Arts feature

Why has British art had such a fascination with fire?

15 June 2019 9:00 am

‘Playing God is indeed playing with fire,’ observed Ronald Dworkin. ‘But that is what we mortals have done since Prometheus,…

The miracle of Longborough – the company that broke the mould for summer opera

8 June 2019 9:00 am

At Longborough Festival Opera, Richard Wagner is on the roof. Literally: his statue stands on top of the little pink…

Sergio Leone’s 1968 Once Upon a Time in the West

Quentin Tarantino on how spaghetti westerns shaped modern cinema

1 June 2019 9:00 am

The movie that made me consider filmmaking, the movie that showed me how a director does what he does, how…

Metamorphosis in progress: a mosaic of the giant Orion being turned into a constellation

The new treasures of Pompeii

25 May 2019 9:00 am

One afternoon in AD 79 an unusual cloud appeared above Vesuvius in the Bay of Naples. ‘It was raised high…

Postcard from the edge: The Rings of Saturn (Shingle Street — unused photograph), 1994

From haunted to haunter: the afterlife of W.G. Sebald

18 May 2019 9:00 am

East Anglia, the rump of the British Isles, has inspired a disproportionate number of writers: Robert Macfarlane, Daisy Johnson, Mark…

Bring me my arrow of desire: the original Italian film poster for Pasolini’s 1974 Il Fiore delle Mille e Una Notte

How film fell for caliphs and slave girls

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Most of Hollywood’s Arabian Nights fantasies are, of course, unadulterated tosh. The Middle East, wrote the American film critic William…

Lance encounters: a plate from The Book of Tournaments, Maximilian’s remarkable encyclopedia of jousting

The joy of jousting

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Emperor Maximilian I liked to say he invented the joust of the exploding shields. When a knight charged and his…

The eyes have it: ‘The Zebra’, 1763, by George Stubbs

What makes British art British?

27 April 2019 9:00 am

There’s no avoiding the Britishness of British art. It hits me every time I walk outside and see dappled trees…

Northern soul: Whitby Abbey was built on the site where the date of Easter was decided

Whitby Abbey is at the heart of Britain’s spiritual and literary history

20 April 2019 9:00 am

The 199 steps up to the ruins of Whitby Abbey are a pilgrimage; they always have been. And any good…

Dancer, choreographer, iconoclast: Merce Cunningham in 1962

Merce Cunningham’s work was magical, intangible, Einsteinian – revival is futile

13 April 2019 9:00 am

On Tuesday, thousands of miles apart, in three great cities, London, New York and Los Angeles, 75 dancers will dance…

Why were the Victorians so obsessed with the moon?

6 April 2019 9:00 am

In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a group of slightly ramshackle workmen decide to put on a play. The play…

Mary, Mary, quite contrary: Mary Quant and fellow-revolutionary Vidal Sassoon in 1964

My ringside seat on the Mary Quant revolution

30 March 2019 9:00 am

I think I probably qualify as the oldest fashion editor in the world, because in spite of my advanced age…

Life after death: Billie Holliday at the Hologram USA Theater

The rise and rise of the holographic tour

23 March 2019 9:00 am

In March 1968, Frank Zappa released an album called We’re Only in it for the Money. Presumably, then, Zappa —…

All the world’s a stage: Luwam Teklizgi (Rita) and Toby Jones (Peter) in BBC2’s forthcoming Don’t Forget the Driver

Toby Jones on the allure of the everyman – and the glamour of coach-driving

16 March 2019 9:00 am

Toby Jones shuffles into the café in Clapham where we are meeting. He’s wearing a duffle coat and a hat…

‘Afternoon at the Beach in Valencia’, 1904, by Joaquin Sorolla

Enjoy a blast of Spanish sun from Joaquin Sorolla

9 March 2019 9:00 am

Artists can be trained, but they are formed by their earliest impressions: a child of five may not be able…

Left: cartoon of Hector Berlioz published in the Wiener Theaterzeitung in 1846. Right: the composer in 1863, aged 59

David Cairns explains how we learned to love Berlioz

2 March 2019 9:00 am

According to his friend and fellow-composer Ernest Reyer, the last words Berlioz spoke on his deathbed were: ‘They are finally…

Polite postmodernism: Burbridge Close, Dagenham, by Peter Barber Architects is a recent housing development for the elderly that Roger Scruton approves of

Here’s what I want from modern architecture, explains housing tsar Roger Scruton

23 February 2019 9:00 am

The creation of a commission to examine beauty in new building created a stir in the media, with the chairman…

World-class: Symphony Orchestra of India in its tropical Barbican in Mumbai

Meet India’s first – and only – professional western orchestra

16 February 2019 9:00 am

It’s a 31ºC Mumbai morning, and on Marine Drive the Russian winter is closing in. The Symphony Orchestra of India…

Scourge of puritans: Christian Dior with model Sylvie, c.1948

How an anarchist music student become of the fashion greats: the life of Christian Dior

9 February 2019 9:00 am

Strange to think when you visit the Christian Dior show at the V&A that his time as designer was so…

A document of a mass human experiment that is moving, revolting, violent and extraordinarily pornographic

Dau is the strangest and most unsettling piece of art to come out of Russia in years

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Dau is not so much a film as a document of a mass human experiment. The result is dark, brilliant…

Fasten your seatbelts: Bette Davis in her dressing room during the filming of All About Eve

All About Eve was all about bitching – off-screen as well as on

26 January 2019 9:00 am

In 1950, Bette Davis had a string of recent flops behind her. She was 41, married to an embarrassing twerp…

Gary Raymond and Richard Burton in Tony Richardson’s 1959 film version of Look Back in Anger

What a relief we can finally admit Jimmy Porter was a pain in the neck

19 January 2019 9:00 am

Gary Raymond must have been wondering if it was the end of a promising career — curtains. He was starring…

Pounds of flesh: Takayasu throws Takakeisho to the ground to win the 2018 Kyushu tournament in Fukuoka

The balletic, bum-baring rituals of sumo

12 January 2019 9:00 am

An early morning in late November in the peaceful glades that surround an ancient temple complex. A Shinto priest in…

Writers of some of the best-loved programmes in British television history: Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement

Dick Clement on Porridge, Kirk Douglas and having seven projects on the go

5 January 2019 9:00 am

Given their track record, you might think that Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais would be spared the struggles that…

‘The Nativity’, 1470–75, by Piero della Francesca

The fascinating story behind one of the best-loved depictions of the Nativity

15 December 2018 9:00 am

In the early 1370s an elderly Scandinavian woman living in Rome had a vision of the Nativity. Her name was…