Art

A young family plan their time in Margate, 1955

Margate's return to Dreamland

13 June 2015

Arrive at Margate on the new high-speed train linking the international glitter of St Pancras to this distant stretch of the South Coast, and before you’ve even glimpsed the sea… Read more

A Frank Gehry building at Paddy McKillen’s architectural theme park in Provence

Bored of collecting art? Try architecture

13 June 2015

The very rich are more competitive than you and me. It’s what made them very rich in the first place. At a smart wedding in Paris, thinking myself impressively cosmopolitan, I… Read more

Catherine Lampert, 1986

Frank Auerbach: frightened of heights, dogs, driving, swimming — but finding courage through painting

6 June 2015
Frank Auerbach: Speaking and Painting Catherine Lampert

Thames & Hudson, pp.240, £19.95, ISBN: 9780500239254

With a career of more than 60 years so far, Frank Auerbach is undoubtedly one of the big beasts of the British art world. His personal reticence, however, and the… Read more

ThinkstockPhotos-179057833

My part in a masterpiece of political correctness

9 May 2015

Damien Hirst, Grayson Perry, James Delingpole: all winners of major art prizes. I was awarded mine last week by Anglia Ruskin University (formerly Anglia Polytechnic) which I think is a… Read more

Forces of nature: Maggi Hambling with ‘Amy Winehouse’, a painting exhibited at her Walls of Water show last year

‘This stuff goes on being alive’: Maggi Hambling on the power of painting

18 April 2015

Maggi Hambling is 70 later this year, and a career that took off when she was appointed the first artist in residence at the National Gallery, in 1980, shows no… Read more

Møns Klint as painted by Claudia Massie

‘Was the baby naughty?’: Gory frescoes, spectacular cliffs and herring with a toddler in Denmark

18 April 2015

The sky over the island of Møn, which is at the bottom right of Denmark, was cobalt and the whitewashed walls of the Elmelunde church dazzled in the bright sunshine… Read more

Matisse trumps Picasso Photo: Getty

Andrew Marr

11 April 2015

So far, what an infuriating election campaign. We have the most extraordinary array of digital, paper and broadcasting media at our fingertips — excellent political columnists, shrewd and experienced number-crunchers,… Read more

Let there be light: Saint Peter’s at dawn

Rise early to see the Vatican at its best

28 March 2015

The sun has only just risen in Rome and we are standing bleary-eyed in a short queue outside the Vatican. Our guide, Tonia, takes us through security, and within minutes… Read more

Manet would recognise it: the Jardin des Tuileries

Seeing Paris through Impressionist eyes

14 March 2015

The spectre of the Charlie Hebdo killings still hangs over Paris. Outside the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, opposite the Louvre, there’s a big poster of Cabu, one of the… Read more

‘Ash tree in Winter, 2010–13

Patrick George: painting in all weathers in his nineties

17 January 2015
Patrick George Andrew Lambirth

Sansom & Co, pp.176, £30, ISBN: 9781908326478

‘If I see something I like I wish to tell someone else; this… is why I paint.’ Patrick George is 91, still painting ‘some of the best work he’s ever… Read more

Dallas’s art deco Fair Park

Dallas, city of culture

3 January 2015

When George W. Bush was outed as an artist, after a computer hacker uncovered his nude self-portraits, jaws dropped around the world. Could Cowboy George, a man whom even Kim… Read more

Jacques-Louis David, emboldened by Madame Vigée Le Brun, included a smiling display of teeth in his portrait of Madame de Sériziat (1795)

How the smile came to Paris (briefly)

13 December 2014
The Smile Revolution in 18th-century Paris Colin Jones

OUP, pp.256, £22.99, ISBN: 9780198715818

In 1787 critics of the Paris Salon were scandalised by a painting exhibited by Mme Vigée Le Brun. The subject was conventional enough: a self-portrait of the artist cradling her… Read more

Martha Graham and Bertram Ross in Graham’s most famous work ‘Appalachian Spring’ (1944), with a prize-winning score by Aaron Copeland

To call this offering a book is an abuse of language

8 November 2014
New York Mid-Century: Post-War Capital of Culture, 1945–1965 Annie Cohen-Solal, Paul Goldberger and Robert Gottlieb (contributions)

Thames & Hudson, pp.399, £28, ISBN: 9780500517727

I picked up this book with real enthusiasm. Who cannot be entranced by those 20 years after the second world war when New York supplanted Paris as the cultural capital… Read more

Frieze Art Fair - VIP Preview

Frieze Art Fair: where great refinement meets harrowing vulgarity

25 October 2014

If you wanted to find a middle-aged man in a bright orange suit, matching tie and sneakers, Frieze is a good place to start looking. I found one. Or maybe… Read more

'Supermarkets' (1976), by Sigmar Polke. Picture: The Estate of Sigmar Polke

Tate Modern’s latest show feels like it’s from another planet

18 October 2014
Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010 Tate Modern

‘Some day we shall no longer need pictures: we shall just be happy.’ — Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, 1966 Who says Germans have no sense of humour? OK, so… Read more

Poor, poor Effie: Dakota Fanning

Effie Gray can effie off

11 October 2014
Effie Gray 12A, Nationwide

Effie Gray, which has been written by Emma Thompson and recounts the doomed marriage of Victorian art critic John Ruskin to his teenage bride (he refused to consummate it), has… 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

27 September 2014
Late Turner — Painting Set Free Tate Britain

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… Read more

‘14.11.65’ by John Hoyland

Is John Hoyland the new Turner?

27 September 2014

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… Read more

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

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

27 September 2014
Austin Lee: Mixed Feelings Carl Kostyál, 12a Savile Row, W1
Ed Fornieles: Modern Family Chisenhale Gallery, 64 Chisenhale Road, E3

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,… Read more

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

Why everyone loves Rembrandt

27 September 2014
‘Rembrandt: The Late Works’ National Gallery

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,’… Read more

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

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

13 September 2014
Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War Imperial War Museum, London
The Great War as Recorded through the Fine and Popular Arts Morley Gallery, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, SE1

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).… Read more

‘I wish my boyfriend was as dirty as your policies’, 2011,by Coral Stoakes

Agitprop, love trucks and leaflet bombs: the art of protest

30 August 2014
Disobedient Objects V&A
Maps to Memorials: Discovering the Work of MacDonald Gill The Lettering Arts Centre, Snape Maltings

Titles can be misleading, and in case you have visions of microwave ovens running amok or washing machines crunching up the parquet, be reassured — or disappointed. Disobedient Objects, the… Read more

‘He thought he could have made it as a visual artist — if only more people had liked his work.’ Above: John Arlott reading (1977) and Kathy and Jessy (1963)

The gentle intoxications of Laurie Lee

28 June 2014

He was always lucky, and he knew it: lucky in the secure rural intimacy of the upbringing described in Cider with Rosie; in the love of some passionate, clever women,… Read more

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Why the BBC will never match Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation

17 May 2014

One afternoon in 1942, Kenneth Clark and his wife Jane called on two young painters for tea. The artists were John Craxton and Lucian Freud, then both around 20 and… Read more

Della Francesca’s ‘Resurrection’

The mathematical revolution behind ‘the greatest picture in the world’

19 April 2014

It seems odd to enter a room dominated by what Aldous Huxley famously called ‘the greatest picture in the world’ to find not another soul there. Looking down from an… Read more