Contemporary art

I didn’t expect to be so moved – galleries reopen

27 June 2020 9:00 am

I’m in Mayfair and I’m boarding an airplane. Or rather, I’m boarding an approximation of an airplane. In the centre…

The artist who left no physical record of her work

2 May 2020 9:00 am

While locked-down galleries compete to keep their artists in the public eye — or ear — by uploading interview podcasts,…

Are there ways in which virtual exhibitions are better than real ones?

4 April 2020 9:00 am

Six months ago I published a book about travelling to look at works of art. One such journey involved a…

The grisly art of Revolutionary France

28 March 2020 9:00 am

There was a basket of thick red wool and two pairs of large knitting needles at the start of University…

How capitalism killed sleep

7 December 2019 9:00 am

What can you make a joke about these days? All the old butts of humour are off limits. No wonder…

The truth about food photography

2 November 2019 9:00 am

While looking at the photographs of food in this humorous exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery, I thought of how hopelessly…

English National Opera's triumphant new production of Harrison Birtwistle's The Mask of Orpheus, directed by Daniel Kramer. [Photo: Alistair Muir]

A triumph: ENO’s Mask of Orpheus reviewed

26 October 2019 9:00 am

ENO’s Mask of Orpheus is a triumph. It’s also unintelligible. Even David Pountney, who produced the original ENO staging in…

‘Telepainting’, 1964, by Takis

Full of wonders: Takis at Tate Modern reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

Steel flowers bend in a ‘breeze’ generated by magnetic pendulums. This is the first thing you see as you enter…

The women who invented collage – long before Picasso and co.

6 July 2019 9:00 am

The art-history books will tell you that sometime around 1912, Picasso invented collage, or, actually, perhaps it was Braque. What…

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,…

Plastic fantastic: British Industried Fair, 1948

How plastic saved the elephant and tortoise

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Plastics — even venerable, historically eloquent plastics — hardly draw the eye. As this show’s insightful accompanying publication (a snip…

‘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…

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…

Art or propaganda? Wolfgang Tillmans’ pro-EU poster for the 2016 referendum

For many artists being propagandists has become their raison d’être

9 March 2019 9:00 am

If you want to lose friends and alienate people in the art world, try telling them you support Britain leaving…

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 people have not forgotten me: the exiled Empress of Iran interviewed

15 December 2018 9:00 am

Somewhere in the bowels of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is a portrait from a lost world. Its subject…

‘One World’ by Mark Wallinger

The winner of the 2018 What’s That Thing? Award for bad public art is…

8 December 2018 9:00 am

Not a bad year for the award. Honourable mentions must go to the landfill abstractions of Oxford’s new Westgate Centre,…

Read The Spectator article that gave birth to musical minimalism 50 years ago

8 December 2018 9:00 am

The Spectator is responsible for many coinages. One of the most significant came in 1968, when an article by our…

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…

Antony Gormley’s art works better in theory than in practice

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Antony Gormley has replicated again. Every year or so a new army of his other selves — cast, or these…

Here’s why not to go to the Hamptons

16 June 2018 9:00 am

New York The summertime exodus is upon us. The Hamptons are overflowing with mouth-frothing groupies looking for celebrities, and the…

The glums: Marisol Montiel and Ana Luisa Montiel in Taryn Simon’s ‘An Occupation of Loss’

Grief-conjurors, space-mincers and earth-shovellers: performance roundup

19 May 2018 9:00 am

They enter two by two. Grannies, mainly. Headscarved, mainly. Some locking arms. A bit glum. Like rejects from Noah’s ark.…

‘Horizons II, (Allhallows towards London Gateway Port), England’, 2015, by Nadav Kander

The glorious history of Chatham Dockyard, as told through the eyes of artists

31 March 2018 9:00 am

‘Ding, Clash, Dong, BANG, Boom, Rattle, Clash, BANG, Clink, BANG, Dong, BANG, Clatter, BANG BANG BANG!’ is how Charles Dickens…

Games without frontiers: Ian Cheng’s ‘Emissaries Guide – Narrative Agents and Wildlife’ (2017)

The artist who creates digital life forms that bite & self-harm. Sam Leith meets him (and them)

24 March 2018 9:00 am

Digital art is a crowded field. It’s also now older than I am. Yet despite a 50-year courtship, art galleries…

‘Majesty’, 2006, by Tacita Dean

Intelligent, poetic and profound: Tacita Dean at the National and National Portrait galleries

24 March 2018 9:00 am

Andy Warhol would probably have been surprised to learn that his 1964 film ‘Empire’ had given rise to an entire…