Arts & Culture

‘The Football Match’ by William Heysman Overend, 1890.

Getting away with it

John Lanchester

29 July 2021

Of the very, very many things that make fans cross, nothing makes them crosser than penalties and sendings-off induced by simulation. We all know what it looks like: the faintest contact with a defender sending the grizzled pro to writhe in agony on the pitch, one eye on the referee, the other on next year’s Oscars. 

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On the Bus

Andrew O’Hagan

29 July 2021

On London buses, the passengers no longer speak to one another. They speak on their phone, often using a different sort of voice. Most are silent behind their masks. Only the gangs of school kids offer . . .

Tallis Survives

Peter Phillips

29 July 2021

On​ 30 January 1540 the monks of Evesham Abbey were singing the Magnificat when messengers from the king interrupted them. ‘The monastery of Evesham was suppressed by King Henry VIII … . . .

Diana of the Upper Air

Lavinia Greenlaw

29 July 2021

For​ a short while the highest point of the New York skyline was marked by a girl standing on tiptoe. At night she was also the brightest point, the focus of 66 incandescent lamps and ten spotlights . . .

Jean Dubuffet

T.J. Clark

29 July 2021

Afew​ weeks ago, I came across a young poet saying that the book he had been turning to during Covid was Francis Ponge’s Le Parti Pris des choses. (Siding with Things, the translation of the . . .

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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Leave me my illusions: Antiquarianism

Nicholas Penny, 29 July 2021

Moonlight on broken stone tracery is a common motif; dark interiors provide a foil for stained glass and for white satin and deep blue velvet. The men must be away on the crusades. Young women are sobbing...

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If​ you don’t especially like car crashes, exploding buildings and the overuse of assault weapons, you may want to stay away from the cinema for a while. Well, you could have started to...

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True Bromance: Ravi Shankar’s Ragas

Philip Clark, 15 July 2021

The rules stated which notes needed to be emphasised; the stress on certain notes locked others out of the design, thus creating the melodic shapes that gave each raga its personality. In performance,...

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Thomas Becket​ was not the first archbishop of Canterbury to meet a violent end – Archbishop Alphege was killed by Vikings in 1012 – but he was unique in other ways. Unlike his...

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Short Cuts: Nautical Dramas

Jeremy Harding, 15 July 2021

One​ of the most seductive items for sale on the website of Arthur Beale, yacht chandler, is a ‘chart work pack’ for just under thirty quid. It includes an elegant course plotter,...

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At Charleston: Nina Hamnett

Emily LaBarge, 1 July 2021

A sense of interiority and self-possession is common to all Nina Hamnett’s portraits: they hold the viewer at a distance. Like her still lifes, they are anti-mimetic, creating the impression...

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At the Whitechapel: Eileen Agar

Francesca Wade, 17 June 2021

Odd choices and uncanny juxtapositions demonstrate  Eileen Agar’s eye for the incongruous: the artfully placed leaf, the splodge of a wax seal, a snakeskin frame. Agar’s work is an invitation...

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Four Moptop Yobbos

Ian Penman, 17 June 2021

Even on the lip of apocalypse, might the Beatles remain one of the last things we can all agree on? Are they the no man’s land on Christmas Day, where both sides might pause, put down their weapons...

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At the Movies: ‘Mandabi’

Michael Wood, 17 June 2021

Ousmane​ Sembène’s Mandabi (1968), now available in a restored print, was the first full-length feature film whose characters speak an African language. Small bits of French...

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At the Hayward: Matthew​ Barney

Freddie Mason, 17 June 2021

Matthew​ Barney is back. It’s been ten years since his last exhibition in London, and his new show at the Hayward opens with an unapologetic display of phallocentrism. It’s a...

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How peculiar it is: Gorey’s Glories

Rosemary Hill, 3 June 2021

Edward Gorey’s imagery is in debt to the Surrealists, and, at times, in its use of line, to Aubrey Beardsley, but insofar as Gorey belongs to a genre it is the Romantic picturesque with its mood...

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In the Studio: Howard Hodgkin

Rye Dag Holmboe, 3 June 2021

Howard Hodgkin unapologetically propagated the idea of the studio as a sacred site. In a way, his decision to conceal paintings in progress with linen canvases contributed to this, as did his reluctance...

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Coloured marble can be veined, streaked, clouded, mottled, or it could be a breccia – that is, with irregular, sometimes jagged, inclusions. The Mount Athos enkolpion is of breccia corallina. The...

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At the Movies: ‘Nomadland’

Michael Wood, 20 May 2021

The​ first thing that dies in Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland (which will be in cinemas from 17 May) is a town called Empire, in Nevada. The life-supporting sheetrock plant shuts down, the...

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At the V&A: ‘Bags: Inside Out’

Susannah Clapp, 20 May 2021

The quickest way to signal middle-aged female distress on stage is to show a woman rummaging frantically in a bag. Irritating though this is, there is some truth in it. Losing something in your bag is...

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At the Half

Andrew O’Hagan, 20 May 2021

Mark Rylance’s gaze suggests he’s an actor who, at the half, is more than halfway into character, already unto the breach, where ‘all the youth of England are on fire.’ There are...

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Mon cher Monsieur: Prove your Frenchness

Julian Barnes, 22 April 2021

In the 1930s many of the elite Jewish families donated their houses and collect­ions to the French state. It was as if they were saying: we are French, and we leave our greatest treas­ures to France....

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Drama of the Gowns

Lisa Cohen, 22 April 2021

Claire Wilcox becomes ‘absorbed in the fabrics and the stitching and embroidery, respectful of the drama of the gowns, the mastery of soft leather, the button-holing and the beading’. Patch...

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