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Arts & Culture

Still from Arkansas movie

‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

4 June 2020

Many​ new films have deferred release dates, and cinemas keep reminding us to watch at home the films they can’t show. ‘The olden days,’ Anthony Lane said in a recent, very...

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Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

4 June 2020

When​ in 2010 a group of Old Testament paintings by Francisco de Zurbarán were offered for private sale it came as something of a surprise. The owner couldn’t be blamed for failing to . . .

Archigram’s Ghost

Jonathan Meades

21 May 2020

Archigram was an out-of-hours architectural band of six men – Peter Cook, Warren Chalk, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton, Michael Webb and David Greene – whose day jobs were with big commercial . . .

Edward James’s Sculpture Garden

Mike Jay

21 May 2020

Edward James​ was charming, eccentric, generous and immensely wealthy. For most of his life, his greatest talent was placing himself in interesting situations, often having used his wealth to make . . .

Internet Speak

Lauren Oyler

7 May 2020

Every day​ I write to friends, acquaintances, colleagues and strangers using most or all the following media: Gmail, Google Hangouts, Twitter, Instagram, iMessage and WhatsApp. A message sent through . . .

Picasso and Tragedy

T.J. Clark, 16 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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Swoonatra

Ian Penman, 1 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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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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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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‘Linderism’

Brian Dillon, 7 May 2020

On​ 5 November 1982, the post-punk group Ludus played a gig at the Haçienda, the Manchester club run by Factory Records and best known today for its association with New Order and the...

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Asmartly​ dressed man, wearing suit, tie and hat in the 1920s fashion, walks towards us along a New York street, accompanied by a stylish woman. Suddenly, he is flat on his back. He gets up,...

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The Ghent Altarpiece

Julian Bell, 16 April 2020

The lush heaviness into which your eyes sink suggests that whatever breathes or glistens or crinkles – clouds, foliage, faces, cloaks, jewels, metalware and stone – has been stroked and befriended...

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At the Royal Academy: Léon Spilliaert

John-Paul Stonard, 16 April 2020

Léon Spilliaert's ghostly works seem to have more in common with Chinese ink painting than with the art of fin-de-siècle Belgium. There is life in the ordinary objects Spilliaert paints –...

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In​ Aeschylus’ Oresteia, and in the myth he was staging, the Furies that drove vengeance and justice are appeased, and converted into the so-called Kindly Ones. Pier Paolo Pasolini...

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What did Lucian Freud know about pregnancy? Not very much, perhaps. But he did know about sex. The expression on Kitty’s face is not dissimilar to that of an animal before mating.

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Secrets are like sex

Neal Ascherson, 2 April 2020

Like sturgeons and swans in medieval England, public information began as royal property. Today, we understand more vividly than ever before that information is also a commodity: I have it, you don’t;...

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Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison, 2 April 2020

In Petipa’s works, the ballerina is as abstract as Goethe’s Eternal Feminine. His heroines, as Alastair Macaulay writes, are advocates of traditional values who ‘live only for marriage...

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Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes, 2 April 2020

For one so sensitive and so irritable, reviewing the Salon must have been a secular martyrdom. The 1879 Salon was ‘a heap of crackbrained nonsense’: of its 3040 pictures ‘not a hundred...

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Françoise Gilot

Lili Owen Rowlands, 19 March 2020

He painted her hair as a green, swooping bun that sat on the side of her head like a leaf. ‘We’re all animals, more or less,’ Picasso explained, but she belonged to the plant kingdom.

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The BBC on the Rack

James Butler, 19 March 2020

A post-broadcast era need not be a post-democratic one; an increasingly plural public sphere could be a resource as much as a threat. The BBC’s hegemony in Britain affords it opportunities to...

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Ubu Jarry

Hal Foster, 19 March 2020

What happens when a travesty of authority becomes a template for power, when Dada sets up in the White House or at 10 Downing Street?

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At​ a recent event at the National Gallery in Washington, the painter Oliver Lee Jackson recalled hearing Charlie Parker and Max Roach play at nightclubs in the 1950s. Jackson, who was born in...

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John Boorman’s Quiet Ending

David Thomson, 20 February 2020

We’re not​ dealing with an ordinary man, or a conformist. There he is in the abandoned shell of Fort Point in San Francisco, this fierce and frightened man, looking like Lee Marvin. The...

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Alice​ Paalen Rahon was a shape-shifter par excellence, who casually changed her date and place of birth (1904 in Besançon, not 1916 in Brittany), her name and nationality, sexual...

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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...

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‘Cosmo’ for Capitalists

Stefan Collini, 6 February 2020

It may be satisfying, though it isn’t terribly surprising, to find that the Economist has mostly come down on the side of capital in the major political conflicts of the past. More interesting would...

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‘Parasite’

Michael Wood, 6 February 2020

The theme of social ascent, or social difference as a landscape, could hardly be more obvious, but we are beginning to get the movie’s idea: not to avoid stereotypes but to keep crashing into them.

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