Arts & Culture


Michael Wood

17 June 2021

OusmaneSembène’s Mandabi (1968), now available in a restored print, was the first full-length feature film whose characters speak an African language. Small bits of French...

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Four Moptop Yobbos

Ian Penman

17 June 2021

The rubble had been cleared away, but strange grasses and wild herbs had sprung up where the war-demolished houses had been.Muriel Spark, A Far Cry from KensingtonOn​ the opening page of Craig Brown’s . . .

Eileen Agar

Francesca Wade

17 June 2021

The​ Whitechapel’s ground-floor gallery is full of heads, not all of them with faces. At the entrance to this retrospective – her largest to date, showing until 29 August – sharp-bobbed . . .

Matthew​ Barney

Freddie Mason

17 June 2021

Matthew​ Barney is back. It’s been ten years since his last exhibition in London, and his new show at the Hayward opens with an unapologetic display of phallocentrism. It’s a commitment . . .

Howard Hodgkin

Rye Dag Holmboe

3 June 2021

Each​ time I walk into Howard Hodgkin’s studio it takes a few seconds for my eyes to get used to the light. The white walls and translucent glass ceiling give the studio the same ‘glancing . . .

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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How peculiar it is: Gorey’s Glories

Rosemary Hill, 3 June 2021

Edward Gorey’s imagery is in debt to the Surrealists, and, at times, in its use of line, to Aubrey Beardsley, but insofar as Gorey belongs to a genre it is the Romantic picturesque with its mood...

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Coloured marble can be veined, streaked, clouded, mottled, or it could be a breccia – that is, with irregular, sometimes jagged, inclusions. The Mount Athos enkolpion is of breccia corallina. The...

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At the Movies: ‘Nomadland’

Michael Wood, 20 May 2021

The​ first thing that dies in Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland (which will be in cinemas from 17 May) is a town called Empire, in Nevada. The life-supporting sheetrock plant shuts down, the...

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At the V&A: ‘Bags: Inside Out’

Susannah Clapp, 20 May 2021

The quickest way to signal middle-aged female distress on stage is to show a woman rummaging frantically in a bag. Irritating though this is, there is some truth in it. Losing something in your bag is...

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At the Half

Andrew O’Hagan, 20 May 2021

Mark Rylance’s gaze suggests he’s an actor who, at the half, is more than halfway into character, already unto the breach, where ‘all the youth of England are on fire.’ There are...

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Mon cher Monsieur: Prove your Frenchness

Julian Barnes, 22 April 2021

In the 1930s many of the elite Jewish families donated their houses and collect­ions to the French state. It was as if they were saying: we are French, and we leave our greatest treas­ures to France....

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Drama of the Gowns

Lisa Cohen, 22 April 2021

Claire Wilcox becomes ‘absorbed in the fabrics and the stitching and embroidery, respectful of the drama of the gowns, the mastery of soft leather, the button-holing and the beading’. Patch...

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Shaka King’s​ Judas 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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This world of pattern and texture, which Tom Harris spent his career tracing, is as natural to humans as it is to plants. We can find it by rubbing our eyes, in the phosphenes flashing against our eyelids,...

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Yeah, that was cool: ‘Rave’

Harry Strawson, 1 April 2021

Rainald Goetz isn’t much interested in telling tales of hedonistic excess. He’s not above name­dropping, showing off about the DJs he was friends with and the cool clubs he went to, but...

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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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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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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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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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