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The New Statesman used a photo for their cover rather than a cartoon by Art Spiegelman (Credit: Art Spiegelman)

Did the New Statesman censor its censorship issue?

29 May 2015 17:02

This week’s New Statesman, guest-edited by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer, is titled ‘Saying the unsayable’. It promises to ‘address the ideas of censorship, taboos, offence and free speech’. The magazine has Stephen Fry revealing two opinions that will get him in ‘trouble’,… Continue reading

(Photo:  Franco Origlia/Getty)

Pope Francis is right to avoid television. It’s the dumbest medium known to man

27 May 2015 11:05

Unlike Pope Francis I can’t actually remember when I consciously gave up television and I have in fact watched it occasionally in other people’s houses on various occasions. But it was probably… Continue reading

Tarquin and Lucretia by Titian

‘Trigger warnings’ are tools for censorship. They have no place in academia

26 May 2015 18:02

I get defensive when feminists are accused of being prudes. There’s nothing prudish in critiquing a monotonously promiscuous culture; in despairing of unrealistic body standards, or believing, as I’ve argued before,… Continue reading

BRITAIN-ENTERTAINMENT-FILM-HOBBIT

Revealed: Stephen Fry’s brush with the law over James Rhodes injunction

24 May 2015 13:20

Last week James Rhodes won a legal battle to publish his memoir Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication and Music. This judgement came after his ex-wife took out an injunction through… Continue reading

Cornelia Parker’s War Room at the Whitworth, Manchester

What are modern museums really for?

Arts feature

On 1 July, at a swanky party at Tate Modern, one of Britain’s museums will bank a cheque for £100,000, as the Art Fund announces this year’s Museum of the Year. Sure, the money will come in handy. Sure, the… Read more

Stephen Wight as Lee and Dianna Agron as Dahlia in McQueen (Photo: Specular)

Amazing. Thatcherite propaganda at the Young Vic

Theatre

St James Theatre hosts a new play about Alexander McQueen (real name Lee), whose star flashed briefly across the fashion world before his suicide in 2010. It opens with a mysterious stalker, Dahlia, breaking into McQueen’s Mayfair home and demanding… Read more

You want a sinkhole to appear and swallow them up: Simon Pegg (Jack) and Lake Bell (Nancy)

Man Up review: a film that treats female singledom as if it were cancer

Cinema

Man Up is a British rom-com starring Simon Pegg as Jack and Lake Bell as Nancy. Nancy’s problem, at the outset, is that she is 34 and still single — has yet to ‘man up’ — and is therefore a… Read more

Grayson Perry's 'Walthamstow Tapestry' (2009)

Grayson Perry - heir to Lewis Caroll and William Blake

Exhibitions

At the Turner Prize dinner of 2003, as the winner, Grayson Perry, took a photo call with his family wearing a girlish dress and huge bow in his hair, a German contemporary artist who was sitting at the same table… Read more

Stéphanie d’Oustrac (Carmen) and Pavel Cernoch (Don José) in ‘Carmen’ at Glyndebourne

Was Glyndebourne right to revive Donizetti's Poliuto? No, says Michael Tanner

Opera

It’s been a busy operatic week, with a nearly great concert performance of Parsifal in Birmingham on Sunday (reviewed by Anna Picard in last week’s Spectator), Carmen at the Coliseum on Wednesday, Donizetti’s Poliuto at Glyndebourne on Thursday and Carmen,… Read more

Dr. 'Samuel' Johnson (Photo: Getty)

When Dr Johnson went to Tahrir Square

Radio

Goodness knows what the Great Cham would have made of Radio 4 airing an adapted version of his philosophical fable, Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, on Sunday afternoon. Perhaps he would be surprised to see it done at all: the works… Read more

Anita Dobson as Queen Elizabeth I in ‘Armada: 12 Days to Save England’

BBC2's Armada has something for everybody - including three yummy female historians

Television

It has been a while since the BBC really pushed the boat out on the epic history documentary front. Perhaps to make amends it is treating us to possibly the most historian-studded, blue-screen-special-effects-enhanced, rare-documentastic, no-hyperbole-knowingly-under-employed series ever shown on television.… Read more

Arch enemies: Euston Arch (left), torn down to make way for London’s most miserable train station (right)

Should Euston Arch be raised from the dead?

Arts feature

Yes  William Cook Rejoice! Rejoice! Fifty-four years after its destruction, Euston Arch has returned to Euston. Well, after a fashion. Four blocks from this lost portico, salvaged from a murky river bed in east London, have been deposited outside the… Read more

Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima. Photo: Fujitsuka Mitsumasa

Welcome to Japan’s best kept cultural secret: an art island with an underground museum

Arts feature

In his introductory remarks to the Afro–Eurasian Eclipse, one of his later suites for jazz orchestra, Duke Ellington remarked — this was in 1971 — that east and west were blending into one another, and everyone was in danger of… Read more

Much compared to a photocopier: Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum

Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum is very good news - for the Met

Museums

About six years ago the first section of the now celebrated High Line was opened in New York and made a palpable hit both locally and internationally. Locally it revealed what one might have guessed, that the inhabitants of Manhattan’s… Read more

Scapegoat for all of urban life’s ills: Le Corbusier, c.1950

How dedicated a fascist was Le Corbusier?

Architecture

The ‘revelations’, 50 years after he drowned, that Le Corbusier was a ‘fascist’ and an anti-Semite are neither fresh nor startling. Indeed they’re old hat. And it defies credibility that the authors of three recent books about this tainted genius… Read more

Christian Thielemann leading the Staatskapelle Dresden  (Photo: Getty)

What really happened in the Berlin Philharmonic election

Music

The morning after the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra failed to elect a music director, I took a call from Bild-Zeitung, Berlin’s most popular tabloid, seeking analysis. Later, they asked me to write a full-page op-ed. Now shut your eyes a moment… Read more

She makes Medusa look like a dinner lady: Kate Fleetwood as Tracy Lord in ‘High Society’

Fine production of a painful play: Death of a Salesman at the Noel Coward reviewed

Theatre

Here come the Yanks. As the summer jumbos disgorge their cargoes of wealthy, courteous, culture-hungry Americans, the West End prepares to bag a fortune. Death of a Salesman is just the kind of timeless post-war classic that Americans adore, isn’t… Read more

Thousands of protesters gather for an anti-war demonstration in New York, 2003

We Are Many reviewed: does anyone think this anti-Iraq War film will change anything?

Cinema

Big-screen documentaries never change the world. Blackfish has not shortened the queues to see maltreated killer whales leap through hoops at SeaWorld. Super Size Me reduced neither the all-American waistline nor the profit margin of McDonald’s. The Cove did not… Read more

Peter Pan (Photo: Clive Barda)

Half-brilliant, half-bewildering: Peter Pan at Welsh National Opera reviewed

Opera

In Beryl Bainbridge’s novel An Awfully Big Adventure the producer Meredith Potter issues a doughty injunction on the subject of staging Peter Pan: ‘I am not qualified to judge whether the grief his mother felt on the death of his… Read more

The Royal Ballet: Woolf Works (Photo: Tristram Kenton)

Rapture - and loathing: Woolf Works at the Royal Ballet reviewed

Dance

People have been saying that Wayne McGregor’s new Woolf Works has reinvented the three-act ballet, but not so. William Forsythe reinvented the three-act ballet 20 years ago with Eidos: Telos, a mesmerising masterpiece that I found myself recalling as I… Read more

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, BBC1

A bit silly: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell reviewed

Television

BBC One’s 2015 choice of Sunday-night drama series is beginning to resemble the career of the kind of Hollywood actor who alternates between reliable crowd-pleasers and more eccentric personal projects. The year started with the return of the much-loved Last… Read more

Prof. Sunil Khilnani (Photo: Getty)

The history of India in 50 personalities

Radio

The idea of using objects — salt, cod, nutmeg, silk — to turn history lessons into something popular and accessible has been around for at least a generation. It’s a great way to avoid complicated chronologies and the need to… Read more

One of Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s Scots pines in the French Pavilion

Martin Gayford finds a few nice paintings amid the dead trees, old clothes and agitprop of the Venice Biennale

Arts feature

At the start of Canto XXI of the ‘Inferno’, Dante and Virgil look down on the pit of Malebolge, the Eighth Circle of Hell, in which sinners guilty of simony, hypocrisy and graft are punished. The last of those spend… Read more

Jackie Mason at the Hollywood Palace in 1964: ‘A good comedian must tell the truth’

Jackie Mason reveals the secret of stand-up: avoid fried food

Arts feature

A lot of people ask what it takes to be a stand-up comic — I’ll be honest, I have absolutely no idea. What I do know is that whatever it is, a lot of people love to think they’ve either… Read more

Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance (Photo: Tristram Kenton)

Do you see me laughing? Mike Leigh’s Pirates of Penzance at the ENO reviewed

Opera

Forget the pollsters and political pundits — English National Opera called it first and called it Right when it programmed Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance to open just days after the general election. Who else is the target… Read more

Seeking a berth in Valhalla: Nicholas Hoult as Nux in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Mad Max: Fury Road reviewed - your inner 12-year-old will be in heaven

Cinema

No one goes slack-jawed in wonder at the movies any more. In our cyber-enabled times, kid designers can mega-pixelate any old apocalypse on to the screen of your local Imax. It puts the new Mad Max in a strange relationship… Read more

The Angry Brigade

Merchant of Venice at the Globe reviewed: a tip-top production - and a high quality script too

Theatre

If Julian, Dick, George and Anne had become terrorists they’d have called themselves The Angry Brigade. It’s such a Wendy house name. The quartet of violent outcasts met in a Camden squat in the late Sixties and moved to Stoke… Read more

Spirited, indomitable and proud: matriarch Julie Young

Benefits Street reviewed: if anyone’s being exploited, it’s the taxpayers, says James Delingpole

Television

My favourite scene in the first episode of the new series of Benefits Street (Mondays, Channel 4) — now relocated to a housing estate in the north-east, but otherwise pretty much unchanged — was the one where the street’s resident… Read more

(Photo: Getty)

What happened to the children who survived the Holocaust?

Radio

‘I call Zelma Cacik who may be living in London,’ says the announcer, in the clipped RP accent of the BBC in the 1940s. ‘I call her on behalf of her 16-year-old cousin…’ The voice betrays no emotion, no feeling,… Read more

heckler

The Heckler: Shakespeare's duds should be struck from the canon

The Heckler

I love Shakespeare. But when he pulls on his wellies and hikes into the forest I yearn for the exit. A Midsummer Night’s Dream has a moonlit, sylvan location populated by a syrupy crew of hectic fairies, humourless bumpkins, panting… Read more

Titanic: Orson Welles as Falstaff in ‘Chimes at Midnight’ (1966)

Don’t believe Orson Welles, says his biographer Simon Callow — especially when he calls himself a failure

Arts feature

Orson Welles would have been 100 this month. When he died in 1985, aged 70, the wonder was that he had lasted so long. His bulk was so immense, his productivity so prodigious in so many areas, his temperament so… Read more

‘Claros’ (woodcut), 2015, by Gillian Ayres

Modernism lite? Modigliani at the Estorick Collection reviewed

Exhibitions

The British painter Nina Hamnett recalled that Modigliani had a very large, very untidy studio. Dangling from the end of his bed was a web inhabited by an enormous spider. ‘He explained that he could not make the bed as… Read more