At the Barbican: 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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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,...

Read More

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...

Read More

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,...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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....

Read More