Exhibitions

‘Portrait of Lee Miller as l’Arlésienne’, 1937, by Pablo Picasso

Was Picasso making fun of the subjects of his portraits?

22 October 2016 9:00 am

As a chat-up line it was at least unusual. On 8 January 1927, a 46-year-old man approached a young woman…

Muslim magic – Islam has always dabbled in the occult

15 October 2016 9:00 am

Islam has always dabbled in the dark arts, says Justin Marozzi

Caravaggio blasts everything else off the walls in the National Gallery’s new show

15 October 2016 9:00 am

We don’t know what Caravaggio himself would have made of Beyond Caravaggio, the new exhibition at the National Gallery which…

Embroidery: the great British art form

8 October 2016 9:00 am

For much of the Middle Ages, especially from 1250–1350, ‘English work’ was enormously prized around Europe from Spain to Iceland.…

Majestic, exhilarating and overpowering: Royal Academy’s Abstract Expressionism reviewed

1 October 2016 9:00 am

Martin Gayford is dazzled by the scale, majesty and visual power of the Royal Academy’s Abstract Expressionism show

George Cruikshank’s illustration for ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens

Mutton, potatoes and ale – how children ate in the 19th century

24 September 2016 9:00 am

Modern Britain scratches its head over children who are overfed, not underfed, while guilt-ridden mothers stand accused of feeding children…

‘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…

We, too, are America: children and members of the San Francisco chapter of the National Council of Negro Women at a voter registration motorcade, 1956

How helpful is it for America to have a museum dedicated to African American culture?

24 September 2016 9:00 am

‘A fool’s errand’. That is how Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and…

‘The Sombre Malembo, God of the Crossroads’, 1943, by Wifredo Lam

This large Tate Modern exhibition is cruel to Wifredo Lam

17 September 2016 9:00 am

‘My painting is an act of decolonisation,’ declared Wifredo Lam. These are the first words you read on entering the…

Natural high: John Sebastian’s acoustic set at Woodstock, 1969

A great retro shop with a dreary message: V&A’s You Say You Want a Revolution? reviewed

10 September 2016 9:00 am

Back in the high optimism of the 2008 presidential campaign, one of Barack Obama’s more extravagant hopes was that ‘the…

One of the Maunsell Forts at Red Sands near Whitstable: built during world war two as an anti-aircraft gun tower, it became the home of pirate radio in the 1960s

Estuarial towns are an architectural utopia, says Jonathan Meades

3 September 2016 9:00 am

Estuarial towns are an architectural utopia — and the source of some sublimely weird sights, says Jonathan Meades

‘Apple Blossoms’, 1873, by Charles-François Daubigny

The man who who invented impressionism

23 July 2016 9:00 am

The last boat I saw in the galleries on the Mound was a canoe that the Scottish painter Jock McFadyen…

‘The Deluge’, 1920, by Winifred Knights

Piero della Francesca meets Dalí: Winifred Knights at Dulwich Picture Gallery reviewed

9 July 2016 9:00 am

‘Hidden beauty is best (half seen), faces turned away.’ So noted a young English painter named Winifred Knights in 1924.…

Not charging for entry has led to the National Gallery resembling Wembley on match day

2 July 2016 9:00 am

Tate Modern’s new Switch House extension in London has been greeted with acclaim. It is a building designed in the…

Birthday card from Frank Auerbach to Lucian Freud

You can tell a lot from the paintings painters owned, as this National Gallery show proves

25 June 2016 8:00 am

‘In the end, nothing goes with anything,’ Lucian Freud remarked one afternoon years ago. ‘It’s your taste that puts things…

‘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…

Buried treasure: an archaeologist diver brushes clear a bovid jaw discovered in Aboukir Bay

The treasures of Alexandria revealed: British Museum’s Sunken cities reviewed

4 June 2016 9:00 am

It was not so unusual for someone to turn into a god in Egypt. It happened to the Emperor Hadrian’s…

The lifts are lovely: Tate Modern’s extension reviewed

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Tate Modern, badly overcrowded, has built itself a £260 million extension to spread everyone about the place more. This means…

‘Oh god, ma tutto occupato’ (Ach herrje, ma tutto occupato), 2016, by Georg Baselitz

As he approaches 80, the German master Georg Baselitz contemplates the end

21 May 2016 9:00 am

‘In many ways,’ Georg Baselitz muses, ‘I behaved against the grain of the times I grew up in.’ The era…

Satirical diptych, 1520–1530, anonymous Flemish artist

This Parisian exhibition has rewritten the story of art

14 May 2016 9:00 am

Why do we put one work of art beside another? For the most part museums and galleries tend to stick…

‘Cassava with White Peacock Butterfly and young Golden Tegu’, 1702–3, by Maria Merian

The 17th century painter who hacked her way through Suriname in search of insects

7 May 2016 9:00 am

Maria Sibylla Merian was a game old bird of entrepreneurial bent, with an overwhelming obsession with insects. Born in Frankfurt…

‘Undressed’ is too much boob, not enough woman: ‘Tamila’ lingerie set from the Agent Provocateur Soirée collection

Too much boob – not enough woman: Undressed at the V&A reviewed

16 April 2016 9:00 am

The V&A is selling £35 Agent Provocateur pants. This is, of course, a business deal because Agent Provocateur — along…

Detail of mosaic depicting the martyrdom of Saints Castus and Cassius, 12th century, at the Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily

Norman Sicily was a multicultural paradise – but it didn’t last long

9 April 2016 9:00 am

There are lessons to be learned from the disintegration of this once majestic multicultural Norman kingdom, says Martin Gayford

‘Macbeth, Banquo and Witches on the Heath’, 1794, by Henry Fuseli

Why do some museums insist on playing piped music into exhibitions?

9 April 2016 9:00 am

There was a genteel brouhaha last year — leaders in the Times, letters to the Telegraph, tutting in the galleries…

Unchanging: Florence’s skyline and the Arno

Botticelli’s jokes and the quarrelsome, creative spirit of Florence

2 April 2016 9:00 am

Once, it seems, Sandro Botticelli played a trick on a neighbour. Next door was a weaver who possessed eight looms.…