John-Paul Stonard

John-Paul Stonard is working on a book about the Chatsworth House collection.

At the Royal Academy: Léon Spilliaert

John-Paul Stonard, 16 April 2020

There is​ something perverse about the imagery of the Belgian artist Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946). His neatly made ink drawings and watercolours of objects, rooms and seascapes, until recently on display at the Royal Academy (the exhibition can be viewed online) convey a psychological feeling for the inert, but little or no emotional connection to the things they depict. Women stand...

In Shanghai: The West Bund Museum

John-Paul Stonard, 20 February 2020

The​ West Bund quarter of Shanghai runs along a bend of the Huangpu river, about eight kilometres south of the city’s downtown. There were once docks here, with a large facility for mixing concrete. Planes landed at Lunghua airfield. As industry moved out from the city, the riverside became available to developers. West Bund is now Shanghai’s art quarter, and an annual art fair...

When​ Count Harry Kessler met Edvard Munch in Berlin early in 1895, Munch was ‘still young’, Kessler wrote, but seemed ‘worn out, tired, and in both a psychic and physical sense, hungry’. Munch was 31 and already known for his strange and shocking paintings, but he had yet to make any money from them. Kessler came up with a fund-raising scheme: a portfolio of prints...

At the Guggenheim Bilbao: Marc Chagall

John-Paul Stonard, 19 July 2018

Moishe Shagal​, later known as Marc Chagall, was raised in the last years of the 19th century in Vitebsk, one of the shtetls in the Pale of Settlement, the part of the Russian Empire to which the Jewish population had been confined since the days of Catherine the Great. He is known as a storyteller in painting and a colourist, but in the early years of his career he was above all a Jewish...

At the Courtauld: Chaïm Soutine

John-Paul Stonard, 30 November 2017

In his biography​ of the painter Chaïm Soutine, Monroe Wheeler tells the story of Soutine’s obsession with Rembrandt’s Woman Bathing of 1654, which shows his wife, Hendrickje Stoffels, standing in a pool of water, gingerly hitching up her skirt. Rather than copy the original, Soutine took the unorthodox approach of restaging the scene and painting his own version...

At the Palace Museum: Chinese Painting

John-Paul Stonard, 14 June 2017

Visitors​ arrive in throngs at the National Palace Museum in Taipei from mainland China, queuing up to see the extraordinary collection of Chinese art: bronze, jade and ceramics, as well as painting and calligraphy, the best anywhere in the world. Taipei is the home of the old imperial collection, evacuated in 1933 from the Forbidden City before the fall of Beijing to the Japanese. After a...

At the RA: Anselm Kiefer

John-Paul Stonard, 6 November 2014

Anselm Kiefer​ first came to public attention in London in A New Spirit in Painting, the exhibition held in 1981 at the Royal Academy. It’s fitting, then, that this should be the venue for the first full retrospective in Britain, curated by Kathleen Soriano (until 14 December). Kiefer has always divided critics, some taking fright at his heavy Germanic imagery, others describing the...

The​ German painter Jörg Immendorff died in 2007, at the age of 61, after a long period suffering from motor neurone disease. His reputation had been tarnished by a scandal a few years earlier involving cocaine and prostitutes, but by this stage his artistic career had in any case already begun to falter; his late works never quite captured the success of his Café Deutschland...

In the Studio: Howard Hodgkin

John-Paul Stonard, 23 January 2014

Howard Hodgkin has finished a new painting. It is called Summer Rain, and is painted with oils on a framed wooden panel, about two metres in length and just over one metre high. At the centre a pinkish-brown form like a cool fireball rises vividly against a background of luxuriant green – foliage perhaps, or even palm trees, which appear often in Hodgkin’s pictures. A band of...

At the Guggenheim: Christopher Wool

John-Paul Stonard, 19 December 2013

The American artist Christopher Wool’s large abstract paintings are often beautiful, but they are so emptied of content that it is at first hard to know what to make of them. For the first ten years or so after he came to attention in the mid-1980s, he was considered an artist’s artist: he didn’t have a large public following or much of an international reputation. All this...


It happens to be better

10 September 2015

Like T.J. Clark, I too had the strange experience last year of walking through Auerbach’s London, thinking of his paintings, and suddenly coming across the artist himself (LRB, 10 September). He told me the story of Michael Podro giving a lecture in Berlin, having spent weeks polishing his German – only to be asked questions at the end in flawless English. I regret now not asking Auerbach...

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