Exhibitions

‘Children’s Games’,
1560, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Wonderful, overwhelming, once-in-a-lifetime display of Bruegels – get on a plane now

20 October 2018 9:00 am

‘About suffering’, W.H. Auden memorably argued in his poem ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’, the old masters ‘were never wrong’. Great…

‘Pit Brow Lasses’, 2015, by David Venables

Women’s toplessness caused less offence to Victorians than their trousers

20 October 2018 9:00 am

‘They did not look like women, or at least a stranger new to the district might easily have been misled…

Going to the wall: ‘Jane Avril’, 1899, by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Lautrec often made the stars in his posters look appalling – but they kept coming back

20 October 2018 9:00 am

You don’t need to be much of a psychologist to understand the trajectory of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Born to aristocratic…

The ‘soul canoe’ from New Guinea is a sculpture as powerful as any by Brancusi

Full of fabulous, but baffling, things: Oceania reviewed

13 October 2018 9:00 am

At six in the morning of 20 July 1888, Robert Louis Stevenson first set eyes on a Pacific Island. As…

Black mirror: ‘20:50’, 1987, by Richard Wilson at the Hayward Gallery

There's almost nothing in this Hayward show – and that's the point

29 September 2018 9:00 am

A reflection on still water was perhaps the first picture that Homo sapiens ever encountered. The importance of mirrors in…

A bloody miracle: ‘Apollo and Marsyas’, 1637, by Jusepe de Ribera

The Spanish artist who is more gruesome even than Caravaggio

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Last year my wife and I were wandering around the backstreets of Salamanca when we were confronted by a minor…

‘Camo 15-Inch Howitzer’, 1916, by F.J. Mears

Authenticity over artistry: Brushes with War reviewed

22 September 2018 9:00 am

The first world war paintings of Paul Nash are so vivid and emotive that they have come to embody, as…

The play’s the thing: concept art for The Last of Us™ , 2013–14, created by Naughty Dog

High culture or state-of-the-art murder simulators?: Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

For the past few decades, admirers of video-games have every couple of years mounted a new attempt to persuade the…

‘The Paston Treasure’, detail of a little girl, unknown artist, Dutch School, c. 1663

A historical whodunit that lets you into a forgotten world: The Paston Treasure reviewed

1 September 2018 9:00 am

In 1675 Lady Bedingfield wrote to Robert Paston, first Earl of Yarmouth. Never, she exclaimed, had she seen anything so…

‘The Acrobat Schulz V’ (1921), by Albert Birkle

Caricature, satire and over-the-top horror: Magic Realism at Tate Modern reviewed

25 August 2018 9:00 am

‘It is disastrous to name ourselves!’ So Willem de Kooning responded when some of his New York painter buddies elected…

A kind of blue: Yves Klein’s ‘Jonathan Swift’ (c.1960) amid the Van Dycks and Joshua Reynolds

A visionary and playful heir to Duchamp: Yves Klein at Blenheim Palace

11 August 2018 9:00 am

Nothing was so interesting to Yves Klein as the void. In 1960 he leapt into it for a photograph —…

Landscape (North Friesland), 1920

Nolde was giddily optimistic about the Nazis – they rewarded him by confiscating his works

28 July 2018 9:00 am

The complexities of Schleswig-Holstein run deep. Here’s Emil Nolde, an artist born south of the German-Danish border and steeped in…

Lee Bul’s ‘Monster: Pink’ (foreground) and ‘Crashing’ (background)

If you like monstrosities, head to the Hayward Gallery

21 July 2018 9:00 am

One area of life in which globalism certainly rules is that of contemporary art. Installation, performance, the doctrine of Marcel…

Lee Miller in Hitler’s bath, 1945

Grim and glorious: Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain reviewed

14 July 2018 9:00 am

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Stay too long in the Lee Miller exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield and the metronome might…

An artist of the floating world: Christo’s ‘Mastaba’ on the Serpentine Lake

Appealingly meaningless and improbable: Christo at the Serpentine Lake reviewed

7 July 2018 9:00 am

It’s not a wrap. This is the first thing to note about the huge trapezoid thing that has appeared, apparently…

A new exhibition gives us the real Tolkien – not his awful legacy

7 July 2018 9:00 am

To no one’s surprise, the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition at the Bodleian in Oxford, where J.R.R. spent so much…

‘Self-portrait on the border between Mexico and the United States of America’, 1932, Frida Kahlo

How good a painter was Frida Kahlo?

30 June 2018 9:00 am

In 2004 Mexican art historians made a sensational discovery in Frida Kahlo’s bathroom. Inside this space, sealed since the 1950s,…

Volcano of invention: Alexander Calder at Hauser & Wirth Somerset

Alexander Calder was a volcano of invention

23 June 2018 9:00 am

In the Moderna Museet in Stockholm there is a sculpture by Katharina Fritsch, which references Chekhov’s famous story ‘Lady with…

‘Prostitute and Disabled War Veteran. Two Victims of Capitalism’, 1923, by Otto Dix

Sorrow and pity are no guarantee of artistic success: Aftermath at Tate Britain reviewed

23 June 2018 9:00 am

Some disasters could not occur in this age of instant communication. The first world war is a case in point:…

‘The Battle of the Pyramids’, 1798–9, by François-Louis-Joseph Watteau

The best and most extensive exhibition on Napoleon in three decades

16 June 2018 9:00 am

The Musée de l’Armée at Les Invalides in Paris has a new exhibition that I believe to be the best…

Edward Bawden is deservedly one of Britain’s most popular 20th century artists

9 June 2018 9:00 am

‘When I’m on good form,’ Edward Bawden told me, ‘I get to some point in the design and I laugh…

Astonishing splashes of colour: ‘Square Green with Orange, Violet and Lemon’, 1969, by Patrick Heron

Patrick Heron’s paintings are exhilarating – his colours dance, pulse & boff you on the nose

2 June 2018 9:00 am

Patrick Heron’s paintings of the 1950s melt like ice creams. You want to run your tongue along the canvas and…

Wood and ivory figure group depicting a tooth extraction, 17th century

The troubling history behind the healthy, happy smile

19 May 2018 9:00 am

In his Physiognomische Fragmente, published between 1775 and 1778, the Swiss physiognomist Johann Kaspar Lavater insisted that ‘clean, white and…

‘Office at the Mühling prisoner-of-war camp’, 1916, by Egon Schiele

Animals, tourists and raptors: the hazards of being a plein-air artist

12 May 2018 9:00 am

A conservator at Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum was recently astonished to find a tiny grasshopper stuck in the paint of…

‘Little Girl in a Blue Armchair’, 1878, by Mary Cassatt

No one can beat Mary Cassatt at painting mothers and children

5 May 2018 9:00 am

A lady licking an envelope. An intimate thing. It might be only the bill from the coal-man she’s paying, but…