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Here/Not Here

Wendy Steiner

4 July 1996
... scar. How can the celebrity outsider maintain a sense of his identity, or painterly authority, when he is his own subject-matter and his audience sees that subject-matter as ‘other’, less than ‘us’? Basquiat’s solutions to this dilemma are often brilliant. In the triptych Zydeco (1984), for example, a cinematographer in profile looks through the lens of his movie camera ...

Back to Life

Christopher Benfey: Rothko’s Moment

20 May 2015
Mark Rothko: Towards the Light in the Chapel 
by Annie Cohen-Solal.
Yale, 296 pp., £18.99, February 2015, 978 0 300 18204 0
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... he staged his paintings. ‘We were surprised to learn that his suicide was so ritualistic,’ Robert Motherwell said. For me, and I imagine for many others then as now, Rothko just was his paintings – paintings that seemed, when we stood before them spellbound, to be our shifting moods themselves. It is with some trepidation that one opens a new ...

Love and Hate, Girl and Boy

Juliet Mitchell: Louise Bourgeois

6 November 2014
... Louise encouraged him. She helped with the visa and said that he could come to live with her, Robert and their children. Pierre sold his maternal inheritance – a garage in Clamart – and with the money booked his passage from France to the US. But Louise balked, and asked their father to stop Pierre leaving, without letting Pierre know she had ...

Leave-Taking

Peter Wollen: Baader Meinhof Studies

5 April 2001
Gerhard Richter: ‘October 18, 1977’ 
edited by Robert Storr.
Museum of Modern Art, 151 pp., £30, November 2000, 0 87070 023 5
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... In June 1995, the Museum of Modern Art in New York announced that it had acquired a series of 15 paintings by the German artist Gerhard Richter, collectively entitled October 18, 1977. At 11 p.m. on 17 October, the prison officer in charge of the four prisoners on the seventh floor of the high-security wing of Stammheim prison in Stuttgart had noted in his night duty report: ‘23 ...

Goodness me

Mary-Kay Wilmers

26 October 1989
Margaret, Daughter of Beatrice: A Politician’s Psycho-Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Leo Abse.
Cape, 288 pp., £13.95, September 1989, 0 224 02726 3
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... Mrs Thatcher, like Hedda Gabler, thinks of herself as her father’s daughter. For a hero, Alderman Roberts may be lacking in style. ‘A cautious, thrifty fellow’ is how Hugo Young describes him and it’s easy to tell he isn’t impressed. But Alfred Roberts was an imposing figure in Grantham and his businesses worked at a time when a great many failed ...

Who whom?

Christopher Ricks

6 June 1985
The English Language Today 
edited by Sidney Greenbaum.
Pergamon, 345 pp., £12.50, December 1984, 0 08 031078 8
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The English Language 
by Robert Burchfield.
Oxford, 194 pp., £9.50, January 1985, 9780192191731
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A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language 
by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik.
Longman, 1779 pp., £39.50, May 1985, 0 582 51734 6
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Words 
by John Silverlight.
Macmillan, 107 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 9780333380109
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Faux Amis and Key Words: A Dictionary-Guide to French Language, Culture and Society through Lookalikes and Confusables 
by Philip Thody, Howard Evans and Gwilym Rees.
Athlone, 224 pp., £16, February 1985, 0 485 11243 4
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Puns 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 631 13793 9
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Fair of Speech: The Uses of Euphemism 
edited by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 222 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 19 212236 3
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... of panoptic logocrats? ‘Who whom?’ is famously a political as well as a linguistic question. Robert Burchfield in his deft and delightful book still hopes that it is possible to be a true liberal (that is, only wishy and not washy), so he says that ‘the formal distinction ... is breaking up but should be maintained where possible.’ (Would it really ...

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