Kandinsky is the star of Tate’s expressionist show

‘We invented the name Blaue Reiter whilst sitting around a coffee table in Marc’s garden at Sindelsdorf… we both loved blue, Marc liked horses and I liked riders, so the name came of its own accord.’ Christened so casually by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc in 1911, the Blue Rider was always more of an idea than an art society, but the Tate Modern’s new exhibition – the first in the UK since 1960 – makes it sound more contemporary by describing it as a transnational collective. In practice, as Kandinsky’s partner Gabriele Münter remembered, it was ‘only a group of friends who shared a common passion for painting as

Artist, actor, social justice warrior, serial killer: the many faces of Walter Sickert

‘It’s too dark and life is too short,’ was Walter Sickert’s explanation of his decision to leave London in 1898. Separated from his first wife Ellen Cobden and in financial trouble, he did a flit across the Channel to Dieppe. A magnet for artists in the summer season, the town had long been a popular subject for tourist views. ‘I see my line…’ he wrote soon after his arrival. ‘Picturesque work. This place Dieppe, is my only up to now, goldmine.’ The place had already had a transformative effect on his painting. It was while spending the summer there with his mentor Whistler in 1885 that he had shifted artistic

The Tate’s grubby cancellation of Rex Whistler

Tate Britain’s Rex Whistler restaurant will never reopen the gallery announced yesterday. The restaurant – once known for its excellent and well priced wine list – won’t reopen due to the apparent offensiveness of the mural on its walls. Diners used to be embraced by the mural, The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats, a painting by Rex Whistler, an artist best known for his decorative murals in grand country houses. He was killed in France in 1944 fighting the Nazis, in other words engaging in anti-racist action. When the Tate restaurant first opened in 1927 it was described as ‘the most amusing room in Britain’. It was a favourite

The curious cancellation of the Rex Whistler restaurant

We laugh at how the Victorians put plaster fig leaves on nude statues; but when the annals of the strange new puritanism that has been sweeping the British Isles come to be written, then the latest debacle over Rex Whistler’s mural at the Tate must surely comprise a central chapter. As Macaulay once wrote, ‘We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodic fits of morality.’ In 1926, Rex Whistler was commissioned to paint a mural around the Tate’s basement restaurant. He was only 20 and still a student at the Slade, so a bold choice but one he amply justified. The resulting mural, In