Exhibitions

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…

‘The Fisherman’s Cottage’, 1906, by Harald Sohlberg

If you’re tired of hygge then you’ll like Harald Sohlberg

23 February 2019 9:00 am

If you’re tired of hygge then you’ll like Harald Sohlberg. The Norwegian painter  eschewed the cosy fireside for the great…

A letter from Vincent van Gogh to his younger brother Theo, dated 28 October 1883

‘Lock him in a motel & he’d do something astonishing’: Hockney on the genius of Van Gogh

23 February 2019 9:00 am

Being in the south of France obviously gave Vincent an enormous joy, which visibly comes out in the paintings. That’s…

Scourge of puritans: Christian Dior with model Sylvie, c.1948

How an anarchist music student become of the fashion greats: the life of Christian Dior

9 February 2019 9:00 am

Strange to think when you visit the Christian Dior show at the V&A that his time as designer was so…

‘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…

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,…

‘He strikes me dumb with admiration.’ Van Gogh on Howard Pyle’s pirate illustrations

The facts – and fiction – of piracy

17 November 2018 9:00 am

Avast there, scurvy dogs! For a nation founded on piracy (the privateer Sir Francis Drake swelled the exchequer by raiding…

‘The Laden Table’, c.1908, by Édouard Vuillard

A charming celebration of Vuillard’s muse – his mum: Barber Institute’s Maman reviewed

17 November 2018 9:00 am

Fin-de-siècle Paris was not just the art capital of the world, it was also the fashion capital. In 1901, 300,000…

‘Portrait of a Young Man with a Book’, c.1524–6, by Lorenzo Lotto

Lorenzo Lotto’s 16th century portraits come startlingly close to photography

17 November 2018 9:00 am

You can, perhaps, glimpse Lorenzo Lotto himself in the National Gallery’s marvellous exhibition, Lorenzo Lotto: Portraits. At the base of…

King David with his musicians: a page from the Vespasian Psalter, 8th century

To say this is a ‘once in a generation’ exhibition seems absurdly modest

17 November 2018 9:00 am

‘The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea drives us to the barbarians; between these two means of death…

‘The Doom Fulfilled’, by Edward Burne-Jones, 1888

Like today’s conceptual artists, Burne-Jones was more interested in ideas than paint

10 November 2018 9:00 am

‘I want big things to do and vast spaces,’ Edward Burne-Jones wrote to his wife Georgiana in the 1870s. ‘And…

Right, a page from the Hamzanama, c.1558-73, depicting Elijah rescuing Amir Hamza's drowning grandson. Left, 'The Raven addresses an assembly of animals', c.1590.

The true face of Islam won’t be found in mosques or Muslim schools, but at the British Museum

3 November 2018 9:00 am

In Britain today, Islam in its original essence is not to be found in mosques or Muslim schools, but on…

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…

‘Children’s Games’,
1560, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Wonderful, overwhelming, once-in-a-lifetime display of Bruegels – get on a plane now

20 October 2018 9:00 am

‘About suffering’, W.H. Auden memorably argued in his poem ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’, the old masters ‘were never wrong’. Great…

‘Pit Brow Lasses’, 2015, by David Venables

Women’s toplessness caused less offence to Victorians than their trousers

20 October 2018 9:00 am

‘They did not look like women, or at least a stranger new to the district might easily have been misled…

Going to the wall: ‘Jane Avril’, 1899, by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Lautrec often made the stars in his posters look appalling – but they kept coming back

20 October 2018 9:00 am

You don’t need to be much of a psychologist to understand the trajectory of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Born to aristocratic…

The ‘soul canoe’ from New Guinea is a sculpture as powerful as any by Brancusi

Full of fabulous, but baffling, things: Oceania reviewed

13 October 2018 9:00 am

At six in the morning of 20 July 1888, Robert Louis Stevenson first set eyes on a Pacific Island. As…

‘The Agony in the Garden’, c.1458–60, by Giovanni Bellini

Bellini vs Mantegna – whose side are you on?

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Sometimes Andrea Mantegna was just showing off. For the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua, he painted a false ceiling above the…

Black mirror: ‘20:50’, 1987, by Richard Wilson at the Hayward Gallery

There’s almost nothing in this Hayward show – and that’s the point

29 September 2018 9:00 am

A reflection on still water was perhaps the first picture that Homo sapiens ever encountered. The importance of mirrors in…