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Art

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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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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

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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

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

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Red faces in the galleries

21 April 2010
The Conman: How One Man Fooled the Modern Art Establishment Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo

Gibson Square, pp.327, 14.99

Art fraudsters, especially forgers, have a popular appeal akin to Robin Hood. Their cock-a-snook cunning provides a twist on those money shots on the Antiques Roadshow when some dotty great… Read more

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Our squandered national treasure

14 April 2010
The South Bank Show: Final Cut Melvyn Bragg

Hodder, pp.307, 20

Torn with grief, Melvyn Bragg has produced a condolence book for the South Bank Show (born 1978, died of neglect, 2010). These 25 vignettes, based on the best of his… Read more

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Thoroughly hooked

14 April 2010
Blood Knots Luke Jennings

Atlantic Books, pp.227, 16.99

On the southern edge of Kensal Green cemetery, beneath the wall that separates the graves from the Grand Union Canal, is a memorial inscription that would stop a Duns Scotus… Read more

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Fine artist, but a dirty old man

31 March 2010
Linley Sambourne: Illustrator and Punch Cartoonist Leonee Ormond

Paul Holberton, pp.312, 30

I have always been sceptical of those passages in the ‘Ancestry’ chapters of biographies that run something like this: Through his veins coursed the rebellious blood of the Vavasours, blended… Read more

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Life beyond the canvas

24 February 2010
Into the Frame: The Four Loves of Ford Madox Brown Angela Thirlwell

Chatto, pp.328, 25

Angela Thirlwell’s previous book was a double biography of William Rossetti (brother to the more famous Dante Gabriel) and his wife Lucy (daughter of the more famous Ford Madox Brown).… Read more

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A dramatic streak

10 February 2010
John Armstrong: The Paintings Andrew Lambirth

Philip Wilson Publishers, pp.240, 35

Late in the 19th century, archaeologists digging in the Roman Forum discovered a lime kiln. It had been built to incinerate marble into an aggregate for the mortar for the… Read more

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A dream made concrete

6 January 2010
Sydney Opera House: A Tribute to J Katarina Stübe and Jan Utzon

Reveal Books, pp.183, 45

You are celebrated as the architect of one of the most famous buildings in the world, now in your late eighties and living quietly in your home outside Copenhagen. One… Read more

Master of accretion

30 December 2009
Frank Auerbach William Feaver

Rizzoli, pp.359, 100

Frank Auerbach (born 1931) is one of the most interesting artists working in Europe today, a philosophical painter of reality who works and re-works his pictures before he discovers something… Read more

The king of chiaroscuro

14 December 2009
Caravaggio: The Complete Works Sebastian Schütze

Taschen, pp.306, 100

These days, it is easy to take it for granted that Caravaggio (1571-1610) is the most popular of the old masters, yet it was not ever thus. In my Baedeker’s… Read more

Repeat that, repeat

9 December 2009
The Infinity of Lists Umberto Eco

Maclehose Press, pp.408, 35

When the Louvre invited me to organise for the whole of November 2009 a series of conferences, exhibitions, public readings, concerts, film projections and the like on the subject of… Read more

The optimism of a suicide

9 December 2009
Vincent Van Gogh: The Letters Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten and Nienke Bakker

Thames & Hudson, 325

A postal strike would have been a disaster for Van Gogh. Letters were his lifeline and consolation. Not only did he receive through the mail his regular allowance from his… Read more

Romantic approaches

4 November 2009
John Hoyland: Scatter the Devils Andrew Lambirth

Unicorn Press, pp.160, 40

Spectator readers will know that Andrew Lambirth is a romantic, a force for the literary and poetic approach to art criticism, so he is an admirably empathetic guide to Hoyland:… Read more