara​ Walker’s Fons Americanus, currently on display in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall (until 5 April), is a towering monument – more than forty feet tall – based loosely on Thomas . . .

Picasso and Tragedy

T.J. Clark, 16 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, 1 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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My Lines

Bridget Riley, 8 October 2009

For me, drawing is an inquiry, a way of finding out – the first thing that I discover is that I do not know. This is alarming even to the point of momentary panic. Only experience reassures...

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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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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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Michael Wood, 27 January 2020

The theme of social ascent, or social difference as a landscape, could hardly be more obvious, but we are beginning to get the movie’s idea: not to avoid stereotypes but to keep crashing into them.

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Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny, 13 January 2020

It’s​ not hard to think of painters who took up sculpture: Raphael (probably), Guido Reni (at least once), Frederic Leighton, Degas, Renoir (unfortunately), Picasso. But sculptors have...

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The​ problem presented by Troy: Myth and Reality at the British Museum is not so much the myth as the reality (until 8 March). Troy was a tiny city in what is now the northwestern corner of...

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Pevsner's Hertfordshire

Gillian Darley, 22 December 2019

The volumes​ of the Buildings of England series initiated by Nikolaus Pevsner unsurprisingly confine themselves to buildings and their settings, but it’s tempting to be distracted by what...

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At the Movies: 'Marriage Story'

Michael Wood, 22 December 2019

We​ have seen so many other worlds in movies recently that shabby domestic realism, showing the details of a marriage and its break-up, real streets and familiar furniture, can come as something...

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At the Ashmolean: Pompeii

Christopher Siwicki, 22 December 2019

The​ excellent exhibition Last Supper at Pompeii at the Ashmolean (until 12 January) is about much more than what Pompeians had for dinner. A fresco that once decorated the lararium (the shrine...

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Did Leonardo paint it?

Charles Hope, 22 December 2019

There is no clear indication from the 16th century of the existence of a picture of the Salvator Mundi by Leonardo himself, and it is rather surprising that he should have made one given that his...

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Short Cuts: ‘Little Women’ Redux

Joanna Biggs, 22 December 2019

I envy girls their literature. There’s no literature about getting old, staying in (or leaving) a marriage, raising (or not raising) children comparable with that about growing up.

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At the British Museum: Käthe Kollwitz

Anne Wagner, 22 December 2019

The exhibition​ of etchings, lithographs and woodcuts by Käthe Kollwitz at the British Museum (until 12 January) confronts us with her characteristic, and still discomfiting, lack of...

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Hilliard’s Trajectory

Charles Nicholl, 9 December 2019

The house​ was ‘at the sign of the Maidenhead’ in an alley off Cheapside called Gutter Lane. The address sounds disreputable but those who visited were not in search of bawdy...

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At the Jeu de Paume: Peter Hujar

Brian Dillon, 9 December 2019

The​ American photographer Peter Hujar once told a friend who was feeling unattractive: ‘As you’re walking along, say to yourself: I’m me.’ Hujar’s subjects seem to...

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David Trotter, 9 December 2019

In​ the original film noir, John Huston’s Maltese Falcon (1941), private investigator Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) visits criminal mastermind Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet) in his San...

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Hey, Blondie!

Jenny Turner, 9 December 2019

How cool does a woman have to be, I remember the young me thinking in the 1980s, to chuck in the sex-symbol stuff to look after her sick boyfriend, then come back as a musical-comedy pantomime dame?

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The​ Jalori Pass in Himachal Pradesh, northern India, is ten thousand feet above sea level: there was snow on the ground when I crossed it on foot in May 1982, on a trek in the Himalayas with a...

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Elton Took Me Hostage

Colm Tóibín, 9 December 2019

‘Imagine six apartments, it isn’t hard to do, one is full of fur coats, another’s full of shoes.’

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The Nolde above the sofa

Adam Tooze, 25 November 2019

The story of Emil Nolde's opposition to the Third Reich, which informed his pictures for so many viewers, is a fantasy with its own basis in nationalism.

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Pockets, like Novels

Freya Johnston, 25 November 2019

Pockets, like novels, can enclose a story about the lost and found. Just as characters in 18th-century fiction are often begged to provide the histories of their lives and adventures, so too they may be...

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Gauguin’s​ 1893 painting of Tehamana, the teenager with whom he cohabited during his first visit to Tahiti, shows her seated facing forward, yet her eyebrows no more match than the share...

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