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Art

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1951 and all that

18 June 2011
Beacon for Change: How the 1951 Festival of Britain Shaped the Modern Age Barry Turner

Aurum, pp.282, 16.99

The author of this book and I both visited the 1951 Festival of Britain on London’s South Bank as schoolboys. The author of this book and I both visited the… Read more

Religious doubt

23 April 2011

No description of Eric Gill is ever without the words ‘devout Catholic’, and Eric Gill: Lust for Letter & Line (British Museum Press, £9.99), while short, provides evidence to both… Read more

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The Midas touch

23 April 2011
Bill Gold: Poster Works introduction by Christopher Frayling, edited by Tony Nourmand, foreword by Clint Eastwood

Reel Art Press, pp.447, 400

Now that we can read on Kindle and some people fear that paper-and-ink books will become extinct, one’s first impulse might be to say hurrah for this mighty production. Now… Read more

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Fish and chaps

23 April 2011
The Day of the Peacock: Style for Men, 1963-1973 Geoffrey Aquilina Ross

V&A, pp.144, 24.99

This is the ultimate ‘niche’ book. This is the ultimate ‘niche’ book. It focuses on that singular decade between the years of rockers and punks, when toffs, freed from school… Read more

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Never the same

12 February 2011

There is a saying that art in restaurants is like to food in museums. You know the feeling: the attendant monstrosity on the wall peers over your shoulder, wrecking your… Read more

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Creative protesting

22 January 2011

It’s time to heed the complaints and free art schools from the constraints of the university system, says Niru Ratnam The Turner Prize award ceremony always attracts protest — usually… Read more

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Never the same

15 January 2011

Simon Starling’s art often involves some form of recycling — his controversial ‘Shedboatshed’ won the 2005 Turner Prize – and his ‘new’ exhibition at Camden Arts Centre (until 20 February)… Read more

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More real art, please

15 January 2011

Although I am an admirer of Dulwich Picture Gallery, and like to support its generally rewarding exhibition programme, I will not be making the pilgrimage to see its latest show,… Read more

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Best in show

15 January 2011

Penelope Curtis, director of Tate Britain, talks to Ariane Bankes about the planned revamp of the museum and 100 different ways of showing sculpture The evening after first meeting Penelope… Read more

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A Cumberland legend

8 January 2011
Sheila Fell Cate Haste

Lund Humphries, pp.136, 35

The legend of the glamorous artist Sheila Fell (1931–79), with her striking looks — black hair, white skin, large eyes — who died young, has tended to obscure the real… Read more

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Another form of segregation

18 December 2010
The Image of the Black in Western Art edited by David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates Jr

Harvard University Press, pp.4 volumes, 69.95 each

N.B. This review was published without its final two paragraphs in the 18th December 2010 issue of The Spectator. These paragraphs have been reinstated for the online version below. These… Read more

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A look ahead

18 December 2010

The trend of fewer temporary exhibitions in our museums is becoming established, as the cost of mounting blockbusters escalates beyond even the generous reach of sponsorship. This is in sharp… Read more

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Exhibitions Round-up: lifting the heart

11 December 2010

The run-up to Christmas is the perfect season for an exhibition of Andrew Logan’s joyful and extravagant art. The run-up to Christmas is the perfect season for an exhibition of… Read more

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Forget the matchstick men

4 December 2010
L.S. Lowry: The Art and Artists T.G> Rosenthal

Unicorn Press, pp.320, 40

Here at last is a book that takes L. S. Lowry’s art seriously and treats it with the scholarly attention it deserves. Here at last is a book that takes… Read more

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Ring of truth

27 November 2010
An Object of Beauty Steve Martin

Weidenfeld, pp.295, 18.99

The glamorous art world of Manhattan is a natural subject for novelists and film-makers, but with the honourable exception of William Boyd’s Stars and Bars, written before the great art… Read more

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Art is a high-risk business

16 October 2010

Never before have so many people in so many places collected works of art. In the past decade, the auction houses in particular have made heroic efforts to expand their… Read more

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Director’s cut

16 October 2010

In the spring of 2008 I went on a press trip with the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, to Hadrian’s wall. It was one of a series of… Read more

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Double exposure

18 September 2010

I never thought I’d write these words. I never thought I’d write these words. This book is unclassifiable. It belongs to a whole new genre. The field of literature has… Read more

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Built for eternity

14 August 2010
The Escorial: Art and Power in the Renaissance Henry Kamen

Yale, pp.291, 25

The Escorial, as a monastery and a royal palace, was the brain child of Philip II of Spain. Built in the latter half of the 16th century, about 30 miles… Read more

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Doing what it says on the tin

14 August 2010
Andy Warhol: His Controversial Life, Art and Colourful Times Tony Scherman and David Dalton

JR Books, pp.440, 25

If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface: of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it. Much… Read more

A flammable individual

30 June 2010
Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane Andrew Graham-Dixon

Allen Lane, pp.514, 30

On the night of 18 October 1969, thieves broke into the Oratory of San Lorenzo, Palermo, and removed Caravaggio’s Nativity. On the night of 18 October 1969, thieves broke into… Read more

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More than a painter of Queens

30 June 2010
Philip De Laszlo: His Life and Art Duff Hart-Davis

Yale, pp.412, 30

The last words of Hungarian-born portraitist Philip de László, spoken to his nurse, were apparently, ‘It is a pity, because there is so much still to do.’ As Duff Hart-Davis’s… Read more

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A man after his time

30 June 2010
BB, A Symposium: A Life in Words Bryan Holden (editor)

Roseworld, pp.286, 30

Denys Watkins-Pitchford (1905-1990) illustrated dozens of books under his double-barrel and wrote at least 60 of his own under the two initials ‘BB’. Denys Watkins-Pitchford (1905-1990) illustrated dozens of books… Read more

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Small but perfectly formed

23 June 2010
The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance Edmund de Waal

Chatto, pp.351, 16.99

Some years ago, Edmund de Waal inherited a remarkable collection of 264 netsuke from his great-uncle Iggie, whom he had got to know 20 years previously while studying pottery and… Read more

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Painting the town together

2 June 2010
The Last Bohemians Roger Bristow

Sansom, pp.416, 29.95

This book recounts a terrible story of self-destruction by two painters who, in their heyday, achieved considerable renown in Britain and abroad. Robert Colquhoun (1914-62) and Robert MacBryde (1913-66), both… Read more