Arts feature

When Picasso was a boy wonder

Exhibitions are only as good as the loans that can be secured for them, as was seen at the Royal Academy’s Manet exhibition recently. The exhibits at Burlington House were thin on the ground because in some cases promised loans were rescinded, and other items were simply not available. Whatever one thinks of that controversial

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Sculpture trail

William Turnbull died last year. And if his name is not as familiar as those of his friends Giacometti and Paolozzi, it should be: an exhibition at Chatsworth in Derbyshire may help put this right. Turnbull was born in Dundee in 1922; he left school at 15, and went to work as an illustrator for


Juvenile delinquency

Study the greats. That’s the advice to all budding playwrights. And there are few contemporary dramatists more worthy of appreciative scrutiny than Bruce Norris, whose savage and hilarious comedy, Clybourne Park, bagged the Pulitzer Prize in America before transferring to the West End where it stunned audiences with its macabre revelations about bourgeois attitudes to


Reason over passion

This year’s London Handel Festival got under way, as usual, with an opera production at the Royal College of Music’s Britten Theatre. Imeneo, a late opera of Handel, is unusual in several respects. While it is concerned with amorous intrigue and frustration, there is no dynastic or other political dimension, a welcome change, and one


Bankers: I like them — somebody has to

I like bankers. They’re an honest lot. All of us like money, but only they are upfront about it. I once witnessed a conversation between three financiers that started with them comparing their cars, then their houses, then their helicopters. None of the shilly-shallying you find at a society cocktail party, where people slyly suss

Lost in space | 21 March 2013

On 28 January 1986 the Challenger space shuttle exploded shortly after launch, killing all seven crew. What made it worse was that one of the victims, Christa McAuliffe, was a teacher, so of course all the children in her class were watching it live on TV. I remember it well. For the first few seconds

The future of arts broadcasting

Under the stewardship of John Reith, the BBC was godlier than it is today. In fact, when Broadcasting House was first opened in central London, Director General Reith made sure to dedicate the whole thing to Him up there. An inscription was chiselled into the wall of the building’s foyer, which began: ‘To Almighty God,


Shades of Gray | 21 March 2013

The Anglo-Irish designer Eileen Gray keeps on being rediscovered but she remains a puzzle. The nub of the Gray ‘problem’, which her last large retrospective at the Design Museum in 2005 failed to answer, is this: how did the author of some of the most sensual, disturbing interior design and furniture of the 1910s and


No questions asked | 21 March 2013

Compliance is a small film that says big things rather than one of those big films  that say very little, if anything. It’s written and directed by no one you have ever heard of, and stars no one you have ever heard of (I know!; be brave!) yet takes such a rivetingly clear-eyed look at


Assault on the ears

Does anyone ever listen to Radio 4’s Moral Maze on Saturday nights? It is only the repeat edition (the live discussion happens on Wednesday nights), but even so why broadcast such a deliberately discomfiting programme at almost bedtime on the most mellow night of the week? It’s such an odd mismatch. There you are, winding