Gaby Wood

Gaby Wood is the director of the Booker Prize Foundation.

In a sense, Lucian Freud wasn’t really a printmaker at all. He was a gambler. The appeal of etching was that it allowed him to leave a great deal to chance.

At Tate Britain: Paula Rego

Gaby Wood, 7 October 2021

Jane Eyre, a series of large-scale lithographs made by Paula Rego in 2001, begins with two images based on the novel’s first scene. Girl Reading at Window is a more or less direct illustration of events, sequential moments laid out on a single page like a storyboard or graphic novel. Loving Bewick, the second image, is different. Its subject is what happens at that point in Jane’s...

Diary: How to Draw an Albatross

Gaby Wood, 18 June 2020

Before my appointment​ with the albatross, I’d planned to draw it differently. We first met through glass: the skeleton was in a cabinet in the museum, displayed on a high shelf. If you looked up and dodged the reflections you could see the curved sweep of its beak and the Z-shaped slashes of its vast folded wings. Diomedea exulans, the wandering albatross, was an improbable bird,...

What does it mean for a romance to take the shape of a murder investigation? In a Lonely Place, Nicholas Ray’s elegantly bitter film about damaged trust, throws that question at its viewers. If all love stories are inquiries of one kind or another, the movie seems to suggest, perhaps they differ only in their relative violence. When filming began, Ray was married to its female lead, Gloria Grahame; by the time it ended, they were living apart. Ray said it was ‘a very personal film’ – and as parting gifts go, it was both poisonous and immortal.

At the Imperial War Museum: Lee Miller

Gaby Wood, 17 December 2015

How​ close can you get? That seems to be the question Lee Miller’s war photographs are trying to answer. In theory, it’s the question behind any action shot, or any embedded reporting, but in Miller’s case it was especially wilful. The only cameras she took with her when she joined the 83rd infantry division of the US army, as it advanced across Europe in 1944, were...

Francine-Machine: Automata

Jonathan Rée, 9 May 2002

Descartes’s Meditations tells the story of six days in the life of a rather self-important, busy young man who has granted himself a short sabbatical. Quite a few years have passed, he...

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