Exhibitions

A mesmerising retrospective: Victoria Crowe at City Art Centre, Edinburgh, reviewed

25 May 2019 9:00 am

This mesmerising retrospective takes up three floors of the City Art Centre, moving in distinct stages from the reedy flanks…

‘A was an Artist’, from William Nicholson’s An Alphabet, 1897

The duo that broke the mould of poster design

18 May 2019 9:00 am

The best double acts — Laurel and Hardy, Gilbert & George, Rodgers and Hart — are often made up of…

It’s all Greek to me: a schoolchild’s homework on a wax tablet, Egypt, 2nd century AD

Would James Joyce have finished Ulysses without coloured pens?

11 May 2019 9:00 am

The Mesopotamians wrote on clay and the ancient Chinese on ox bones and turtle shells. In Egypt, in about 1,800…

Moore’s art has never looked more in context than it does here, undulating in the spring sunshine with Palladian architecture on one side and vistas of greenery on the other: ‘Large Reclining Figure’, 1984

Moore’s art has never looked better: Henry Moore at Houghton Hall reviewed

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Henry Moore was, it seems, one of the most notable fresh-air fiends in art history. Not only did he prefer…

‘Landline Star’, 2017, Sean Scully

A beautiful exhibition of a magnificent painter: Sean Scully at the National Gallery reviewed

20 April 2019 9:00 am

Sean Scully once told me about his early days as a plasterer’s mate. At the age of 17 he was…

‘Head by Head’, 1905, by Edvard Munch

Absorbing – a masterclass in print-making: Edvard Munch at the British Museum reviewed

13 April 2019 9:00 am

An eyewitness described Edvard Munch supervising the print of a colour lithograph in 1896. He stood in front of the…

‘The New and Fashionable Game of the Jew’, 1807

Is now a good time to talk about Jews and money?

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Is now a good time to talk about Jews and money? The Jewish Museum in London thinks so, and perhaps…

‘Scenes from the Passion: The Hawthorne Tree’, 2001, by George Shaw

The joy of George Shaw’s miserable paintings of a Coventry council estate

30 March 2019 9:00 am

All good narrative painting contains an element of allegory, but most artists don’t go looking for it on a Coventry…

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,…