Recent articles

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 […]

            Donatello at the V&A — a show missing its star

              Open any serious telling of the story of art, turn to the chapters on the Renaissance and you will find many pages devoted to the Florentine sculptor Donatello. He is one of the giants, the books insist, up there with Leonardo, Michelangelo, Giotto. So sure is the Victoria and Albert Museum of his rank that […]

              Mike Nelson at Hayward Gallery: Extinction Beckons

                Do you remember when they assassinated Osama bin Laden? It was 2011. May. I remember it because a couple of weeks later the Venice Biennale opened, and representing Britain, unforgettably, was Mike Nelson. Inside the British pavilion, in a dankly atmospheric installation, Nelson had built a labyrinth of desolate Middle Eastern spaces through which we […]

                BIG WOMEN: at last, art to make us laugh

                  Humour is a valuable quality in art. Rembrandt with his peeing monk; Michelangelo with his foolish Boaz on the Sistine ceiling; pretty much all of Bruegel; lots of Picasso — great artists have often had great funny bones. It is something that contemporary art has widely forgotten as it drops barbells on our spirit with […]

                  Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum is the exhibition of the century

                    Everybody loves Vermeer. He’s irresistible. The magical light, the air of perfection, the whispery moods, the intoxicating combinations of yellow and blue. They get to all of us. So it is entirely unsurprising that the Vermeer extravaganza at the Rijksmuseum — it’s the largest collection of his paintings assembled in history, featuring 28 of his […]

                    Tate Britain: finally, a gallery rehang that works

                      A few months ago I was clicking aimlessly through Tate Britain’s online paperwork when I saw a job advert that plunged a dagger into my heart. “Project Manager, Tate Britain Rehang,” blared the ad. Salary £30,000. “Oh no,” my inner art lover screamed. “A willy is about to be waggled.” Again. The gallery rehang is the […]