Exhibitions

Charles J. Tebbutt at Littleport, January 1893, unknown photographer

A short history of ice skating

15 December 2018 9:00 am

In landscape terms, the Fens don’t have much going for them. What you can say for them, though, is that…

Ivory plaque of a lioness mauling a man, ivory, gold, cornelian, lapis lazuli, Nimrud, 900 BC–700 BC. [© The Trustees of the British Museum]

The Assyrians of Ashurbanipal’s time were just as into pillage and destruction as Isis

1 December 2018 9:00 am

The Assyrians placed sculptures of winged human-headed bulls (lamassus) at the entrances to their capital at Nineveh, in modern Mosul,…

‘Flip Top’, 1962, by Richard Smith

In the 1960s the brightest star of British art was Richard Smith – and you can see why

24 November 2018 9:00 am

It is easy to assume that the contours of art history are unchanging, its major landmarks fixed for ever. Actually,…

‘The Laden Table’, c.1908, by Édouard Vuillard

A charming celebration of Vuillard’s muse – his mum: Barber Institute’s Maman reviewed

17 November 2018 9:00 am

Fin-de-siècle Paris was not just the art capital of the world, it was also the fashion capital. In 1901, 300,000…

King David with his musicians: a page from the Vespasian Psalter, 8th century

To say this is a 'once in a generation' exhibition seems absurdly modest

17 November 2018 9:00 am

‘The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea drives us to the barbarians; between these two means of death…

‘The Doom Fulfilled’, by Edward Burne-Jones, 1888

Like today's conceptual artists, Burne-Jones was more interested in ideas than paint

10 November 2018 9:00 am

‘I want big things to do and vast spaces,’ Edward Burne-Jones wrote to his wife Georgiana in the 1870s. ‘And…

Stuffed doll in Edwardian-style black dress with stiletto through face, south Devon, England , 1909–13

The objects that sound witchiest on paper just look sad: Spellbound reviewed

27 October 2018 9:00 am

Just in front of me, visiting Spellbound at the Ashmolean last week, was a very rational boy of about seven…

‘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…