Art history

The first patrons of Modernism deserve much sympathy and respect

25 September 2021 9:00 am

If Modernism is a jungle, how do you navigate a path through its thickets? Some explorers — Peter Gay and…

Like burst balloons after a party: the last paintings of John Hoyland

28 August 2021 9:00 am

When the internationally acclaimed abstract painter John Hoyland died in 2011 at the age of 76, a large chunk of…

Why should art have ever been considered a male preserve?

1 May 2021 9:00 am

Sixty years ago, women were still excluded from the art history canon, says Laura Freeman

Apostle of modernism: Clive Bell’s reputation repaired

24 April 2021 9:00 am

Clive Bell is the perennial supporting character in the biographies of the Bloomsbury group. The husband of Vanessa Bell, brother-in-law…

A new blossoming: David Hockney paints Normandy

3 April 2021 9:00 am

In 2018 David Hockney went to Normandy to look at the Bayeux Tapestry, which he had not seen for more…

Ceramic art has been undervalued for too long

3 April 2021 9:00 am

The use of ‘Ceramic’ rather than ‘Ceramics’ in the title of this book indicates Paul Greenhalgh’s passionate belief that ‘ceramic…

Bright and beautiful: the year’s best art books reviewed

5 December 2020 9:00 am

When he was a student, the celebrated American modernist master Robert Rauschenberg once told me that his ‘greatest teacher’ —…

From light into darkness: the genius of Goya

14 November 2020 9:00 am

The great Spanish artist Francisco Goya was born in Zaragoza in 1746, the son of a gilder whose livelihood was…

Will our churches ever reopen?

7 November 2020 9:00 am

Will churches ever fully reopen?

Ivan Morozov: the Russian businessman with a passion for the avant-garde

24 October 2020 9:00 am

If you want to see the very best of Gauguin and Matisse, go east. That was the case in 1914…

From Hogarth to Mardi Gras: the best art podcasts

20 June 2020 9:00 am

If you study History of Art, people generally assume you’re a nice, conscientious, plummy-voiced girl. Sometimes, people are right. It…

Arthur Jeffress: bright young person of the post-war art scene

24 April 2020 11:00 pm

The name Arthur Jeffress may not conjure many associations for those not familiar with the London post-war art world, but…

The Renaissance in 50 shades of grey

14 March 2020 9:00 am

The Mediterranean-centred era spanning a century or so either side of 1492 is filled to the brim with stories. There…

How long is long enough to look at a work of art?

15 February 2020 9:00 am

There is a vogue at the moment for books which use art as a vehicle for examining the writer’s wider…

Portrait of Ruskin dated 1870

John Ruskin: the making of a modern prophet

16 February 2019 9:00 am

At the time of his death in 1900, John Ruskin was, according to Andrew Hill, ‘perhaps the most famous living…

‘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…

Alesso Baldovinetti’s ‘Madonna and Child’ (c. 1464) is rich in symbolism. The infant Christ holds his swaddling band up to the Virgin’s womb, as if it were a token of the umbilical cord that united them. The winding shape of the bandage is echoed in the distant meandering river. The Madonna’s gossamer veil falls over her head as a pyx-cloth might cover a sacramental vessel.The child touches another translucent veil, draped over the cushion beside him. Towering above him, his Mother joins her hands in devotion, as if to acknowledge her Son’s meaningful gestures

Unfolding mysteries: the drama of drapery in Italian art

10 November 2018 9:00 am

The striking yet subtle jacket image from Donatello’s ‘Madonna of the Clouds’ announces this book’s quality from the outset. Its…

Left: ‘Self-portrait,’ 1916. Right: Homage to the Square: Renewed Hope’, 1951 by Josef Albers

Josef Albers: the Bauhaus artist whose pupil designed Auschwitz

20 October 2018 9:00 am

The German-born artist, Josef Albers, was a contrary so-and-so. Late in life, he was asked why — in the early…

‘The Poltergeist’ by Conroy Maddox (1941)

A violent ultimatum ended Giacometti’s brief flirtation with Marlene Dietrich

19 May 2018 9:00 am

Those with long enough memories may remember Desmond Morris as the presenter of the hit ITV children’s programme of Zoo…

Portrait of Gabrielle Renard and Jean Renoir. Gabrielle was an important part of the Renoir household, both as nanny and artist’s model

August Auguste

7 October 2017 9:00 am

In 1959 the formidable interviewer John Freeman took the Face to Face crew to the 81-year-old Augustus John’s studio. The…

Self-portrait, with his wife Margaret

A dazzling vision

12 August 2017 9:00 am

There are a number of reports by his contemporaries of Thomas Gainsborough at work. They make you realise what a…

Tug of war over the world’s heritage

12 March 2016 9:00 am

Isis’s blowing up of the Roman theatre at Palmyra should concentrate our minds: our world heritage is vulnerable. Not that…

Is Julian Barnes right to think Lucian Freud will survive? Jonathan Meades thinks not

30 May 2015 9:00 am

The subject of the least characteristic essay in this engrossing collection of meditations on painters, painters’ lives, painting and reactions…

Art has ceased to be beautiful or interesting — but we are more obsequious than ever to artists

16 May 2015 9:00 am

Two ambitious volumes of interviews with artists have just been published. They are similar, but different. The first is by…

Bernard Berenson and Kenneth Clark: pen friends, not true friends

25 April 2015 9:00 am

Robert Cumming’s opening sentence is: ‘Kenneth Clark and Bernard Berenson first met in the summer of 1925.’ One is then…