Claudia Massie

The visionary art of Eduardo Paolozzi

On 10 June 1940, a riot erupted in Edinburgh as a 2,000-strong mob swarmed the streets, hell-bent on revenge. Their targets were barbers, delis and ice cream parlours; anything or anyone Italian. Mussolini had just entered the war and the mob scented blood. The police eventually quelled the violence and the city’s more sympathetic locals

The splendour of Edinburgh’s new Scottish galleries 

For nearly 50 years, the Scottish collection at Edinburgh’s National Galleries has been housed in a gloomy subterranean space beneath the main gallery, rarely visited, never celebrated. If you didn’t know it was there, don’t be ashamed. Just 19 per cent of visitors ventured into the bowels to find the jumble of Scottish paintings, dimly

A tale of two cities

Not so long ago, the Dundee waterfront was presided over by a great triumphal arch, built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s visit in 1844. It was an imposing piece of decorative architecture, 84 feet high, and it dominates most views of the city painted over the ensuing century. It became a cherished symbol of Dundee but

Outsider art

The complexities of Schleswig-Holstein run deep. Here’s Emil Nolde, an artist born south of the German-Danish border and steeped in the marshy mysteries and primal romanticism of that landscape. In 1920, he sees his region, and himself, become Danish following a post-Versailles plebiscite. An already well-established German nationalist bent — pronounced despite, or perhaps because

‘I love twigs’: botanical painter Emma Tennant interviewed

Hermitage, where the heel of Roxburghshire kicks into the once-lawless Debatable Lands, seems an unlikely place to find a botanical artist. It’s hard to make anything grow here, let alone an exhibition-load of rare and sometimes exotic plants. Lorded over by Hermitage Castle, a menacing hulk of medieval brutalism described by George MacDonald Fraser as

Joan Eardley deserves to be ranked alongside Bacon and de Kooning

Painting is a fight and few artists demonstrate this more emphatically than the volatile and complicated post-war master, Joan Eardley. Scotland’s great English artist or England’s great Scottish artist, box her as you will, she’s revered north of the border, but often oddly dismissed south of it. The Scottish public have been enthralled by her

The genius of stop-motion wizard Ray Harryhausen

Modern Two in Edinburgh reopens this week, and what more fitting subject for a show in a time of global catastrophe than Ray Harryhausen, titan of cinema, creator of beasts, destroyer of cities, king of adventure? If you were near a screen at any point during the Cold War, you almost certainly watched Harryhausen movies.


The old observatory on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill may be the most favourably positioned art venue in the world. Recently resurrected by a group called Collective, the space, with its panoramic views and Enlightenment history, is an ambitious and imaginative addition to Edinburgh’s art scene. In their Hillside gallery there’s a firing-range warning sign on the

Cutting edge

The art-history books will tell you that sometime around 1912, Picasso invented collage, or, actually, perhaps it was Braque. What they mean is that sometime around 1912 a man of sufficient standing took up a technique that had been quietly practised in largely domestic spheres by a largely female army of amateurs, and applied it

Memories, dreams, reflections | 23 May 2019

This mesmerising retrospective takes up three floors of the City Art Centre, moving in distinct stages from the reedy flanks of the Pentland Hills through fractured half-views of Venice and Scotland and into fresh, twilit forests. Mirrors and windows reflect and refract, rigid faces stare from the shadows, animals flit and bare branches twist. It’s

Lines of enquiry

A cataclysmic storm is unfolding. Dense, thunderous lines of black chalk sweep rapidly around the paper in frantic curls of awesome energy. Rocks tumble beneath the irresistible force of an engulfing flood. Cloud and rain, vapour and water, both churned by the same punishing vortexes, become almost indistinguishable. The scale is hard to judge until

Poster boy

You don’t need to be much of a psychologist to understand the trajectory of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Born to aristocratic first cousins, in a family never shy of consanguinity, he was blighted by congenital deformities and weaknesses. When his brittle legs broke in his teenage years, they stopped growing altogether, leaving the adult Lautrec tiny

A soldier’s-eye view

The first world war paintings of Paul Nash are so vivid and emotive that they have come to embody, as readily as any photograph, the horrendous, bitter misery of the trenches. His blighted landscapes represent the destruction of a generation of soldiers, men who were blasted apart as carelessly as the bomb-shattered mud in ‘The

Northern lights | 16 August 2018

The Rembrandt show at the National Galleries of Scotland (until 14 October) has a problem. A mighty haul of Rembrandt paintings and prints are arrayed against a backdrop that mines the historical impact of his work on British artists and collectors. This is interesting. The problem is that the Rembrandt works are so astounding that

Glasgow School of Art is much more than just an art college

Let’s be clear. This is not Grenfell. The word ‘tragedy’ may be all over the news, Twitter may be full of despair, but no architectural loss can compare with the deaths of seventy-two people. Nevertheless, the response to the latest devastating fire at Glasgow School of Art really is visceral and profound, just as it

Hot dogs

There are currently 151,000,000 photos on Instagram tagged #Dog which is 14,000,000 more than those tagged #Cat. The enormous number shouldn’t surprise us. We’ve been obsessively depicting our dogs since prehistoric times, when we painted them on walls, carved them in ivory and buried them with bones and blankets for the afterlife. A Dog a