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David Cronenberg’s Map to the Stars: threesomes, incest, a dead dog and whiny farts

1 October 2014 16:41

In a scene that sticks from Map to the Stars, David Cronenberg’s Grand Guignol of a Hollywood satire, Julianne Moore, playing an ageing Hollywood never-has-been, sits on the loo in front of her PA, expelling tired whiny farts from her… Continue reading

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Why I love this feminist who hit nuns and shot Andy Warhol

29 September 2014 15:44

Just as I was feeling frustrated about the lack of robust books on feminism I spot a real corker: Valerie Solanas: The Defiant Life of the Woman Who Wrote SCUM… Continue reading

"William Archibald Spooner Vanity Fair 1898-04-21" by Leslie Ward - Published in Vanity Fair, 21 April 1898, as "Men of the Day" Number 711.Downloaded from http://www.antiquemapsandprints.com/scansj/j-20476.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Spectator competition: when prose and poetry meet (plus: verse in the manner of Revd W.A. Spooner)

27 September 2014 9:30

The challenge to pick a well-known poem and write a short story with the same title using the poem’s opening and closing lines to begin and end the piece drew… Continue reading

Akram Khan and Sylvie Guillem in 'Sacred Monsters'. Photo:  Sadler's Wells

We have a new dance critic – and she’s not happy with The Arts Council

26 September 2014 14:51

Hello. I recognize some of you. We’ve bumped against each other in Sadler’s Wells or Covent Garden or the Birmingham Hippodrome. I look forward to meeting you below the line… Continue reading

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

‘Rain, Steam and Speed — The Great Western Railway’, 1844, by J.M.W. Turner

Tate Britain’s Turner show reveals an old master - though the Spectator didn’t think so at the time

Exhibitions

Juvenilia is the work produced during an artist’s youth. It would seem logical to think, therefore, that an artist’s output during their old age would be classified as ‘senilia’. Yet no such word exists. But how else to classify the… 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

Quiet nobility: David Kempster as William Tell

Robo-Tell hits Welsh National Opera

Opera

Is there a fundamental, insuperable problem with staging Rossini’s Guillaume Tell on a budget, without the resources to conjure up the sense of scale that was part of grand opéra’s appeal and raison d’être? Take away the special effects, whip… Read more

Rosamund Pike and family (L-R) Harriet Turnbull, Emilia Jones and Bobby Smalldridge

Outnumbered: The Movie (But Crap)

Cinema

What We Did On Our Holiday is written and directed by Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton, the pair who created the hit BBC sitcom Outnumbered, and this is like an extended episode of Outnumbered minus anything that made it good… Read more

‘Modern Family’, 2014, byEd Fornieles,at Chisenhale Gallery

‘Likes’, lacquered cherry pies and Anselm Kiefer: the weird world of post-internet art

Exhibitions

In the mid-1990s the art world got excited about internet art (or ‘net.art’, as those involved styled it). This new way of making art would harness the world wide web, take the form of exciting online projects, bypass traditional galleries… Read more

Portrait of a couple as Isaac and Rebecca, known as ‘The Jewish Bride’, c.1665, by Rembrandt

Why everyone loves Rembrandt

Exhibitions

Talking of Rembrandt’s ‘The Jewish Bride’ to a friend, Vincent van Gogh went — characteristically — over the top. ‘I should be happy to give ten years of my life,’ he exclaimed, ‘if I could go on sitting here in… Read more

Doctor Scroggy’s War (Photo: Mark Douet)

Charles III is made for numbskulls by numbskulls

Theatre

Suppose Charles were to reign as a meddlesome, self-pitying, indecisive plonker. It’s a thought. It’s now a play, too, by Mike Bartlett. In his opening scene he bumps off Lilibet, bungs her in a box and assembles the family at… Read more

TV

Marriage and foreplay Sharia-style

Television

Needless to say, it’s not uncommon to hear single British women in their thirties and forties saying that all the good men are married. But in The Men with Many Wives (Channel 4, Wednesday) this came with a twist: it… 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

‘Moonrise and Pale Dancer’ by Derek Hyatt

The man who brought Cubism to New York

Exhibitions

The American Jewish artist Max Weber (1881–1961) was born in Belostok in Russia (now Bialystok in Poland), and although he visited this country twice (he came to London in 1906 and 1908), it was the experience of continental Europe —… Read more

church-organist-playing-up-a-storm

Wedding music lives or dies at the hands of the organist

Music

A few weeks ago I was at the perfect wedding. My young friend Will Heaven, a comment editor at the Telegraph, married the beautiful Lida Mirzaii, his girlfriend since university. The service was in Wardour Chapel in Wiltshire, a neoclassical… Read more

The Play That Goes Wrong. Photo: Alastair Muir

If you have teenage boys who loathe the very idea of theatre, send them to The Play That Goes Wrong

Theatre

It’s taken a while but here it is. The Play That Goes Wrong is like Noises Off, but simpler. Michael Frayn’s cumbersome backstage farce asked us to follow the actors’ personal stories as well as their on-stage foul-ups, and the… Read more

Eloquent: Allan Clayton as Cassio in Otello

Is Anna Nicole’s absurd life worth our while? Not as much as Otello’s

Opera

So how did London’s two big opera companies launch their new seasons last week? Not perhaps in the way you might expect. Decked with pink balloons and the acrid smell of popcorn, the Royal Opera House waved the garish contemporary… Read more

Cinema

20,000 Days On Earth: is Nick Cave the missing link? Or the next stage in evolution?

Cinema

Inspired by Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never (2011), Katy Perry’s Part of Me (2012) and One Direction’s This Is Us (2013), Nick Cave has released a documentary about himself. No doubt he wanted to prove that this old dog has… Read more

Radio

The sofa that became a work of art

Radio

Last week on Front Row (Radio 4) the singer Joyce DiDonato recalled the advice she gave the new graduates of the Juilliard School, just about to embark on their professional careers in music. It’s a hard life. They’re asked to… Read more

Status Quo. Photo: BBC

I love that people assume I’m gay

Television

At a birthday dinner over the weekend I was introduced to this delightful party girl of a certain age whose diet for the evening consisted of chips and Grey Goose vodka on the rocks with lime. She launched straight into… 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

‘A Battery Shelled’, 1919, by Percy Wyndham Lewis

The Imperial War Museum finds a deadly place to display first world war masterpieces

Exhibitions

The Imperial War Museum has reopened after a major refit and looks pretty dapper, even though it was overrun by hordes when I visited (it was still the school holidays). There’s a new and effective restaurant, inevitably, but also a… Read more

Kate Bush at her family home, 1978 Photo: Getty

The secret to a long and happy pop career? Don’t die

Music

As everybody in the world except me seems to have seen Kate Bush’s live shows — against all apparent arithmetical sense — these have been gloomy weeks in the primary Berkmann residence. Even the mother of my children managed to… Read more

Lucia di Lammermoor, Winslow Hall Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

Michael Tanner: Why I prefer Donizetti to Strauss

Opera

Three operas this week, each of them named after its (anti-)heroine: one of the heroines (the most sympathetic) murders her husband, one of them spends her time successfully plotting the deaths of her mother and stepfather, one insists on the… Read more

Gabriel Quigley (Fiona) in Spoiling by John McCann.

Can the Scots really be as small-minded, mistrustful and chippy as Spoiling suggests?

Theatre

Referendum fever reaches Stratford East. Spoiling, by John McCann, takes us into the corridors of power in Holyrood shortly after a triumphant Yes vote. We meet a foul-mouthed bruiser named Fiona whose strident views and vivid language have propelled her… Read more

Whoop! The 1985 Gay Pride march through central London

Ignore the simplistic politics, Pride will make you laugh and cry

Cinema

1984 and all that. Which side were you on? The side of Margaret Thatcher, her hairdo and person standing rigid against a rising tide of industrial activism and British declinism? Or the side of the miners, socking it to the… Read more

Andy Warhol, Time Capsule 262 Photo: courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

Warhol’s ‘time capsules’ contain everything from toenails to previously unseen paintings worth millions

Radio

‘I don’t know what I think,’ says Lenny Henry, echoing what many of us who were listening were probably also puzzling over. ‘Part of me thinks it’s art by the sheer fact that an artist has decided that something like… Read more

Asking the questions: Victoria Coren Mitchell

Now for the really tricky question: can Only Connect survive BBC2?

Television

For some of us, the biggest TV question of recent weeks hasn’t been how Newsnight is doing without Jeremy Paxman, British drama’s fightback against American competition or even the treatment of Diana Beard by the editors of The Great British… 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

Still Life with Carrots (c. 1921) by Duncan Grant

The Bloomsbury painters bore me

Exhibitions

Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) claimed that nothing has really happened until it has been recorded, so this new exhibition at the NPG devoted to her life can only now be said to have happened — for here I am recording it.… Read more