Arts feature

The art of Coke

In 1915 D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation was premièred, Henry Ford manufactured his millionth Model-T (‘a million of anything is a lot’, he said), Kafka’s Metamorphosis was published and so, too, was one of Einstein’s critical contributions to his own general theory of relativity. Mixed into this modernist cocktail of extreme achievement and harrowing


Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem review: too clever by half

Big event. A new play from Sir Tom. And he tackles one of philosophy’s oldest and crunchiest issues, which varsity thinkers call ‘the hard problem’. How is it that a wrinkled three-pound blancmange sitting at the top of the spinal cord can generate abstract thoughts of almost limitless complexity? In real life Sir Tom is


Why we should say farewell to the ENO

It’s easy to forget what a mess of an art form opera once was. For its first 100 years it had no name, it had no fixed address, it didn’t really know who it was or what it was doing. You’d find it at schools, at weddings, at political functions. It was an artistic whore



Marlene Dumas at Tate Modern reviewed: ‘remarkable’

‘Whoever wishes to devote himself to painting,’ Henri Matisse once advised, ‘should begin by cutting out his own tongue.’ Marlene Dumas — whose work is the subject of a big new retrospective at Tate Modern — has not gone quite that far (and neither, of course, did Matisse). On the other hand, she does not


Selma review: rich, nuanced, heartbreaking

Selma, the civil rights film that stars David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, undoubtedly contains the best and most powerful performance of the year as not nominated for an Oscar. Oyelowo has said this is because Hollywood prefers black actors when they play ‘subservient roles’ and aren’t ‘the centre of their own narrative, driving it


Why BBC Arabic is booming

Last weekend BBC Arabic celebrated 77 years since John Reith (as he then was) launched the first foreign-language service of the fledgling BBC Empire Service with an announcement (in English) in which he declared that the programmes would always be ‘reliable, accurate and interesting’, values that have become virtually cast in stone as the Reithian