Arts & Culture

Ink drawing by Rolanda Polonsky.

The Last Asylums

Clair Wills

18 November 2021

I am haunted by the figure of Rolanda Polonsky, walking through the hospital corridors. If my eight-year-old self had opened the doors that frightened me I might have found her, back then, exactly as she is now in the film I watch on my laptop. And it appears to me now that that’s why I was fearful: I didn’t want to hear the message she had for me.

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‘The Making of Rodin’

Richard Taws

18 November 2021

Many​ of the works in The Making of Rodin, currently on show at Tate Modern (until 21 November), are displayed on what look like the packing cases in which they arrived. A notice on the wall tells . . .

‘Last Night In Soho’

Michael Wood

18 November 2021

Ghosts​ and time travel don’t usually mix. In the one case, they visit us; in the other, we visit them. In Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, both things happen simultaneously. There . . .

Media Theranos

Pooja Bhatia

23 October 2021

Ben Smith’s story in the New York Times about the attempted fraud dealt a severe blow, but Ozy Media wouldn’t have died so swiftly if it hadn’t been for the torrent of follow-up . . .

Nochlin’s Question

Jo Applin

4 November 2021

‘Feminist art history is there to make trouble,’ Linda Nochlin once wrote. The hagiographic preservation of a debate about ‘greatness’ now fifty years old seems an odd way of doing . . .

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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At the Hunterian: Joan Eardley gets her due

Andrew O’Hagan, 4 November 2021

Joan Eardley’s paintings show decrepit buildings and startled faces, but also something more essential – movement, stillness. We see the spirit of young lives caught in meagre surroundings,...

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Fetch the Chopping Knife: Murder on Bankside

Charles Nicholl, 4 November 2021

The first true crime craze – the distant antecedent of our own docu-drama craze – proved to be an essentially Elizabethan phenomenon. I would place its high-water mark in the year 1599, when...

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Craxton liked small jokes, hiding the date of a painting in the label on a bottle of beer, or turning his signature into part of the pattern on a cigarette packet. His art had become a quest for colour,...

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Amerikanist Dreams

Owen Hatherley, 21 October 2021

Constructivists and other avant-gardists found high architecture in the US – those skylines of cupolas and Gothic spires, draped over steel skeletons – gauche and illiterate, especially compared...

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At the Movies: ‘No Time to Die’

Michael Wood, 21 October 2021

The​ new Bond film, No Time to Die, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, begins inside a memory and ends with a kind of apocalypse. Sound familiar? Not really. Memory has never been a prominent theme...

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At Sadie Coles: Helen Marten

Brian Dillon, 21 October 2021

‘There is something interesting to be said for everything around us,’ Charles Schulz’s Linus says in a Peanuts-derived commercial for Weber’s bread, first broadcast in the...

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Unknowables: Antonello da Messina

Caroline Campbell, 7 October 2021

St Jerome sits reading at his desk on an elevated podium; other books and artefacts line the shelves around him. The architecture is lofty, gothic and fantastical. Framing the scene is a stone archway...

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A Little Holiday: Ben Hecht’s Cause

Geoffrey Wheatcroft, 23 September 2021

Although Hollywood had a Jewish drama of its own, Jewishness wasn’t openly expressed and Jewish themes were neither the subjects nor the subplots of films. Success couldn’t buy you access to...

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At the Movies: ‘Annette’

Michael Wood, 23 September 2021

Songs​ by Sparks (or the Mael brothers) include ‘When You’re a French Director’, ‘Edith Piaf Said It Better Than Me’, ‘Angst in My Pants’, ‘Life...

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Learned Behaviour

Luke Jennings, 23 September 2021

There are few more exuberantly beautiful spectacles than the Royal Ballet’s dancers in flight. They describe their sense of comradeship, the joy they take in their work, the ideals they share. But...

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On Orford Ness: ‘Afterness’

Sam Kinchin-Smith, 23 September 2021

Afterness, Artangel’s latest installation of new artworks in ‘unexpected places’, opened in June on Orford Ness, a weather-beaten spit of Suffolk shingle a few miles downcoast...

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I reach a familiar impasse. I have no words, or none that strike me as convincing, for the way Aesop looks – the way his features hover between irony and resignation – but that doesn’t...

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At the Garden Museum: Constance Spry

Rosemary Hill, 9 September 2021

Somewhere between handicraft and hobby and associated mostly with women, flower arranging conjures up images of 1950s housewives filling the suburban afternoons or savage competition at the WI. Constance...

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The Caviar Club: Rebel with a Hermès Scarf

Azadeh Moaveni, 9 September 2021

‘Despite international rhetoric,’ the  V&A curators claim, ‘Iranian culture, even beyond fine art, travels well.’ They cite the films of Asghar Farhadi and the popularity...

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Thinking about people packed together, breathing together underground, brings the dark nights of the Blitz into the present. This world feels foreign, but also familiar. The very idea of shelter, sheltering,...

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At the Movies: Bette Davis

Michael Wood, 12 August 2021

Ilearned​ only recently, from Charlotte Chandler’s biography, that Bette Davis had taken her first name from a Balzac novel, not knowing, apparently, that the character in question was...

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Strewn with Loot

Adewale Maja-Pearce, 12 August 2021

Because the British Museum has artefacts from so many other places the British pillaged and destroyed, and because many more people visit London than Benin City, or even Lagos, it follows that this is...

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The Russian state lab in Sochi was the official drug testing facility for the whole games. As head of the lab, Grigory Rodchenkov’s work was overseen by Wada, an organisation in denial about Russian...

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