Recent articles

How two of our finest galleries threw out the old — and brought in the new

    The gods of art are at it again. For reasons lost somewhere deep in the annals of humanity these mischievous imps of heaven love to stir and poke and confuse. And in the past couple of weeks, what fun they’ve been having. First they arranged for Tate Britain to unveil a floor-to-ceiling rehang, the first […]

    My arts manifesto for our new king

      Your Majesty, Forgive the early hour of this missive. The butler may not have had a chance yet to brush the royal teeth and the new crown is still perched, I imagine, on the bedside table, next to the royal reading glasses. But there’s an old Polish saying that advises, “Kick your horse at the […]

      Soutine/Kossoff review — Chaïm Soutine was a filthy genius

        Most of the trickiest questions in art are impossible to answer. Who’s the greatest painter of all time? Who produced the best landscapes? Don’t ask me. I haven’t a clue. Art is a universe of subtleties. But there is one question to which not only I but everyone else in the art world immediately knows […]

        Tate Modern: a marvellous show of preposterous gobbledygook

          For proof of how rapidly tastes change in art, I recommend a visit to the unlikely pairing of Hilma af Klint and Piet Mondrian at Tate Modern. What a turn up! Ten years ago this show would have been impossible. Five years ago it would have been improbable. Today it is fully on the button, […]

          National Gallery, After Impressionism review — art’s finest moment

            If you put a gun to my head, pushed me against a lamppost and demanded I name my favourite art movement, I would probably splutter: “Post-impressionism.” It’s the one that presses my buzzers most firmly. My biggest buzzer, the macro buzzer, responds to the overall impact of a movement. The simple truth here is that […]

            This is how we’ll remember Gilbert & George and Tracey Emin

              It happens to us all. If we jump enough fences in the Grand National of life we eventually get to the run-in, and there, looming up before us, are the final hurdles. How will I be remembered? What do I leave behind? What was the point of it all? They’re the kind of questions everyone […]

              Reunited: the National Gallery’s Ugly Duchess finds her partner

                There’s a hairy wart on her cheek. Her nostrils flare like a chimpanzee’s and there’s something simian, too, about the distance between her nose and her mouth. Her forehead is crudely domed. Her ears stick out. However charitably we may try to observe her, it cannot be denied that the Ugly Duchess is unlovely. The […]

                The Gary Lineker saga and why we’ve lost our artistic soul

                  Another week, another cock-up. Who needs the Keystone Kops when you’ve got the BBC? Even by Auntie’s declining standards it’s been a bad fortnight. No sooner had the smell of Garygate begun to clear our nostrils than we discovered that the much-loved BBC Singers were to be terminated and that savage cuts to the BBC […]

                  Souls Grown Deep Like the River — an affecting display from artists who lost everything

                    I always tiptoe into exhibitions and always look carefully at the art — it’s the art critic’s modus operandi — but I admit I walked in extra lightly and stared with extra care at Souls Grown Deep Like the Rivers, a selection of works by black artists of the American South, which has arrived, somewhat […]

                    Alice Neel at the Barbican — the American artist waging a war against propriety

                      She’s 81 and as naked as the day she was born. Her breasts sag to her bellybutton, her stomach nestles on her thighs. She looks out at us sternly, like a grumpy German naturist daring us to disapprove. “Bravo, Alice Neel,” I mutter at the sight of this scary self-portrait. “That’s a hell of a […]