Shaka King’s​ Judas and the Black Messiah (available on Amazon Prime) leaves us in no doubt as to who is the more interesting character. This preference is obscured (or perhaps...

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This world of pattern and texture, which Tom Harris spent his career tracing, is as natural to humans as it is to plants. We can find it by rubbing our eyes, in the phosphenes flashing against our eyelids,...

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Aboutness: Bosch in Paradise

T.J. Clark, 1 April 2021

It would be horrible – ludicrous – to be solemn about Bosch, one of whose lessons is that Doom is a comedy; and whose picture of Utopia (heaven on earth, the pursuit of happiness) is of weightless,...

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Yeah, that was cool: ‘Rave’

Harry Strawson, 1 April 2021

Rainald Goetz isn’t much interested in telling tales of hedonistic excess. He’s not above name­dropping, showing off about the DJs he was friends with and the cool clubs he went to, but...

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For Roland Barthes, the Encyclopédie’s peaceful scenes and ordered arrangements of objects, materials and tools conceal a violence, a ‘wild surrealism’ that, whether we want it...

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Lee Daniels’s​ The United States v. Billie Holiday (on Sky Cinema) hesitates a little about what kind of movie it is. Is it about the war on drugs, with Holiday’s career as an...

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Silence is survival: there’s a thin line, as The Wiz illustrates, between exuberant shouts and terrified screams. When Diana Ross sings the words ‘happy ending’ in ‘Is This What...

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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...

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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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At the National Gallery: Artemisia

Clare Bucknell, 4 March 2021

Artemisia Gentileschi, who understood – and relied on – the fact that male collectors were liable to see her face and body behind each Judith, Cleopatra or Susannah, was no stranger to playing...

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Blowing religious buildings up was appealing to the Bolsheviks, but so was protecting them as symbols of national heritage and pride; or preserving them while transforming their use and meaning, turning...

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At the Movies: ‘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...

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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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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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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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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 British Museum: Tantra

James Butler, 21 January 2021

It began​ with the beheading of a god. In a dispute over theological primacy, Brahma – traditionally identified as the creator – insulted Shiva. The offended deity poured all his...

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