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The Limit

Rosemary Hill, 2 November 1995

Christopher WoodAn English Painter 
by Richard Ingleby.
Allison and Busby, 295 pp., £25, May 1995, 0 85031 849 1
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Barbara Hepworth: A Life of Forms 
by Sally Festing.
Viking, 343 pp., £20, May 1995, 0 670 84203 6
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... The lives of Christopher Wood and Barbara Hepworth are case-studies, each in its way unhappy, of the artist as a product of his own creation. For both the idea of art, the lure of fame, the wish to escape from the stolid Northern middle class into which they were born, were motivating forces as powerful as the desire to express a vision through painting or sculpture ...

At Kettle’s Yard

Eleanor Birne: Ben and Winifred Nicholson, 17 April 2014

... Kettle’s Yard – they in turn patronised other artists. To their house in Cumbria they invited Christopher Wood, who hadn’t managed to sell much, though Winifred, never less than enthusiastic, said of him: ‘Here was England’s first painter. His vision is true, his grasp real, his power is life itself.’ Ben and Kit would go out walking together ...


Philip French, 6 June 1996

The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives 
by Sebastian Faulks.
Hutchinson, 309 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 0 09 179211 8
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... the publication of Sebastian Faulks’s percetive study of three men who died young, the painter Christopher Wood (1901-30), the war hero, Richard Hillary (1919-43), and Jeremy Wolfenden (1934-65) who was (or is?) the most spectacular failure of my Oxford generation. Faulks believes that ‘short lives are more sensitive indicators of the pressure of ...


Tom Phillips, 2 April 1981

English Art and Modernism 1900-1939 
by Charles Harrison.
Allen Lane, 416 pp., £20, February 1981, 0 7139 0792 4
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... the much more difficult task of describing the nature of a better-nurtured talent. Here he is on Christopher Wood: Yet Wood was never possessed of the kind of quasi-modernist technical facility which seemed to come so easily to the petits-maîtres of the School of Paris. The tendency of his work was always towards a ...

At Kettle’s Yard

Eleanor Birne: The Reopening, 22 March 2018

... the yellow oval in the Miró painting that hangs nearby, and the yellow of the flowers in the Christopher Wood picture opposite. On a low table in Jim’s bedroom there’s a spiral of grey and white pebbles in a perfect grading of colour and size. Everything demands to be touched, and can’t be: visiting is excruciating, in the best way. Against ...

Shaggy Horse Story

Julian Bell: Fabulising about Form, 17 December 2020

A History of Art History 
by Christopher Wood.
Princeton, 472 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 691 15652 1
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... centre stage and allows for the possibility that art itself could be a protagonist in history.Christopher Wood cares for the idea that art history could consist in what he calls a ‘biography of form’. This is one of the chief sympathies underpinning his huge and hugely impressive chronological narrative A History of Art History. The book surveys ...

Preposterous Timing

Hal Foster: Medieval Modern Art, 8 November 2012

Medieval Modern: Art out of Time 
by Alexander Nagel.
Thames and Hudson, 312 pp., £29.95, November 2012, 978 0 500 23897 4
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Depositions: Scenes from the Late Medieval Church and the Modern Museum 
by Amy Knight Powell.
Zone, 369 pp., £24.95, May 2012, 978 1 935408 20 8
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... text so far in this debate is Anachronic Renaissance (2010) by the Americans Alexander Nagel and Christopher Wood. It seems counterintuitive that the case for ‘anachronic’ thinking would be launched in a study of the Renaissance, for it was then that the ideas of the artist as great original and the artwork as absolutely unique first took hold. Yet ...

In a Forest of Two-Dimensional Bears

Arthur C. Danto, 9 April 1992

Perspective as Symbolic Form 
by Erwin Panofsky, translated by Christoper Wood.
Zone, 196 pp., £20.50, January 1992, 0 942299 52 3
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The Language of Art History 
edited by Salim Kemal and Ivan Gaskell.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £32.50, December 1991, 9780521353847
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... a fairly pallid discipline. His is a rich and stimulating book, and we are all in the debt of Christopher Wood and Zone Books. I cannot say the same for the rather inaccurately named Language of Art History, which is merely an anthology of philosophical writings on art, together with an example, certainly admirable, by Richard Schiff of what Michael ...


Peter Campbell, 18 March 1982

The Pre-Raphaelites 
by Christopher Wood.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £18, October 1981, 0 297 78007 7
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The Diary of Ford Madox Brown 
edited by Virginia Surtees.
Yale, 237 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 300 02743 5
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Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 09 463740 7
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... to notice such things’ would have become a bore if he had insisted on noticing everything. Christopher Wood’s glamorous and glowing picture book (Pre-Raphaelite pictures seem to suit Japanese printers) offers useful information about the extended Pre-Raphaelite team he presents. He favours the every-dog-will-have-his-day attitude to Victorian ...

This Strange Speech

Christopher S. Wood: Early Dürer, 18 July 2013

The Early Dürer 
edited by Daniel Hess and Thomas Eser, translated by Lance Anderson et al.
Thames and Hudson, 604 pp., £40, August 2012, 978 0 500 97037 9
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... I have plenty of good friends among the Italians who warn me not to eat and drink with their painters. Many of the painters are my enemies, and they copy my work in the churches and wherever else they can find it. Then they criticise it, saying it is not in the ‘antique’ style and therefore not good. But Giovanni Bellini praised me highly in front of some gentlemen ...

At the Party

Christopher Hitchens, 17 April 1986

Hollywood Babylon II 
by Kenneth Anger.
Arrow, 323 pp., £5.95, January 1986, 0 09 945110 7
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Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan 
by Robin Wood.
Columbia, 336 pp., $25, October 1985, 0 231 05776 8
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... destroying everything now I’ve lived my life for.’ And what was that, exactly? Robin Wood’s book doesn’t live up to the very limited terms of its title, which must have been imposed upon it (since neither Reagan nor Vietnam appear even in the index) by a publisher worried about lack of market appeal. There could be no bolder contrast with ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Prestige’, 14 December 2006

The Prestige 
directed by Christopher Nolan.
October 2006
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... In Christopher Nolan’s movies men are always losing their minds: to revenge and an old phobia in Batman Begins; to a clinical condition in Insomnia; to the vagaries of a crippled short-term memory in Memento. The hero of this last film can drive a car and kill people, remember how his dead wife looked and what she said; but he doesn’t know where he is at any given moment, or why he is there, or what he said a few minutes before ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Dark Knight’ , 14 August 2008

The Dark Knight 
directed by Christopher Nolan.
July 2008
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... play of that name. Galileo wasn’t thinking of superheroes, of course, but Jonathan and Christopher Nolan, the writers of The Dark Knight, the new Batman movie, are certainly thinking along Galileo’s lines. What is Gotham City to do without a hero, since organised crime is always, it seems, far too much for the official institutions of law and ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Dunkirk’, 17 August 2017

... Christopher Nolan​ ’s Dunkirk is worth watching for its final sequence alone. The three stories being told throughout the film intersect rapidly, and no easy solution or reflection results. A young man walks into a newspaper office in Weymouth and hands over a school photograph, pointing out one boy. A Spitfire prepares to land on a French beach, gliding, its propeller still, because it has run out of fuel ...

Tiff and Dither

Michael Wood, 2 January 1997

Diaries. Vol. I: 1939-60 
by Christopher Isherwood, edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Methuen, 1048 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 413 69680 4
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... make art out of self-effacement. This at least is one of the suggestions of the first volume of Christopher Isherwood’s Diaries, a whingeing, inward-bound mammoth of a book, where the author laboriously chronicles and inspects his every moment for changes in the moral and spiritual weather. Well, it can’t be his every moment, but it feels like it. Here ...

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