Robin Simon

Meeting point

I prepared for this exhibition in Düsseldorf by taking the short train journey down the Rhine to Cologne, which would hate to be thought of as a twin city. Its gigantic cathedral is as I first saw it some 40 years ago, still black with soot (but where would you start to clean it?), and

Masters of the artistic universe

On The Courtauld’s 75th anniversary, Robin Simon looks back at its colourful and distinguished history The Tate Gallery …sorry, I’ll start again. ‘Tate’ spent £100,000 a few years back just to lose its ‘the’. Staff are strictly instructed by the gallery’s Oberkommando to refer to it according to the brand name, as in ‘I’m at

On the trail of Hogarth

‘All gilt and beshit’. That was Hogarth’s crisp verdict on French interiors when he visited Paris in 1748. As an image it is hard to fault, conjuring up gilded boiseries and the bird-droppings of rococo plasterwork. ‘In the streets [of Paris],’ the eye-witness report continued, ‘he was often clamorously rude.’ Hogarth sounds like a modern-day

Turin’s jewel-box in the sky

It is not every day that an exhibition of just 25 works of art is officially opened by a head of state. But this is Italy – and the art belongs to the legendary Gianni Agnelli, head of the Fiat empire. The little gallery containing it is designed by Renzo Piano; and it is perched

Bringing the dead to life

Osbert Sitwell tells a story in Left hand! Right hand! about visiting a country house and sitting on a hall chair which promptly collapses. ‘Don’t worry, Osbert,’ his hostess tells him, ‘it was a very old chair.’ Indeed it was, as Sitwell later discovers: Egyptian and about 3,000 years old. Fortunately, more ‘very old’ objects