Frieze Art Fair: where great refinement meets harrowing vulgarity

If you wanted to find a middle-aged man in a bright orange suit, matching tie and sneakers, Frieze is a good place to start looking. I found one. Or maybe he was a limited edition existing in several reproductions. Certainly, he was frequently spotted: conspiratorial of aspect, he was stooped and crouched over a mobile with body language saying ‘serious business’. I overheard: ‘Ah, Corinna. Va bene? How are prices in Zurigo?’ Long before you reach Frieze’s vast tented sites in Regent’s Park there are signs of danger. Extraordinary shoes and statement hair and rucked-up skinny trousers start appearing in a fall-out zone about half a mile away from the

Why everyone loves Rembrandt

Talking of Rembrandt’s ‘The Jewish Bride’ to a friend, Vincent van Gogh went — characteristically — over the top. ‘I should be happy to give ten years of my life,’ he exclaimed, ‘if I could go on sitting here in front of this picture for a fortnight, with only a crust of dry bread for food.’ Without undergoing such rigours, visitors to Rembrandt: the Late Works at the National Gallery next month will be able to see the picture that drove Vincent to such a paroxysm of enthusiasm, along with many other masterpieces from the artist’s last years. It may be that in recent decades other 17th-century masters — Caravaggio

Lara Prendergast

Tate Britain’s Turner show reveals an old master – though the Spectator didn’t think so at the time

Juvenilia is the work produced during an artist’s youth. It would seem logical to think, therefore, that an artist’s output during their old age would be classified as ‘senilia’. Yet no such word exists. But how else to classify the three blockbuster exhibitions this year that deal with Matisse, Turner and Rembrandt’s late work? These titans produced some of their finest art during old age. The exuberance of Matisse’s cut-outs are all the more astonishing given that they were produced not in the first bloom of life but rather in the dying embers of it. Rembrandt’s late works — on display at the National Gallery from October and discussed by

The home of Holland’s celebrity paintings gets a makeover

If things had turned out differently for Brazil — I don’t mean in the World Cup — Recife might now be known as Mauritsstad. But when the Portuguese expelled the Dutch in 1654, the name of the new capital of Pernambuco built by governor Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen was lost to history. Today Johan Maurits is remembered for a house, not a city: the splendid private mansion he had built for himself in The Hague right next to the Dutch parliament in the Binnenhof. Designed by the architect Jacob van Campen, the Mauritshuis is a Dutch Classicist doll’s house of a palace that took 11 years to build and was

The selfie from Akhenaten to Tracey Emin

If ever there was a time to write a book about self-portraits, this must be it.  ‘Past interest in the genre,’ James Hall tells us in his introduction to this cultural history, ‘is overshadowed by the obsession with self-portraiture during the last 40 years.’ What he could not have foreseen was that self-portraiture would feature in the mainstream news as never before over the last six months or so. Firstly, the Oxford English Dictionary announced that ‘selfie’ was their word of the year for 2013, spawning a noisy debate about photographic self-portraiture. Next, David Cameron, Barack Obama and Helle Thorning-Schmidt were spotted taking a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service

Art shows you simply mustn’t miss in 2014

One of the great treats of the exhibiting year will undoubtedly be Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs (17 April to 7 September) at Tate Modern. The last phase of Matisse’s productive career was devoted to making extraordinarily vivid images from painted paper cut with scissors, as the physical effort of wielding a paintbrush became too much for him. Matisse’s greatest strengths were as draughtsman and colourist, and the cut-outs combine these skills in abundant measure, releasing a new sense of joyous celebration almost unmatched in the history of art. The largest ever exhibition of the cut-outs, the Tate’s show will feature 120 works, many seen together for the first time. Unmissable.

Andrew Lambirth: Emilio Greco’s early work is undeniably his best

Emilio Greco (1913–95) is considered to be one of Italy’s most important modern sculptors, and certainly he was a successful one, enjoying considerable popularity and renown with his deliberately mannered re-interpretations of classical subjects. A figurative sculptor, Greco went in for elongated limbs and awkward yet dynamic poses that often have a surprising elegance and no little wit. His most celebrated work is ‘Monument to Pinocchio’ (1953) in the Tuscan hill town of Collodi, and one of the highlights of this new exhibition at the Estorick — no doubt intended to revive Greco’s reputation (on the wane since the 1970s) — is a bronze study for it.    Emilio Greco: Study