Exhibitions

‘Breakwater’, 1994, by Sandra Blow

Sandra Blow's paintings hold their own with Sixties stars like Hockney and Riley

21 January 2017 9:00 am

In the 1940s Lucian Freud took another young painter, Sandra Blow, up to the top of a bombed church in…

‘Spiral Motif in Green, Violet, Blue and Gold: The Coast of the Inland Sea’, 1950, by Victor Pasmore

Who was the real Victor Pasmore?

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Victor Pasmore once told me how he greeted Pablo Picasso at Victoria station. The great man had come to Britain…

‘Salvador Dalí, New York’, 1947, by Irving Penn

A great ad for the optical benefits of rehab: the Elton John Collection reviewed

7 January 2017 9:00 am

‘Radical’ is like ‘creative’, a word that has been enfeebled to the point of meaninglessness. Everybody seems to want to…

‘Bed’, 1955, by Robert Rauschenberg

The first half is essential – the second much less so: Tate's Robert Rauschenberg reviewed

3 December 2016 9:00 am

Robert Rauschenberg, like Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale, was a ‘snapper-up of unconsidered trifles’. Unlike Shakespeare’s character, however, he made…

‘Scenes of the Private and Public Life of the Animals’, 1842, by J.J. Grandville

An entertaining show at Marian Goodman Gallery – where the joke’s on us

26 November 2016 9:00 am

Ernest Hemingway loved going to the zoo, but not on Sundays. The reason, he explained, was that, ‘I don’t like…

‘Shelter Scenes, Tilbury’ by Edward Ardizzone

Edward Ardizzone – the English Daumier

19 November 2016 9:00 am

It’s funny, isn’t it, how a dust jacket on a book can draw you to it from the other end…

‘The Judgement of Paris’, 1933, by William Roberts

When the world falls apart, you go back to the start: Classicism in British Art reviewed

12 November 2016 9:00 am

The catalogue to Pallant House Gallery’s latest exhibition features a favourite anecdote. It is 1924 and a competition is being…

‘The Skeleton Painter’, 1896, by James Ensor

Was James Ensor’s secret that he didn’t really have one?

5 November 2016 9:00 am

On 2 August 1933 one of the more improbable meetings of the 20th century took place when Albert Einstein had…

Models wearing the original topless bathing suit by Rudi Gernreich

Is anything vulgar anymore? I wish it were

29 October 2016 9:00 am

To use a vulgar phrase, I can’t get my head around this exhibition. It seems anything but ‘vulgar’. Daintily laid…

Visionary: ‘Battle of Germany’, 1944, by Paul Nash

Wonderfully mellow, rich and strange: Paul Nash at Tate Britain reviewed

29 October 2016 9:00 am

In 1932 Paul Nash posed the question, is it possible to ‘go modern’ and still ‘be British?’ — a conundrum…

'Landscape with a Waterfall, Second Version' (c.1625-1627)  by Hercules Segers. Etching. Photo: Rijksmuseum

The forgotten Dutch artist who was two centuries ahead of his time

29 October 2016 9:00 am

In debates about what should and should not be taught in art school, the subject of survival skills almost never…

‘Portrait of Lee Miller as l’Arlésienne’, 1937, by Pablo Picasso

Was Picasso making fun of the subjects of his portraits?

22 October 2016 9:00 am

As a chat-up line it was at least unusual. On 8 January 1927, a 46-year-old man approached a young woman…

Hollywood lighting: ‘The Taking of Christ’ (1602) by Caravaggio. Photo: The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Caravaggio blasts everything else off the walls in the National Gallery’s new show

15 October 2016 9:00 am

We don’t know what Caravaggio himself would have made of Beyond Caravaggio, the new exhibition at the National Gallery which…

Part of a horse trapper probably made for Edward III’s court. Photo: RMN-Grand Palais (Musée de Cluny — Musée National du Moyen Âge)/Franck Raux

Embroidery: the great British art form

8 October 2016 9:00 am

For much of the Middle Ages, especially from 1250–1350, ‘English work’ was enormously prized around Europe from Spain to Iceland.…

George Cruikshank’s illustration for ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens

Mutton, potatoes and ale – how children ate in the 19th century

24 September 2016 9:00 am

Modern Britain scratches its head over children who are overfed, not underfed, while guilt-ridden mothers stand accused of feeding children…

‘Carcase of an Ox’, by the circle of Rembrandt

Decomposing women, preserved nipples & putrefaction: Flesh at York Art Gallery reviewed

24 September 2016 9:00 am

For a 21st-century gallery, a Victorian collection can be an embarrassment. Tate Modern got around the problem by offloading its…

‘The Sombre Malembo, God of the Crossroads’, 1943, by Wifredo Lam

This large Tate Modern exhibition is cruel to Wifredo Lam

17 September 2016 9:00 am

‘My painting is an act of decolonisation,’ declared Wifredo Lam. These are the first words you read on entering the…

Natural high: John Sebastian’s acoustic set at Woodstock, 1969

A great retro shop with a dreary message: V&A’s You Say You Want a Revolution? reviewed

10 September 2016 9:00 am

Back in the high optimism of the 2008 presidential campaign, one of Barack Obama’s more extravagant hopes was that ‘the…

‘Todo Custo’, 2015, Caroline Achaintre

What’s the avant-garde up to? Recycling (itself) and baffling (me)

13 August 2016 9:00 am

One overcast afternoon in late July I took a train to Norfolk. It seemed a good time and place to…

‘Untitled’, c.1971, by William Eggleston

What makes William Eggleston's ordinary photographs so extraordinary?

6 August 2016 9:00 am

In 1965 William Eggleston took the first colour photograph that, he felt, really succeeded. The location was outside a supermarket…

‘Apple Blossoms’, 1873, by Charles-François Daubigny

The man who who invented impressionism

23 July 2016 9:00 am

The last boat I saw in the galleries on the Mound was a canoe that the Scottish painter Jock McFadyen…

‘New York Street with Moon’, 1925, by Georgia O’Keeffe

The over-exposure of Georgia O’Keeffe

16 July 2016 9:00 am

In 1927, Georgia O’Keeffe announced that she would like her next exhibition to be ‘so magnificently vulgar that all the…

‘The Deluge’, 1920, by Winifred Knights

Piero della Francesca meets Dalí: Winifred Knights at Dulwich Picture Gallery reviewed

9 July 2016 9:00 am

‘Hidden beauty is best (half seen), faces turned away.’ So noted a young English painter named Winifred Knights in 1924.…

Birthday card from Frank Auerbach to Lucian Freud

You can tell a lot from the paintings painters owned, as this National Gallery show proves

25 June 2016 8:00 am

‘In the end, nothing goes with anything,’ Lucian Freud remarked one afternoon years ago. ‘It’s your taste that puts things…

‘New Hoover Quik Broom, New Hoover Celebrity IV’, 1980, by Jeff Koons

Like Rubens, Jeff Koons’s work is about repetition, fertility and sex

11 June 2016 9:00 am

At one time, Damien Hirst was fond of remarking that art should deal with the Gauguin questions. Namely, ‘Where do…