×

Arts feature

‘Hat Stand’, 1969, one of a group of three sculptures that caused controversy early on in the artist’s career

The pop artist whose transgressions went too far – for the PC art world

Arts feature

Allen Jones (born 1937) has been demonised. In 1969 he made a group of three sculptures of scantily-clad female figures. They were slightly larger than life and arranged in positions that enabled them (with the addition of a glass top… Read more

Left: The Apostle Simon, 1661. Right: Portrait of a Lady with an Ostrich-Feather Fan, 1658–60

Rembrandt at the National Gallery: the greatest show on earth

Arts feature

At the opening of Rembrandt: The Late Works at the National Gallery (until 18 January), I met a painter friend of mine in the final room. This was, he said, one of the most magnificent exhibitions he had seen in… Read more

Plisetskaya in ‘Romeo and Juliet’, 1964. She was one of the supreme trophies in the Soviet display case, the most garlanded, the most suspected

Maya Plisetskaya and Rodion Shchedrin: ‘The KGB put a microphone in our marriage bed'

Arts feature

‘People in the West don’t understand nothing. Even the new Russian generation don’t understand anything at all. You don’t know, and it’s better you don’t.’ Maya Plisetskaya scrutinises me with her beautiful, kohl-rimmed, 88-year-old eyes, a gaze made wary in… Read more

Frieze Art Fair - VIP Preview

Frieze Art Fair: where great refinement meets harrowing vulgarity

Arts feature

If you wanted to find a middle-aged man in a bright orange suit, matching tie and sneakers, Frieze is a good place to start looking. I found one. Or maybe he was a limited edition existing in several reproductions. Certainly,… Read more

Timothy Spall as the eponymous painter in Mike Leigh’s new film ‘Mr Turner’

Mike Leigh interview: 'A guy in the Guardian wants to sue me for defamation of Ruskin!'

Arts feature

Mike Leigh is in a cheerfully bullish mood when I meet him at the Soho Hotel. ‘Have you read today’s Guardian?’ Dammit — I should have seen that coming. ‘A guy in G2 would like to sue me for defamation… Read more

Brian Blessed as Prince Vultan and Sam J. Jones as Flash in ‘Flash Gordon’, part of the BFI ‘Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder’ season

Without sci-fi, there would be no cinema

Arts feature

Do you know what’s hateful? The snobbery that film fans have to contend with. There’s the ‘it’s only a movie’ snobbery, by which cinema is suitable only for wastrels and dogs. And there’s the ‘if it ain’t Danish and silent,… Read more

Space odyssey: Ed White walking in space over New Mexico, Gemini 4, June 1965 Image: James McDivitt

The images from the Apollo missions will reduce you to tears

Arts feature

When people ask why I’m obsessed with the Apollo moon missions, I always want to reply using the same phrase: ‘Because they were out of this world.’ I never do, because it happens to sound like a very bad joke.… Read more

Composer Franz Schubert at work Photo: Getty

My Schubert marathon

Arts feature

On 10 October, the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford will host the first concert in ‘the biggest ever celebration of the life and work of Franz Schubert’. Over three weeks, all 650 songs (or thereabouts) will be performed, most of them… Read more

Julius Shulman: Case Study House #22, 1959 (architect: Pierre Koenig)

The camera always lies

Arts feature

Everyone knows about architecture being frozen music. The source of that conceit may be debated, but its validity is timeless and certain. For all its weightiness, architecture plays with ethereal proportion, harmony, resonance and delight: the stuff of music. But… Read more

‘14.11.65’ by John Hoyland

Is John Hoyland the new Turner?

Arts feature

What happens to an artist’s reputation when he dies? Traditionally, there was a period of cooling off when the reputation, established during a lifetime, lost momentum and frequently collapsed, quite often presaging a long fallow period before reassessment could take… Read more

‘Interior (Innenraum)’, 1981, by Anselm Kiefer

'I like vanished things': Anselm Kiefer on art, alchemy and his childhood

Arts feature

At the entrance to Anselm Kiefer’s forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy visitors will encounter a typically paradoxical Kiefer object: a giant pile of lead books, sprouting wings. When I asked Kiefer to explain this strange object, he immediately —… Read more

‘Portrait of Andrea Quaratesi’, c.1532, by Michelangelo

Michelangelo had a bigger vision than Shakespeare – and the ego to match

Arts feature

It is 450 years since the birth of William Shakespeare. The anniversary has been hard to avoid in this country, which is entirely appropriate. Shakespeare helped to shape not only our language but also our conception of character and our… Read more

Ellie Harrison’s cannons — poised to usher in a ‘Socialist Republic of Scotland’

How independence will impoverish Scottish culture

Arts feature

An explosion of confetti will greet the announcement of Scottish independence. This isn’t another one of Alex Salmond’s fanciful promises, but an installation by a visual artist named Ellie Harrison. She wants Scotland to become a socialist republic. She has… Read more

‘Self-portrait’, c.1513, by Leonardo da Vinci

Pizza, choc-ice and Leonardos – the treasures of Turin

Arts feature

To most non-Italians Turin spells Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Fiat). But this subalpine city has a longer history than the internal combustion engine. It may be twinned with Detroit, but its cavalcade of equestrian monuments testifies to an older sort… Read more

Herculean feat: hauling a steamship over a mountain for ‘Fitzcarraldo’

The enigma of Werner Herzog

Arts feature

Strange things happen to Werner Herzog — almost as strange as the things that happen in his haunting, hypnotic films. In 1971, while making a movie in Peru, he was bumped off a flight that subsequently crashed into the jungle.… Read more

edinburghfinal-copy

Alex Salmond has already lost — if the Edinburgh Festival is anything to go by

Arts feature

Scotland’s on a knife-edge. Like all referendum-watchers at the Edinburgh Festival I grabbed a ticket for The Pitiless Storm, a drama about independence, which attracts big crowds every lunchtime at the Assembly Rooms. The play draws its inspiration from the… Read more

Shinkansen: one of the most powerful symbols of modern Japan

My addiction to the bullet train

Arts feature

In 1963, Dr Richard Beeching, an ICI director with a PhD in physics, a qualification that clearly boondoggled his credulous political patrons, published a government report called ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’. It identified 8,000km of painstakingly created track for… Read more

Wynton Marsalis: ‘The pressure of playing in public makes it all for real’

'They took me in like I was their son': Wynton Marsalis on jazz's great tradition

Arts feature

At the end of his performance at the Barbican with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis made a little speech. The next piece, he announced, was a number that Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers used to play. Marsalis then… Read more

home-front

Home Front: Radio 4's first world war drama will fight out the full four years

Arts feature

In a studio in Birmingham, there’s an air of excitement. Jessica Dromgoole and her team are recording new scenes for Home Front, Radio 4’s specially commissioned drama commemorating the first world war. They know that they’re about to launch on… Read more

© simon fowler/decca

I think I’ve found the new Maria Callas

Arts feature

Some of my most enjoyable evenings, when I reviewed opera weekly for The Spectator, were spent at the Royal College of Music, in the tiny but elegant and comfortable Britten Theatre. The performers, onstage and in the pit, are mostly… Read more

Neville Marriner: still going strong at the age of 90

How conductors keep getting better at 90

Arts feature

‘It’s a bad week. I gather we’ve lost one.’ Sir Neville Marriner, himself a huge name, is talking about the death of one of the world’s top conductors. Lorin Maazel, who died at home in Virginia at the age of… Read more

Natalia Osipova in the Royal Ballet’s ‘Connectome’, choreographed by Alastair Marriott

Natalia Osipova interview: ‘I'm not interested in diamond tiaras on stage’

Arts feature

‘I am not interested in sporting diamond tiaras on stage, or having my point shoes cooked and eaten by my fans,’ muses Natalia Osipova, referring to two old ballet anecdotes. ‘Ballet has evolved and the ballerina figure with it. The… Read more

‘The Goldfinch’, 1654, by Carel Fabritius

The home of Holland’s celebrity paintings gets a makeover

Arts feature

If things had turned out differently for Brazil — I don’t mean in the World Cup — Recife might now be known as Mauritsstad. But when the Portuguese expelled the Dutch in 1654, the name of the new capital of… Read more

Producers2

Indiscretions from two veteran producers

Arts feature

Stars, playwrights and even set designers are constantly being lionised in the papers. But why not producers? They, after all, are the ones who choose the plays, the stars, and then make it all happen. Duncan Weldon and Paul Elliott… Read more

Characters from ‘Inside Stories’ by Quentin Blake

'I would find myself forging my own work': Quentin Blake on how he came to found the House of Illustration

Arts feature

The illustrator Quentin Blake is uncannily like one of his own creations: tousled, bright-eyed, quizzical, and apologetic about his summer cold. He greeted me warmly and conducted me down a dimly lit hallway into his lair, a studio giving on… Read more

John-Bishop

John Bishop interview: ‘My dream was to be Steven Gerrard, but he got there first’

Arts feature

John Bishop doesn’t just tell funny stories. He also tells the sort of life story that makes you sit up and listen. He grew up on a council estate outside Liverpool and, at the age of six, visited his father… Read more

Alex Jennings: still experimenting with the Wonka character

Alex Jennings interview: the new Willy Wonka on Roald Dahl’s ‘child killer’

Arts feature

‘Oompa Loompa juice,’ says the actor Alex Jennings when I ask if he takes any supplements to preserve his looks. He’s 57 but could pass for a decade younger. We meet backstage in his Drury Lane suite, which boasts a… Read more

Le Corbusier’s design for the Maison Dom-ino of 1914, built for the first time, in front of the Central Pavilion at the Biennale Gardens, by a team from the Architectural Association in London

Modernism's dreams – and nightmares – at the Venice Architectural Biennale

Arts feature

An eccentric English aristocrat who constructed a 20-mile network of underground corridors to avoid coming into contact with his fellow humans on his country estate; a Japanese dentist who has amassed an enormous collection of decorative details from buildings spanning… Read more