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Loss of sensation

France has long been the cradle of ground-breaking new dance, thanks to a score of provocative performance-makers. It was about time, therefore, that an internationally renowned festival such as Dance Umbrella paid tribute to a country which has produced radical and revitalising choreography over the past three decades. Former enfant terrible of what has been

Stunning overture

Beethoven’s Fidelio is one of my favourite operas, even a touchstone, but all my most moving experiences of it for a very long time past have been on records, and records of a certain age. The time when we could take its message of heroic hope at its face value seems to have passed, anyway

Solitary ambition

Also at Ben Uri Gallery, 108a Boundary Road, London NW8, until 19 November Four years ago, the painter Christopher P. Wood was browsing in a second-hand bookshop in Harrogate when he came across something very unusual. Opening one of a series of Victorian Magazines of Art, he discovered that the inside was full of drawings,

Animal magic

Graham Greene in his ground-breaking essay on Beatrix Potter published in 1933 writes of ‘her great comedies’, her ‘great near-tragedies’ and ‘her Tempest’ (Little Pig Robinson). He calls Peter Rabbit and his cousin Benjamin ‘two epic personalities’ and invokes Dickens, Forster, Cervantes, Rabelais and Henry James as well as Shakespeare. He gets some of his

Digital watch | 22 October 2005

As we’ve seen in the past week, the full cost of providing services that no one asked for, digital radio and television, will fall on the licence-fee payer, with the BBC demanding annual increases of 2.5 per cent above inflation. It wasn’t entirely obvious in the early days of digital promotion that this was something

It makes you fat and stupid

I was waiting to go on The Jeremy Vine Show to explain why it was I thought Dave Cameron had done the right thing by evading the drugs question when I got talking to the next guest, an American scientist who has just written a book on the biological effects of TV on the brain.

Late-flowering loves

It is a sign of the times that the Great Autumn Show, which has been staged by the Royal Horticultural Society in London in mid-September since God was a small boy, is moving to a date in early October from next year. Autumn starts later and lasts longer; that’s official. And this at a time

Special relationship

For the past 20 years or more the auction houses have been doing their utmost to wrest the retail art market out of the hands of the dealers. Few would disagree that they have had considerable success. In taking over Sotheby’s in 1983, the Detroit shopping mall billionaire Alfred Taubman saw what he called ‘a

Fitting Tributes

We live in a Post-Modernist age, or so we are told. Within it the legacy of Modernism clings on. The Modern movement in art, of course, based itself on the rejection of many typical 19th-century ideas, values and images. Post-Modernism is pluralistic and capable of accommodating revivals, however. One of the many possible positive readings

Portraying the self

This is the season of the self-portrait. At the Royal Academy until 11 December are 150 self-portraits by Edvard Munch (reviewed in this column three weeks ago), the depth of his obsession bordering on sheer tedium. Just opening at the National Portrait Gallery is the first major museum study in this country of the self-portrait,