Mark Glazebrook

Love of queens and princes

Watercolour: only a medium but what a medium! It’s so versatile, and when painting the landscape it can respond with lightning speed to changes in the weather. Watercolour: only a medium but what a medium! It’s so versatile, and when painting the landscape it can respond with lightning speed to changes in the weather. The

Treasure trove

Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art Islamic art is a fast growing subject of study. Too many countries are involved for it to be categorised like French or Japanese art. In New York and London Islamic art tends to be confined to a section of an institution such as the Met, the British Museum or the

Seduced by Klimt

Art Nouveau, or Jugendstil as it was called in Germany, came rather late to Austria, where it was sometimes called Sezessionstil. Gustav Klimt was a leading light in the breakaway Austrian Secession movement founded in 1897. Only a fool would deny that he was an exceptionally gifted artist. He absorbed in turn 19th-century Realism, Symbolism

Bridge over troubled water

Within the expanding aquatic metropolis that is Istanbul, two late-20th-century bridges straddle the continents of Europe and Asia. These traffic-laden steel bridges, spanning high above the ferries and other boats which ply the busy waters of the Bosphorus below, are visibly useful links between two civilisations. They are also symbols, perhaps, of the noble dream

City revival

‘What are you going to be when you grow up?’ an inquisitive adult asked during the break for tea at a tennis party given by my parents in the Vale of Clwyd, North Wales, c.1948. ‘A cotton broker,’ I replied, wishing to follow in the ancestral footsteps. Then my father’s head shook from side to

Portrait of a director

Mark Glazebrook talks to Sandy Nairne, who explains why the NPG is part of the life of London David Piper, director of the National Portrait Gallery 1964–67, was a brilliant historian and museum director who, while writing a book called The English Face, found that there’s no such thing. It vanished like the smile on

Lifting the spirit

Olaf Street sounds as though it should be in some Scandinavian city or other. No doubt there’s a street so named in several Norwegian towns, but there is also an Olaf Street in London W11, of mysterious origin. Could King Olaf II of Norway, fresh from asserting his suzerainty in the Orkneys, have decided to

Magnificent six

Anyone who goes into the Annely Juda Gallery in Dering Street expecting something like those light, airy, weight-denying abstract steel sculptures, painted bright red all over perhaps, like the Tate’s song-evoking ‘Early One Morning’, 1962, is in for a big surprise. All works shown here stand with absolute, resolute, broad-based firmness as if to proclaim

Move over, Monet-maniacs

On 30 January 1999, not long after the Royal Academy had mounted its second Monet exhibition, The Spectator published my first exhibition review. It was about a renewal of Cubism in the sculpture of Ivor Abrahams and began as follows: ‘The end of a century, like a wedding, notoriously calls for something new. A millennium

Can artists save the planet?

Given his interest in the merging of blue with green, David Cameron would presumably feel at home in the United Arab Emirates while Sharjah’s 8th Biennial is on. The Biennial’s title and theme is Still Life: Art, Ecology and the Politics of Change. I imagine that the first two words refer not only to the

At one with nature

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is the first and best of the breed in the British Isles. Since 1977 it has activated 500 acres of undulating land between Barnsley and Wakefield in a unique way. A man-made upper and lower lake, with a weir and cascade at the narrow junction between the two, runs through the middle

‘Culture’s still a low priority’

For a hundred years or so, the director of the Tate Gallery has normally been a major figure in the art world. Sir Norman Reid, director in a dynamic period between 1964 and 1979, increased the Tate’s exhibition space and acquired, for example, an important group of paintings by Mark Rothko. Sir Alan Bowness (1980–8)

Wonderfully mad

Everyone knows about the magnetism of Paris and New York in the annals of modern art, but Belgian painters such as Van de Velde, Toorop, Van Rysselberghe, Evenepoel, Khnopff, Rops, Magritte, Delvaux and Permeke are remarkably significant. The galleries of satellite cities such as Brussels (now only two and a quarter hours away from London

Carr’s coup

Dawson Carr is the approachable but authoritative curator of Later Italian and Spanish Painting at the National Gallery. Talking to him you soon sense a total engagement with his work. He was born in Miami and worked at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles for 16 years. Armed with a tape recorder I met him

Lest we forget

Visitors to the once devastated but now completely reconstructed and rather charming little town of Ypres will find themselves bowing the head to 54,896 dead soldiers of the Salient, as the front-line arc became known. These men fought for our freedom but have no graves. Their names are inscribed on the inside walls of the

Mismatch of two masters

I hope that I am second to none in my fondness for Dutch art galleries — normally, at least. A candlelight evening in the Franz Hals museum, over 40 years ago, memorably transported me straight to 17th-century Holland — or so I imagined. The unmissable Vermeer exhibition in The Hague in 1996 reinforced this magical

Quest for self

Over a year ago my six-year-old grandson Henry Flynn rushed home from his multi-ethnic south London school playground in Streatham with a solemn but urgent question for his father, an art historian, as it happens. So far as is known, incidentally, mainly Anglo-Saxon and Celtic blood flows in young Henry’s veins. ‘Am I a Muslim,

Fitting Tributes

We live in a Post-Modernist age, or so we are told. Within it the legacy of Modernism clings on. The Modern movement in art, of course, based itself on the rejection of many typical 19th-century ideas, values and images. Post-Modernism is pluralistic and capable of accommodating revivals, however. One of the many possible positive readings

Northern lights

The Edinburgh Festival started in 1947 as essentially a music festival, the brainchild of Glyndebourne’s John Christie. The capital was soon turned into a magnet for fringe theatre and other events. It is said that dour natives fearing success left town in a hurry in order to escape the culture-tourist influx. Meanwhile public and private

Singular dualism

Mark Glazebrook applauds Gilbert & George’s latest work at the Venice Biennale When I was learning some art history by teaching it, at Maidstone College of Art some 40 years ago, there was a student who invariably raised his hand after each lecture, no matter what the subject or period. ‘Excuse me, sir, but what