Arts & Culture

Portrait of Walter Serner Christian Schad (1916)

Rasta for Dada

Hal Foster

22 October 2020

Dada invited outrage – its primary aim was to shock people out of aesthetic complacency – and to this day many art lovers dismiss Duchamp and company as so much blague. But Walter Serner ups the ante greatly: in Last Loosening fraudulence haunts modern society as a whole, not just the arts, and everyone must play the game or lose. From his perspective Dada didn’t end; rather, it exposed a cynicism that had spread (yes, like a virus) everywhere.

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‘Enola Holmes’

Michael Wood

22 October 2020

It’s​ not the main function of great fictional characters to provide platforms for the careers of others, but they do the job very well. In a new film, Sherlock Holmes walks into Inspector . . .

At the Shrink

Janique Vigier

22 October 2020

In​ the spring of 1972, the poet Bernadette Mayer began to keep a journal for her analyst, David Rubinfine, whose patients included Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins, and who was notorious for having . . .

Goldfish are my homies

John Lahr

22 October 2020

Isurround myself​ with fish: the brown and white aboriginal angel fish in my bathroom, the carved turquoise and yellow Zuni salmon in my study, trout decoys in the conservatory, at the bottom of . . .

The Tennis Craze

Jon Day

8 October 2020

You​ can divide most sports into those that take place in the real world (road cycling, sailing, cross country running) and those that are played on the artificial space of a court or pitch. Some . . .

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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The idea of dismantling such an intricate historical building, transporting it across the ocean and recreating it in an institution may seem anachronistic, even reckless. But the architectural ethos behind...

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Strange Apprentice

T.J. Clark, 8 October 2020

The coming together of Cézanne and Pissarro – their common cause, their peaceful co­existence, their rivalry, their contrariety – is a mystery. For me it is the deepest mystery of...

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It’s not that Ken Burns’s documentaries are as conservative formally as they end up being politically. It’s that, inadvertently, the two end up being one and the same. If you’re...

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From 1931 until the outbreak of war, Hampstead was the home of an emerging progressivism in art – not quite radical, a little domestic in fact, and also in thrall to the bolder experiments taking...

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I’m being a singer: Dandy Highwaymen

Andrew O’Hagan, 8 October 2020

What was this nonsense all about? What about Marc Almond’s ‘Sex Dwarf’? What happened to the youth-club boys in their mothers’ ruffled blouses tottering around in heels and shouting...

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Short Cuts: Woke Conspiracies

William Davies, 24 September 2020

A British equivalent of Fox News, wherever it may come from, would have its own distinctive character – less evangelism and more Elgar, fewer guns and more poppies – but the commercial and...

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The meanings​ of its title sit a little heavily on I’m Thinking of Ending Things, originally a novel by Iain Reid, which Charlie Kaufman has now adapted as a movie (on Netflix). Out of...

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At Tate Britain: Aubrey Beardsley

Rosemary Hill, 24 September 2020

‘I represent things as I see them,’ Aubrey Beardsley said, ‘outlined faintly in thin streaks (just like me).’ Beardsley, who died at 25, passed his brief life in the...

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At Saint-Germain-des-Prés: Flandrin’s Murals

Nicholas Penny, 10 September 2020

Hippolyte Flandrin was the most interesting, and perhaps the most uncompromising, of Ingres’s students. Like Ingres, he worked as a portrait painter, but he devoted most of his career...

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Virtuosa: Sofonisba Anguissola

Caroline Campbell, 10 September 2020

On the face of it, Sofonisba’s range is extremely restricted. There is little beyond portraiture, and only four works that are not connected to direct observation. Almost all her known paintings...

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Vorsprung durch Techno

Ian Penman, 10 September 2020

The young Americans who heard something in Kraftwerk didn’t identify with the moneyed ease and ruffled shirtfronts of mainstream disco, or see any kind of career in old-school supper-club soul. In...

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‘The new art is really a business,’ Warhol said in 1969. ‘We want to sell shares of our company on the Wall Street stock market.’ This didn’t endear him to some. ‘You’re...

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Art Lessons

Peter Campbell, 13 August 2020

If a botanist or architect had taken the pictures she might have been noticing kinds of plant and kinds of building. I was more interested in the way the world offers itself up as a series of ready-made...

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At the Movies: ‘The Truth’

Michael Wood, 13 August 2020

Hirokazu​ kore-eda’s film The Truth, released in France in January and now available online, feels like a respectable weepie, a mother and daughter story, except that it keeps being...

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Diary: Getting into Esports

John Lanchester, 13 August 2020

One afternoon I watched twenty minutes or so of esports car racing, fell asleep, and then wandered off to do something else. I came back a couple of hours later and turned the telly back on to see if the...

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No flourish was too much: Out-Tissoted

Bridget Alsdorf, 13 August 2020

For the French, Tissot was too English. For the English, he was too ‘vulgar’, which was just another way of saying he was too French. Neither liked his determination not to pick a side.

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At Oberlin: Eva Hesse

Anne Wagner, 30 July 2020

The idea of negation was central to the tensions Eva Hesse created and mediated in her sculptures. One of her favourite descriptions of them was ‘chaos structured as non-chaos’: it captures...

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On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs, 16 July 2020

When I look at Dorothea Lange’s daughter-in-law sleeping, I remember that the US is the only OECD country where women have no right to paid maternity leave, and when I look at the child sleeping...

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