Arts & Culture

Paul Graham’s photo­graph of the view northwards from the Newcastle bypass at Tyne and Wear.

On the A1

Andrew O’Hagan

4 March 2021

‘The road is a no man’s land on the edge of society,’ Rupert Martin wrote in 1983, introducing Paul Graham’s photo­graphs of the A1, ‘and its inhabitants...

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Open in a Scream

Colm Tóibín

4 March 2021

Since Bacon was known for his tangled personal life, his gambling, his drinking and the chaos of his studio, with the stories of his sexual habits and ghastly Irish childhood in circulation, something . . .


Clare Bucknell

4 March 2021

Light​ falls on the side of a woman’s upturned face, travels over her right shoulder and forearm and then down to her thigh and knee. The limbs are dense and opaque, the solid curve of the . . .

‘One Night in Miami’

Michael Wood

18 February 2021

There​ is plenty of angry talk in Regina King’s One Night in Miami – available on Amazon Prime and adapted from Kemp Powers’s play – but the cruellest remark is very discreet . . .

Prokudin-Gorsky’s Postcards

Miriam Dobson

18 February 2021

In​ the decade or so before the revolutions of 1917, the photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky crisscrossed the Russian empire on its growing network of railways. He visited the medieval towns of Yaroslavl . . .

Picasso and Tragedy

T.J. Clark, 17 August 2017

Perhaps, then – though the thought is a grim one – we turn to Guernica with a kind of nostalgia. Suffering and horror were once this large. They were dreadful, but they had a tragic dimension.

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Ian Penman, 2 July 2015

Sinatra’s sexual charge was like his song: underplayed, tinged with unflappable cool picked up second-hand in the shady cloisters of jazz.

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Is Wagner bad for us?

Nicholas Spice, 11 April 2013

Wagner’s work is everywhere preoccupied with boundaries set and overstepped, limits reached and exceeded.

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At the End of My Pencil

Bridget Riley, 8 October 2009

As I drew, things began to change. Quite suddenly something was happening down there on the paper that I had not anticipated. I continued, I went on drawing; I pushed ahead, both intuitively and consciously. The squares began to lose their original form.

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It’s a playground: Kiarostami et Compagnie

Gilberto Perez, 27 June 2002

A photograph of Abbas Kiarostami in Hamid Dabashi’s book shows him crouching over a frying pan that has two eggs in it. Beside him, and like him focused on the eggs, is the original movie camera invented by Lumière.

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That Wooden Leg: Conversations with Don Luis

Michael Wood, 7 September 2000

‘Studio Vingt-Huit – high up a winding street of Montmartre, in the full blasphemy of a freezing Sunday; taxis arriving, friends greeting each other, an excitable afternoon...

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Noovs’ hoovs in the trough

Angela Carter, 24 January 1985

‘Be modern – worship food,’ exhorts the cover of The Official Foodie Handbook. One of the ironies resulting from the North/South dichotomy of our planet is the appearance of this...

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The Raphael Question

Lawrence Gowing, 15 March 1984

When I used to give a survey course for first-year students, I dreaded December. That was when I reached the High Renaissance and my audience fell away. It was not only the alternative seasonable...

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Dressing and Undressing

Anita Brookner, 15 April 1982

Fashion,​ according to Baudelaire, is a moral affair. It is, more specifically, the obligation laid upon a woman to transform herself, outwardly and visibly, into a work of art, or, at the very...

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Motorised Youth Rebellion: Radical LA

Andy Beckett, 18 February 2021

A typical headline in the Los Angeles Times read: HIPPIES BLAMED FOR DECLINE OF THE SUNSET STRIP. Yet in the longer term the teenagers won a partial victory. As the bands that played on the Strip...

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The Rio group’s photographs engage with their subjects, who aren’t documented but rather are in dialogue with the camera, active participants in the cultural and political life around them....

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In​ the opening scene of his television series Civilisation (1969), Kenneth Clark admits that while he can’t define exactly what civilisation is, he knows it when he sees it. The camera...

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The Phonic and the Phoney: Being Hans Keller

Nicholas Spice, 4 February 2021

The source of Keller’s energy and drive was what he called ‘musical truth’, the revelation of a metaphysical reality deeper than anything accessible to other art forms. Like the aficionados...

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At the British Museum: Tantra

James Butler, 21 January 2021

Tantra isn’t a religion, but it profoundly transformed two major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. It isn’t about sex, but it’s shot through with sexuality. Its practitioners range from...

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The Masks of Doom

Niela Orr, 21 January 2021

Some of us followed Doom because we thought we were too cool for David Blaine. Doom’s tricks were breath control, intricate rhyme schemes, a beating heart beneath the cold veneer, of which he gave...

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At the Movies: ‘Mank’

Michael Wood, 21 January 2021

Much​ of what Pauline Kael had to say in ‘Raising Kane’ (1971), her long article in the New Yorker, got lost in the controversy it created. One of her aims was to draw attention to...

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We want our Mars Bars! Arsène Who?

Will Frears, 7 January 2021

The football played in England today – the speed, the spectacle, the insane athleticism, the obsession with the distance a player has run, the Gegenpressing, the stats, Pep, Klopp, Mo Salah, Kevin...

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Smith wasn’t the first to notice that the layers in the pits were predictable in their order; miners had long used the rock formations as wayfinders. They had names for the various types of exposed...

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Beethoven was everything at once – impatient, brave, long-suffering, petty, short-tempered, honest, generous to his friends, cruel to his family, ductile and intractable, worldly and deeply innocent....

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On the Sofa: ‘Small Axe’

Yohann Koshy, 7 January 2021

The poet​ Linton Kwesi Johnson calls the first two generations of Caribbean people in postwar Britain the ‘heroic’ generation and the ‘rebel’ generation. The Windrush...

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What interested Rembrandt and his contemporaries, as it interests those attempting to reconcile the archival record of historical black Amsterdam with its visual remains, was the ways in which artists...

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At BAMPFA: Rosie Lee Tompkins

Julia Bryan-Wilson, 17 December 2020

Rosie Lee Tompkins’s work is attuned to all the nuances of race, gender and class that fabric can signify. Synthetic calico is set next to a Mexican serape poncho which is placed next to an Indian...

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Shaggy Horse Story: Fabulising about Form

Julian Bell, 17 December 2020

There’s a shaggy horse drawn in charcoal 13,000 years ago on a wall of the Niaux cave in Southern France, and every frisky hatching looks as though it could have been set down yesterday by a student...

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Short Cuts: Diego! Diego!

Thomas Jones, 17 December 2020

Maradona was under no illusions about football’s symbolic power, or its limits. He couldn’t solve anyone’s problems, least of all his own. But, for ninety minutes at a time, he could...

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Diary: Painting in the Dark

Celia Paul, 17 December 2020

Perhaps the great women artists are noct­urnal creatures who prefer to create freely in the darkness. In this way, too, they avoid being referred to as ‘one of these neurotics’. Perhaps...

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At the Movies: Marlene Dietrich

Michael Wood, 17 December 2020

When we think of Marlene Dietrich’s films, innocence is not the first word that comes to mind. But there is something unmarked about her persona, as if the ironic wisdom her characters often express...

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At MoMA: Félix Fénéon

Hal Foster, 3 December 2020

Like the pictures that Fénéon most admired, his texts aim to be ‘self-governing’ – like communes, we are prompted to think. This autonomy takes nothing away from the singularity...

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