Contemporary art

‘Scenes from the Passion: The Hawthorne Tree’, 2001, by George Shaw

The joy of George Shaw’s miserable paintings of a Coventry council estate

30 March 2019 9:00 am

All good narrative painting contains an element of allegory, but most artists don’t go looking for it on a Coventry…

Soft cell: ‘Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202’, 1970–73, by Dorothea Tanning

Wicked, humorous and high-spirited: Dorothea Tanning at Tate Modern reviewed

14 March 2019 9:00 am

Art movements come and go but surrealism, in one form or another, has always been with us. Centuries before Freud’s…

Art or propaganda? Wolfgang Tillmans’ pro-EU poster for the 2016 referendum

Keep politics out of art

9 March 2019 9:00 am

If you want to lose friends and alienate people in the art world, try telling them you support Britain leaving…

Careful, Phyllida: the artist posing by her rickety sculptural wonderland at the RACareful, Phyllida: the artist posing by her rickety sculptural wonderland at the RA

Phyllida Barlow’s sculptural wonderland reigns supreme at the Royal Academy

2 March 2019 9:00 am

‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.’ If there’s an exception to prove Shaw’s rule, it’s Phyllida Barlow. The…

The people have not forgotten me: the exiled Empress of Iran interviewed

15 December 2018 9:00 am

The widow of the Shah of Iran was painted by Warhol and assembled the greatest collection of art outside of Europe. Will Heaven meets her

‘One World’ by Mark Wallinger

The winner of the 2018 What’s That Thing? Award for bad public art is...

8 December 2018 9:00 am

Not a bad year for the award. Honourable mentions must go to the landfill abstractions of Oxford’s new Westgate Centre,…

Read The Spectator article that gave birth to musical minimalism 50 years ago

8 December 2018 9:00 am

Fifty years ago, in a review by composer Michael Nyman, The Spectator helped christen a musical movement that came to dominate the world

Stuffed doll in Edwardian-style black dress with stiletto through face, south Devon, England , 1909–13

The objects that sound witchiest on paper just look sad: Spellbound reviewed

27 October 2018 9:00 am

Just in front of me, visiting Spellbound at the Ashmolean last week, was a very rational boy of about seven…

Antony Gormley’s art works better in theory than in practice

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Antony Gormley has replicated again. Every year or so a new army of his other selves — cast, or these…

Here’s why not to go to the Hamptons

16 June 2018 9:00 am

New York The summertime exodus is upon us. The Hamptons are overflowing with mouth-frothing groupies looking for celebrities, and the…

The glums: Marisol Montiel and Ana Luisa Montiel in Taryn Simon’s ‘An Occupation of Loss’

Grief-conjurors, space-mincers and earth-shovellers: performance roundup

19 May 2018 9:00 am

They enter two by two. Grannies, mainly. Headscarved, mainly. Some locking arms. A bit glum. Like rejects from Noah’s ark.…

The glorious history of Chatham Dockyard, as told through the eyes of artists

31 March 2018 9:00 am

‘Ding, Clash, Dong, BANG, Boom, Rattle, Clash, BANG, Clink, BANG, Dong, BANG, Clatter, BANG BANG BANG!’ is how Charles Dickens…

Games without frontiers: Ian Cheng’s ‘Emissaries Guide – Narrative Agents and Wildlife’ (2017)

The artist who creates digital life forms that bite & self-harm. Sam Leith meets him (and them)

24 March 2018 9:00 am

The artist Ian Cheng creates digital life forms that bite and self-harm. Sam Leith meets him (and them)

‘Majesty’, 2006, by Tacita Dean

Intelligent, poetic and profound: Tacita Dean at the National and National Portrait galleries

24 March 2018 9:00 am

Andy Warhol would probably have been surprised to learn that his 1964 film ‘Empire’ had given rise to an entire…

‘The Appearance’, 2018, by Eric Fischl

Surreal jokes and juicy strokes: Martin Gayford on the power of paint

17 March 2018 9:00 am

René Magritte was fond of jokes. There are several in René Magritte (Or: The Rule of Metaphor), a small but…

Tracey Emin finds a kindred spirit in Turner

28 October 2017 9:00 am

In the 1880s the young Max Klinger made a series of etchings detailing the surreal adventures of a woman’s glove…

‘The Japanese’ by Hans Makart, 1870–75

How do artists vanish?

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Here’s an intriguing thought experiment: could Damien Hirst disappear? By that I mean not the 52-year-old artist himself — that…

‘Untitled (Clear Torso)’, 1993, by Rachel Whiteread

At her best, Rachel Whiteread is almost edibly attractive – but less is more

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Rachel Whiteread is an indefatigable explorer of internal space. By turning humble items such as hot-water bottles and sinks inside…

‘Spray’, by Harold Williamson (1939)

The marvels of British interwar realism

19 August 2017 9:00 am

One day, somebody will stage an exhibition of artists taught at the Slade by the formidable Henry Tonks, who considered…

An early super yacht supplied with prostitutes: an artist’s impression of Caligula’s royal barge, 18th century

The allure of shipwrecks

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Daisy Dunn investigates the allure of shipwrecks – from Caligula to Damien Hirst

Frankly dreadful: ‘The Renaissance of Venus’, 1877, by Walter Crane

Would the artists in Tate’s Queer British Art show have approved of being included?

15 April 2017 8:00 am

‘There is only one thing worse than homosexual art,’ the painter Patrick Procktor was once heard to declare at a…

‘Iguazu’, 2010, by Wolfgang Tillmans

Coolly contemporary – especially in its muddle: Wolfgang Tillmans at the Tate reviewed

4 March 2017 9:00 am

These days the world is experiencing an unprecedented overload of photographs, a global glut of pictures. More and more are…

What you see is what you get: ‘Self-Portrait’ by Brigid Berlin

The wayward deb and Warhol groupie who invented the selfie

19 November 2016 9:00 am

It took a while for Brigid and I to get to know each other, not to mention like each other.…

‘Carcase of an Ox’, by the circle of Rembrandt

Decomposing women, preserved nipples & putrefaction: Flesh at York Art Gallery reviewed

24 September 2016 9:00 am

For a 21st-century gallery, a Victorian collection can be an embarrassment. Tate Modern got around the problem by offloading its…

‘Babel’, 2001, by Cildo Meireles

It’s time to split the Tate again

18 June 2016 9:00 am

In 1992 I wrote a column that was published under the headline ‘It’s Time to Split the Tate’. To my…