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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At the Movies: ‘Mank’

Michael Wood, 21 January 2021

Much​ of what Pauline Kael had to say in ‘Raising Kane’ (1971), her long article in the New Yorker, got lost in the controversy it created. One of her aims was to draw attention to...

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We want our Mars Bars! Arsène Who?

Will Frears, 7 January 2021

The football played in England today – the speed, the spectacle, the insane athleticism, the obsession with the distance a player has run, the Gegenpressing, the stats, Pep, Klopp, Mo Salah, Kevin...

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What interested Rembrandt and his contemporaries, as it interests those attempting to reconcile the archival record of historical black Amsterdam with its visual remains, was the ways in which artists...

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On the Sofa: ‘Small Axe’

Yohann Koshy, 7 January 2021

The poet​ Linton Kwesi Johnson calls the first two generations of Caribbean people in postwar Britain the ‘heroic’ generation and the ‘rebel’ generation. The Windrush...

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Beethoven was everything at once – impatient, brave, long-suffering, petty, short-tempered, honest, generous to his friends, cruel to his family, ductile and intractable, worldly and deeply innocent....

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Smith wasn’t the first to notice that the layers in the pits were predictable in their order; miners had long used the rock formations as wayfinders. They had names for the various types of exposed...

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At BAMPFA: Rosie Lee Tompkins

Julia Bryan-Wilson, 17 December 2020

Rosie Lee Tompkins’s work is attuned to all the nuances of race, gender and class that fabric can signify. Synthetic calico is set next to a Mexican serape poncho which is placed next to an Indian...

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Shaggy Horse Story: Fabulising about Form

Julian Bell, 17 December 2020

There’s a shaggy horse drawn in charcoal 13,000 years ago on a wall of the Niaux cave in Southern France, and every frisky hatching looks as though it could have been set down yesterday by a student...

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Short Cuts: Diego! Diego!

Thomas Jones, 17 December 2020

Maradona was under no illusions about football’s symbolic power, or its limits. He couldn’t solve anyone’s problems, least of all his own. But, for ninety minutes at a time, he could...

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Diary: Painting in the Dark

Celia Paul, 17 December 2020

Perhaps the great women artists are noct­urnal creatures who prefer to create freely in the darkness. In this way, too, they avoid being referred to as ‘one of these neurotics’. Perhaps...

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At the Movies: Marlene Dietrich

Michael Wood, 17 December 2020

When we think of Marlene Dietrich’s films, innocence is not the first word that comes to mind. But there is something unmarked about her persona, as if the ironic wisdom her characters often express...

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At MoMA: Félix Fénéon

Hal Foster, 3 December 2020

Like the pictures that Fénéon most admired, his texts aim to be ‘self-governing’ – like communes, we are prompted to think. This autonomy takes nothing away from the singularity...

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Antique Tears: Consumptive Chic

Kate Retford, 3 December 2020

Thin, skimpy dresses left women cold and more susceptible to illness (flu was ‘muslin disease’), perhaps even to consumption, which was believed to bring women to the peak of beauty before...

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At the Movies: ‘Time’

Michael Wood, 19 November 2020

It’s​ an old narrative device and a very effective one: to provide the day or month without mentioning the year. Garrett Bradley’s new feature-length documentary, Time (on Amazon...

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Clare Bucknell, 19 November 2020

In​ 1660, a Commonwealth warship called HMS Naseby sailed to the Dutch Republic to bring the new king-in-waiting home to England. During its journey the ship was renamed the Royal Charles in...

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At the Pace Gallery: Trevor Paglen

Daniel Soar, 19 November 2020

Trevor Paglen’s works are information sublimated: the learning they represent could be conveyed in words – thousands of them – but as images they’re wired direct to the brain.

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Diary: Alone in Venice

Colm Tóibín, 19 November 2020

Suddenly,​ there was nothing to complain about. No cruise ships went up the Giudecca Canal. There were no tourists clogging up the narrow streets. Piazza San Marco was often completely deserted....

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