Martin Gayford

‘The Haystack’, late April 1844, by William Fox Talbot

How a Liberal MP's inability to draw led him to invent photography

30 April 2016 9:00 am

William Henry Fox Talbot had many accomplishments. He was Liberal MP for Chippenham; at Cambridge he won a prize for…

Detail of mosaic depicting the martyrdom of Saints Castus and Cassius, 12th century, at the Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily

Norman Sicily was a multicultural paradise – but it didn’t last long

9 April 2016 9:00 am

There are lessons to be learned from the disintegration of this once majestic multicultural Norman kingdom, says Martin Gayford

Unchanging: Florence’s skyline and the Arno

Botticelli’s jokes and the quarrelsome, creative spirit of Florence

2 April 2016 9:00 am

Once, it seems, Sandro Botticelli played a trick on a neighbour. Next door was a weaver who possessed eight looms.…

Wooden model of a brewing and baking workshop, Egypt, c.2000 bc, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Ancient Egypt’s obsession with death was in fact a preoccupation with life

2 April 2016 9:00 am

The Fitzwilliam Museum is marking its bicentenary with an exhibition that takes its title from Agatha Christie: Death on the…

‘Wall Street, New York’, 1915, by Paul Strand

A lot of art is trickery - and all the better for it

26 March 2016 9:00 am

One day, in the autumn of 1960, a young Frenchman launched himself off a garden wall in a suburban street…

‘La Vecchia’ (c.1506) by Giorgione

RA’s Giorgione show is so rich it’s worth returning to several times

19 March 2016 9:00 am

Walter Sickert was once shown a room full of paintings by a proud collector, who had purchased them on the…

'Group IX/SUW, No. 17. The Swan, No. 17' (1914-5) by Hilma af Klint

Is this female Swedish painter a major rediscovery - or a minor footnote?

12 March 2016 9:00 am

In 1896, a group of five young Swedish women artists began to meet regularly in order to access mystical zones…

'Visions of the Hereafter' by Hieronymus Bosch

Hell made fun – the joy of Hieronymus Bosch

27 February 2016 9:00 am

The 20th-century painter who called himself Balthus once proposed that a monograph about him should begin with the words ‘Balthus…

‘Portrait of a Young Man’ by Giorgione

Renaissance master? Rascal? Thief? In search of Giorgione

13 February 2016 9:00 am

Question-marks over attribution are at the heart of a forthcoming Giorgione exhibition. Martin Gayford sifts through the evidence

‘Untitled (Oxidation Painting)’, 1978, by Andy Warhol

Warhol the traditionalist: the Ashmolean Museum show reviewed

6 February 2016 9:00 am

When asked the question ‘What is art?’, Andy Warhol gave a characteristically flip answer (‘Isn’t that a guy’s name?’). On…

‘Nympheas (Waterlilies)’, 1914–15, by Claude Monet

The link between herbaceous borders and the avant-garde

30 January 2016 9:00 am

Philip Larkin once remarked that Art Tatum, a jazz musician given to ornate, multi-noted flourishes on the keyboard, reminded him…

‘The Death of Sardanapalus’, 1846, by Eugène Delacroix

Eugene Delacroix foresaw the future of society not just art

23 January 2016 9:00 am

Delacroix’s frigid self-control concealed an emotional volcano. Martin Gayford explores the paradoxes that define the apostle of modernism

Installation shot of  Michael Craig-Martin's Serpentine exhibition 'Transience'. Photo: Jerry Hardman-Jones

Cool, beguiling, Duchampian set of still lives from Michael Craig-Martin at the Serpentine Gallery

16 January 2016 9:00 am

Michael Craig-Martin has had a paradoxical career. He is, I think, a disciple of Marcel Duchamp. But the latter famously…

Monumental change: the overthrow of the statue of Napoleon I, which was on top of the Vendôme Column. The painter Gustave Courbet is ninth from the right

A short history of statue-toppling

9 January 2016 9:00 am

Sculptural topplings provide an index of changing times, says Martin Gayford

'Lion Hunt', 1861, by Eugène Delacroix

Galleries are getting bigger - but is there enough good art to put in them?

2 January 2016 9:00 am

Martin Gayford recommends the exhibitions to see — and to avoid — over the coming year

‘The Birth of Christ’, 1896, by Paul Gauguin

Why would a dissolute rebel like Paul Gauguin paint a nativity?

12 December 2015 9:00 am

Martin Gayford investigates how this splendid Tahitian Madonna came about and why religion was ever-present in Gauguin's art

'Leslie and Clodagh Waddington' (1996) by Peter Blake

How pop is Peter Blake?

5 December 2015 9:00 am

Painters and sculptors are highly averse to being labelled. So much so that it seems fairly certain that, if asked,…

‘Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman’ or ‘The Music Lesson’, 1662–5, by Vermeer

Artistic taste is inversely proportional to political nous

28 November 2015 9:00 am

‘Wherever the British settle, wherever they colonize,’ observed the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon, ‘they carry and will ever carry trial…

‘May Day’, 1866, by Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron: the Leonardo of photography

21 November 2015 9:00 am

Ruskin dismissed Julia Margaret Cameron’s photographs as untrue. But, argues Martin Gayford, the same could be said of any picture

'Antennae with Red and Blue Dots' by Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder: the man who made abstract art fly

14 November 2015 9:00 am

One day, in October 1930, Alexander Calder visited the great abstract painter Piet Mondrian in his apartment in Paris. The…

'Contrast (Order and Chaos)' (1950) by M.C. Escher

M.C. Escher: limited, repetitive, but he deserves a place in art history

7 November 2015 9:00 am

‘Surely,’ mused the Dutch artist M.C. Escher, ‘it is a bit absurd to draw a few lines and then claim:…

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Repetitive but compelling: Giacometti at the National Portrait Gallery reviewed

24 October 2015 9:00 am

One day in 1938 Alberto Giacometti saw a marvellous sight on his bedroom ceiling. It was ‘a thread like a…

Master strokes: 'Head of William Feaver', 2003, by Frank Auerbach

With this Tate Britain exhibition, Frank Auerbach joins the masters

17 October 2015 8:00 am

No sooner had I stepped into the private view of Frank Auerbach’s exhibition at Tate Britain than I bumped into…

A novel in paint: Goya's 'The Family of the Infante Don Luís' (1783-4)

Why did Goya’s sitters put up with his brutal honesty?

10 October 2015 9:00 am

Sometimes, contrary to a widespread suspicion, critics do get it right. On 17 August, 1798 an anonymous contributor to the…

‘Dead Rabbit’, 1962, by Dennis Creffield

On the frontiers of figuration, abstraction and total immateriality

3 October 2015 8:00 am

The artist, according to Walter Sickert, ‘is he who can take a piece of flint and wring out of it…