Exhibitions

Full of lovely paintings that might lead you astray: The Renaissance Nude reviewed

23 March 2019 9:00 am

Early in the 16th century, Fra Bartolomeo painted an altarpiece of St Sebastian for the church of San Marco in…

Soft cell: ‘Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202’, 1970–73, by Dorothea Tanning

Wicked, humorous and high-spirited: Dorothea Tanning at Tate Modern reviewed

16 March 2019 9:00 am

Art movements come and go but surrealism, in one form or another, has always been with us. Centuries before Freud’s…

Careful, Phyllida: the artist posing by her rickety sculptural wonderland at the RACareful, Phyllida: the artist posing by her rickety sculptural wonderland at the RA

Phyllida Barlow’s sculptural wonderland reigns supreme at the Royal Academy

2 March 2019 9:00 am

‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.’ If there’s an exception to prove Shaw’s rule, it’s Phyllida Barlow. The…

The first great English artist – the life and art of Nicholas Hilliard

23 February 2019 9:00 am

When Henry VIII died in 1547, he left a religiously divided country to a young iconoclast who erased a large…

Apocalypse now: ‘Wood near My House, Somerset’, c.1991, by Don McCullin

Few soldiers have seen as many terrible sights as Don McCullin

23 February 2019 9:00 am

Diane Arbus saw mid-20th century New York as if she was in a waking dream. Or at least that is…

A swirl of scienza and fantasia: ‘A Deluge’, c.1517–18, by Leonardo da Vinci

The terrifying genius of Leonardo

23 February 2019 9:00 am

A cataclysmic storm is unfolding. Dense, thunderous lines of black chalk sweep rapidly around the paper in frantic curls of…

The thrilling first part of Dmitri Tcherniakov's new production of Berlioz's Les Troyens for Opéra Bastille. Photo: Vincent Pontet / Opéra National de Paris

Dau is not just a pretentious fraud – it’s rather disgusting

16 February 2019 9:00 am

The best booers, in my experience, are the Germans. There’s real purpose and thickness to their vocals. Italians hiss. The…

‘Wonderground Map of London Town’, 1914, by Max Gill

Not as good as his immoral brother Eric but still wonderful: Max Gill at Ditchling reviewed

16 February 2019 9:00 am

MacDonald ‘Max’ Gill (1884–1947) is less well known than his notorious brother, Eric. But was he less of a designer,…

‘St Paul from Bevin Court’, 1961, by Cyril Mann

The exceptional romantic cityscapes of Cyril Mann

9 February 2019 9:00 am

The little-known painter Cyril Mann (1911-80) saw a lot from his council-flat window. Beyond the parks and trees and red-brick…

‘Tristan’s Ascension’, 2005, by Bill Viola

The odd couple: Bill Viola / Michelangelo at the RA reviewed

2 February 2019 9:00 am

The joint exhibition of Michelangelo Buonarroti and Bill Viola at the Royal Academy is, at first glance, an extremely improbable…

Immaterial world: ‘The Table’, 1925, by Pierre Bonnard

Was Pierre Bonnard any good?

26 January 2019 9:00 am

An attendant at an art gallery in France once apprehended a little old vandal, or so the story goes. He…

‘March’, 1939, by Grant Wood

The joy of prints

19 January 2019 9:00 am

Artists’ prints have been around for almost as long as the printed book. Indeed, they have similar origins in Gutenberg’s…

‘The Artist with his Wife Margaret and Eldest Daughter Mary’, c.1748, by Thomas Gainsborough

It’s hard to think of finer images of children than Gainsborough’s

12 January 2019 9:00 am

When he knew that he was dying, Thomas Gainsborough selected an unfinished painting from some years before and set it…

The triumph of hope over experience: the Peanuts gang

Comparing Peanuts to existentialism is an insult – to Peanuts

5 January 2019 9:00 am

For the hundredth, possibly the thousandth, time, Lucy van Pelt offers to hold the football for Charlie Brown so he…

Charles J. Tebbutt at Littleport, January 1893, unknown photographer

A short history of ice skating

15 December 2018 9:00 am

In landscape terms, the Fens don’t have much going for them. What you can say for them, though, is that…

Ivory plaque of a lioness mauling a man, ivory, gold, cornelian, lapis lazuli, Nimrud, 900 BC–700 BC. [© The Trustees of the British Museum]

The Assyrians of Ashurbanipal’s time were just as into pillage and destruction as Isis

1 December 2018 9:00 am

The Assyrians placed sculptures of winged human-headed bulls (lamassus) at the entrances to their capital at Nineveh, in modern Mosul,…

‘Flip Top’, 1962, by Richard Smith

In the 1960s the brightest star of British art was Richard Smith – and you can see why

24 November 2018 9:00 am

It is easy to assume that the contours of art history are unchanging, its major landmarks fixed for ever. Actually,…

‘The Laden Table’, c.1908, by Édouard Vuillard

A charming celebration of Vuillard’s muse – his mum: Barber Institute’s Maman reviewed

17 November 2018 9:00 am

Fin-de-siècle Paris was not just the art capital of the world, it was also the fashion capital. In 1901, 300,000…

King David with his musicians: a page from the Vespasian Psalter, 8th century

To say this is a ‘once in a generation’ exhibition seems absurdly modest

17 November 2018 9:00 am

‘The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea drives us to the barbarians; between these two means of death…

‘The Doom Fulfilled’, by Edward Burne-Jones, 1888

Like today’s conceptual artists, Burne-Jones was more interested in ideas than paint

10 November 2018 9:00 am

‘I want big things to do and vast spaces,’ Edward Burne-Jones wrote to his wife Georgiana in the 1870s. ‘And…

Stuffed doll in Edwardian-style black dress with stiletto through face, south Devon, England , 1909–13

The objects that sound witchiest on paper just look sad: Spellbound reviewed

27 October 2018 9:00 am

Just in front of me, visiting Spellbound at the Ashmolean last week, was a very rational boy of about seven…

‘Children’s Games’,
1560, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Wonderful, overwhelming, once-in-a-lifetime display of Bruegels – get on a plane now

20 October 2018 9:00 am

‘About suffering’, W.H. Auden memorably argued in his poem ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’, the old masters ‘were never wrong’. Great…

‘Pit Brow Lasses’, 2015, by David Venables

Women’s toplessness caused less offence to Victorians than their trousers

20 October 2018 9:00 am

‘They did not look like women, or at least a stranger new to the district might easily have been misled…

Going to the wall: ‘Jane Avril’, 1899, by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Lautrec often made the stars in his posters look appalling – but they kept coming back

20 October 2018 9:00 am

You don’t need to be much of a psychologist to understand the trajectory of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Born to aristocratic…

The ‘soul canoe’ from New Guinea is a sculpture as powerful as any by Brancusi

Full of fabulous, but baffling, things: Oceania reviewed

13 October 2018 9:00 am

At six in the morning of 20 July 1888, Robert Louis Stevenson first set eyes on a Pacific Island. As…