Arts feature

Root and branch

Eventually,’ said Michelangelo Pistoletto, ‘it became a movement. In fact, I believe that arte povera was the last true movement. Since then all artists have been individuals.’ We were sitting one baking hot day last month in his cool study in Biella, a small town in the foothills of the Alps where he has established

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Nicholas Serota

In this week of toadying obsequies after the (rather late) retirement of Sir Nicholas Serota from his imperial throne at Tate, an alternative narrative (briefly) enters the minds of the mischievous. Alone, aloof, fastidious, austere, he is sitting, suited darkly, in his office surveying, with a basilisk stare, the spreadsheets and data-sets his cowering elfin

Making history | 22 September 2016

‘A fool’s errand’. That is how Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, wryly characterises the decade’s work it took him to get the museum built. It opens in Washington DC this weekend. A talented fundraiser, he and his team matched the $270 million from the federal

Belly of an architect

Depending on your point de vue, Haussmann’s imperial scheme for Paris created townscape of thrilling regularity or boring uniformity. Whatever; against a backdrop of serene haute-bourgeois perfection, intrusions have always been controversial. Eiffel’s tower of 1889 was attacked by the intellos of the day. Maupassant, Gounod and Dumas fils thought it a hideous construction of


In a league of her own

The Emperor seems like a worthy lesson in Ethiopian history. Haile Selassie’s final days are recounted by a retinue of devoted flunkies. He had valets, chauffeurs, zoo-keepers and door-openers to perform every conceivable chore. Each morning a butler proffered a silver dish loaded with meat from which the emperor fed his exotic pets. A clock-watcher,


Pole apart

Alas, poor André Tchaikowsky. A survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, with an assumed name that probably did his musical career as much harm as good (he was born Robert Andrzej Krauthammer), he died of cancer in 1982 shortly after his only opera, The Merchant of Venice, was rejected by ENO. He’s remembered today principally for


Cautionary tale

The closing credits of National Treasure (Channel 4, Tuesday) contain the usual disclaimer that any resemblance between its characters and real people is merely coincidental. Well, coincidental maybe, but also entirely inevitable — because this is a drama based on Operation Yewtree. With its choice of subject matter, a cast including Robbie Coltrane and Julie


Food of love

Modern Britain scratches its head over children who are overfed, not underfed, while guilt-ridden mothers stand accused of feeding children badly even if they are not obese. These are not insignificant troubles since childhood obesity is set to cost the NHS many millions in years to come. But as a new exhibition at the Foundling

Skinny dipping

For a 21st-century gallery, a Victorian collection can be an embarrassment. Tate Modern got around the problem by offloading its Victoriana on to Tate Britain, but York Art Gallery decided to make the best of it. As the birthplace of William Etty, York found itself lumbered with a major collection of work by a minor


No fear

I can’t say I care for zombies particularly or even understand them — OK, they’re the living dead, but what do they have against the living living? Why do they always want to bite their faces off? — and I can’t say I cared for The Girl With All the Gifts either. This is an


The Third way

We now think of Radio 3 as the music station, but when it was created in 1946 as the Third Programme music was only meant to take up one third of its output. Dramas, features, talks were just as crucial to its identity, and poetry especially was to be heard ‘three times a week and