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William Cook rss

New old city: Dresden

Notes on… Eastern Germany

26 April 2014

Ever since the Berlin Wall came down, I’ve been pottering around eastern Germany, where my father’s family came from, and fled from at the end of the second world war.… Read more

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Today Crimea, tomorrow Estonia?

8 March 2014

 Tallinn, Monday  ‘I have some sad news,’ says the Estonian politician, as we sit down to dinner. ‘War has broken out.’ The pain in his voice is palpable. For this… Read more

‘French Window’ video still, 1973, by Ian Emes, whose show opens in April

The Ikon Gallery's greatest hits

1 March 2014
Ikon Icons Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

In a crowded storeroom at Ikon, Birmingham’s contemporary art gallery, its director Jonathan Watkins is unwrapping the pictures for his latest show. His excitement is infectious. He’s like a big… Read more

Capital asset: Riga’s 2014 programme reaffirms its cosmopolitan credentials

Is it a good idea to splash money on European cities of culture?

8 February 2014

As you enter the old KGB building, at the end of Freedom Street, the first thing that hits you is the cold. Outside it’s below freezing. Inside it’s even colder.… Read more

‘Life in the Alps (Triptych)’, 1917–19, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

The best thing to come out of Davos

18 January 2014

Another new year and once again the world’s leading CEOs and politicians descend on Davos, transforming this little Alpine town into the world’s most (self-) important talking shop. Yet there’s… Read more

David-Chipperfield

Interview David Chipperfield: It is better to be fond of architecture than amazed by it

7 December 2013

For a man who’s about to celebrate his 60th birthday, Sir David Chipperfield looks remarkably fresh-faced. His pale blue eyes are bright and piercing, his thick white hair is cut… Read more

watches

Minimalist watches for simpler times

30 November 2013

The first time I saw an Ochs und Junior watch was on the wrist of my Swiss friend Fabian. It was unlike any wristwatch I’d ever seen. Bold but understated,… Read more

Tangier

Tangier: Hidden treasure

16 November 2013

‘I remember you from last time,’ said the young man on the promenade. It was my first night back in Tangier. I was alone and tired and lonely. I liked… Read more

Slow-Train-to-Switzerland

Slow Train to Switzerland, by Diccon Bewes - review

9 November 2013

In 1863, the pioneering travel agent Thomas Cook took a group of British tourists on the first package holiday to Switzerland. One of them, a jolly young woman called Jemima… Read more

The tourist version: Grote Markt lit for Christmas

Notes on … Christmas shopping in Bruges

2 November 2013

Most Belgians of my acquaintance tend to be rather disparaging about Bruges. It’s a theme park, they say, a Flemish Disneyland. Antwerp is livelier, Ghent is more authentic. A lot… Read more

London Transport Museum’s exhibition ‘Poster Art 150 — London Underground’s Greatest Designs’ runs until 5 January 2014. On display in Covent Garden are 150 posters chosen from the museum’s archive, which includes Dora M. Batty’s ‘There is still the country’, 1926

The false paradise of Metroland

5 October 2013

Gaily into Ruislip Gardens runs the red electric train… Near the end of the Metropolitan Line, where London dwindles into woods and meadows, stands a Tudor manor house, built within… Read more

The work of Henry van de Velde: Vase, 1902; fabric sample, c. 1908; and workbench, 1902

Henry van de Velde — the man who invented modernism

28 September 2013
Henry van de Velde — Passion, Function, Beauty Cinquantenaire Museum, Brussels

In the Musée du Cinquantenaire, a grand gallery on the green edge of Brussels, those bureaucratic Belgians are welcoming home a prodigal son. Henry van de Velde — Passion, Function,… Read more

Yorkshire Sculpture Park: the 500-acre site is a great artwork in its own right

Yorkshire: England’s sculptural heartland in the north

21 September 2013

I am standing on the deserted shop floor of a Victorian mill in Wakefield, with the industrial history of Yorkshire spread out before me like a map. Down below, the… Read more

Each little valley seems like a separate world

Notes on…Walking in the Lake District

27 July 2013

What is it about the Lake District? The weather is often filthy, the locals are famously surly (‘sup up and sod off’ reads the sign above the bar) and its… Read more

La Maison Blanche: the house Le Corbusier built as a present for his parents

Le Corbusier was ashamed of the house he built

1 June 2013

On the outskirts of La Chaux-de-Fonds, an industrial town in the Swiss Jura, stands one of the most beautiful houses I’ve seen. Elegant and understated, La Maison Blanche is the… Read more

Treasure trove of contemporary art includes ‘Brighthelmstone’ by Jehane Boden Spiers

Artists Open Houses: Brighton’s alternative to gallery going

4 May 2013

I’m standing in a palatial flat in one of the most beautiful squares in Brighton, in a huge whitewashed room flooded with natural light. The lucky man who lives here,… Read more

Eric_And_Ernie

The man behind Eric and Ernie

9 March 2013

It takes a special sort of talent to turn a good act into a great one, and without John Ammonds, who died last month, aged 88, it’s quite possible that… Read more

‘Moi et le village’, 1911, by Marc Chagall

Wandering eye

2 March 2013
Chagall — Modern Master Kunsthaus Zürich

‘When Matisse dies,’ declared Picasso, ‘Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.’ Wandering around this splendid show you can see exactly what he meant.… Read more

Good_life

Richard Briers, Thatcherite hero

23 February 2013

Of course there was far more to Richard Briers’s career than a single sitcom. Briers, who died this week aged 79, was an all-rounder, acting in countless films and plays,… Read more

'Woman with Crossed Arms' by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, at Wightwick Manor

At home with the Pre-Raphaelites

15 September 2012
Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde Wightwick Manor and Gardens, Wolverhampton

Andrew Lloyd Webber cried when he first came to Wightwick Manor, and standing in the Great Parlour of this magnificent Victorian villa you can see what moved him to tears… Read more

Interior of Birmingham Library, which will open next September

Second city blues

1 September 2012

Why are clever-clever people so rude about Birmingham? Bruce Chatwin dismissed his hometown as absolutely hideous, Kenneth Tynan called his birthplace a cemetery without walls. Britain’s second city has always… Read more

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Art and soul

16 June 2012

Imagine you had £20 million to spare, burning a big hole in your pocket. What would you spend it on? You could buy a stately home or a private jet,… Read more

From Prussia with love

26 May 2012

In a baroque palace in Potsdam, on the leafy outskirts of Berlin, those industrious Germans are throwing a spectacular birthday party. The Neues Palais is a flamboyant folly, built by… Read more

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On the waterfront

28 April 2012

William Cook says that I.M. Pei’s latest building, Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art, once again captures the spirit of the age Standing outside Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art, in Doha,… Read more

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At home with Rubens

10 March 2012

William Cook believes that the British cannot really understand the artist until they’ve been to Antwerp In a quiet corner of Tate Britain there is a little exhibition that sheds… Read more