Arts feature

Worshipping a golden calf

Martin Gayford considers whether we are in the final, pre-popping stages of an art bubble Journalists arriving for the press view of Renaissance Faces at the National Gallery last week were greeted by placards. Why, the slogans asked — you might think reasonably enough — could that institution not pay its staff a little more,

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Cast adrift

The Burial at Thebes The Globe Walton double bill Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House What is our best chance of experiencing Greek tragedies as works that are alive and life-giving, as we can sometimes experience Shakespeare? I’m taking it that we don’t understand Greek, but there are major problems even for those who do. Seamus

Wexford winner

The Irish government has spent €27 million on a stunning new opera house in Wexford, which is having a flawless and crisis-free baptism in the current opera festival there. The old Theatre Royal was knocked down in November 2005, and the money the festival managed to raise was just €6 million of the €33 million

Context unbecoming

Mariinsky Ballet Sadler’s Wells Tiago Guedes: Various Materials The Place: Robin Howard Dance Theatre I know I am not alone in thinking that an all-Forsythe programme was not an ideal choice for the Mariinsky Ballet’s opening night in London. As the man who dared successfully to manipulate ballet’s centuries’ old principles, William Forsythe is regarded

Chamber charm

Further thoughts on the ever renewed quest for the perfect acoustic for performance and audition of music. Over the past five months I’ve heard one of my string quartets given five of its six première performances in exceedingly diverse and discrepant venues, so much so as (sometimes) to make almost a different piece of it.

Acting up

Oedipus Olivier La Clique Hippodrome Here it is. The National’s autumn blockbuster, Oedipus. Of all the plays of classical antiquity this is the best, the most accessible, the least tedious, and Jonathan Kent’s impressive production allows the beautiful and awful symmetry of the storyline to work its magic. Yet Kent and his designer Paul Brown

Jesting in earnest

Love’s Labour’s Lost Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon In Love’s Labour’s Lost Shakespeare uses the most transparent of silly plots as a pretext for pyrotechnics with the raw material of his craft. On a sudden whim, a king and three courtiers dedicate themselves to scholarship and celibacy. A princess and her companions arrive and duly scupper this

Too much of a good thing

Ghost Town 12A, Nationwide Ghost Town stars Ricky Gervais in his first leading Hollywood role, and how much you like this film will probably depend on how much you like Gervais — what? You expected him to turn in a Daniel Day-Lewis-type performance? — and how much Gervais you can take at one sitting; the

Half-hearted satire

Harry Hill’s TV Burp (ITV, Saturday); Hole in the Wall (BBC1, Saturday); Saturday Night Live (NBC); The Sarah Silverman Program (Paramount, Monday and Tuesday); Desperate Housewives (Channel 4, Wednesday) I don’t want to come over as obsessive, but I was delighted to see the return of Harry Hill’s TV Burp (ITV, Saturday). This show, which

It takes two

It happened just before the eight o’clock pips on Radio Two on Good Morning Sunday. One of those rare moments when something clicks on air and you’re suddenly so connected to what’s being said that you feel you’re in a private conversation. It’s just you and the voice on the other side of the microphone

Sticking it out

Who’d be a car dealer now? With new sales 20 per cent down and dropping, manufacturers moving to four-day weeks, dealerships closing and the used-car market awash with unsold vehicles, they must feel like turkeys being sized up for Christmas. And that’s before anyone has felt next year’s swingeing road-tax increases on post-2001 mid-sized vehicles

Independent spirit

It’s possible that my life would have been quite different if I hadn’t met the literary agent Jacintha Alexander at a party in 1985. At the time I was an impoverished researcher and aspirant writer, with a specialism in 20th-century British art. As we chatted of this and that, it emerged that Jacintha had a

Dashing pair

Jack B. Yeats & Oskar Kokoschka Compton Verney, until 14 December In 1962 Oskar Kokoschka drew record crowds to his Tate retrospective — belated recognition for the Austrian-born artist who had lived in London, on and off, since 1938. Herbert Read blamed the long delay on Kokoschka’s ‘un-Englishness’, so it’s ironic that his latest comeback

Shutting up shop

One day, perhaps sooner rather than later, it may be possible to draw a telling analogy between the practices of the world financial markets which propelled the global economy to the brink of recession and those which prompted the phenomenal rise of the international contemporary art market. After all, so many of the players are

Sense and sensuality

Correggio and the Antique National Gallery and other locations in Parma, until 25 January 2009 Unlike the other leading artists of the Italian High Renaissance — Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian — Correggio lived a life of provincial obscurity. Unable to find any likeness of him, Vasari was obliged in his Lives of the Artists to

Apotheosis of Caro

Anthony Caro’s Chapel of Light Church of St-Jean-Baptiste, Bourbourg The Barbarians and Clay works Musée des Beaux-Arts, Calais, until 23 February 2009 Paper works and Table sculptures Musée de Gravelines, until 21 February 2009 Steel sculptures Lieu d’Art et d’Action Contemporaine, Dunkirk, until 21 February 2009 There was once a small town called Vence, just