Exhibitions

A picture of pure energy: Watts’s ‘The Sower of Systems’, 1902

Maximum wattage

29 July 2017 9:00 am

On his deathbed in 1904, George Frederic Watts saw a extraordinary spectacle. He witnessed the universe coming into being: the…

Plywood at its most curvaceous, acceptable and collectible: Alvar Aalto armchair, 1930 (left), and moulded plywood chair by Grete Jalk, 1963

Grain of truth

8 July 2017 9:00 am

We routinely feel emotional about materials — often subliminally. Which is why new substances and techniques for manufacturing have provoked…

‘Statue (Double Check by Seward Johnson), New York, 11 September 2001’, 2001, by Jeff Mermelstein

Repo women

6 July 2017 1:00 pm

Aren’t you getting a little sick of the white cube? I am. I realised how sick last week after blundering…

Buried treasure: an archaeologist diver brushes clear a bovid jaw discovered in Aboukir Bay

The treasures of Alexandria revealed: British Museum’s Sunken cities reviewed

4 June 2016 9:00 am

It was not so unusual for someone to turn into a god in Egypt. It happened to the Emperor Hadrian’s…

The lifts are lovely: Tate Modern’s extension reviewed

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Tate Modern, badly overcrowded, has built itself a £260 million extension to spread everyone about the place more. This means…

‘Oh god, ma tutto occupato’ (Ach herrje, ma tutto occupato), 2016, by Georg Baselitz

As he approaches 80, the German master Georg Baselitz contemplates the end

21 May 2016 9:00 am

‘In many ways,’ Georg Baselitz muses, ‘I behaved against the grain of the times I grew up in.’ The era…

Satirical diptych, 1520–1530, anonymous Flemish artist

This Parisian exhibition has rewritten the story of art

14 May 2016 9:00 am

Why do we put one work of art beside another? For the most part museums and galleries tend to stick…

‘Cassava with White Peacock Butterfly and young Golden Tegu’, 1702–3, by Maria Merian

The 17th century painter who hacked her way through Suriname in search of insects

7 May 2016 9:00 am

Maria Sibylla Merian was a game old bird of entrepreneurial bent, with an overwhelming obsession with insects. Born in Frankfurt…

‘Undressed’ is too much boob, not enough woman: ‘Tamila’ lingerie set from the Agent Provocateur Soirée collection

Too much boob – not enough woman: Undressed at the V&A reviewed

16 April 2016 9:00 am

The V&A is selling £35 Agent Provocateur pants. This is, of course, a business deal because Agent Provocateur — along…

Detail of mosaic depicting the martyrdom of Saints Castus and Cassius, 12th century, at the Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily

Norman Sicily was a multicultural paradise – but it didn’t last long

9 April 2016 9:00 am

There are lessons to be learned from the disintegration of this once majestic multicultural Norman kingdom, says Martin Gayford

‘Macbeth, Banquo and Witches on the Heath’, 1794, by Henry Fuseli

Why do some museums insist on playing piped music into exhibitions?

9 April 2016 9:00 am

There was a genteel brouhaha last year — leaders in the Times, letters to the Telegraph, tutting in the galleries…

Unchanging: Florence’s skyline and the Arno

Botticelli’s jokes and the quarrelsome, creative spirit of Florence

2 April 2016 9:00 am

Once, it seems, Sandro Botticelli played a trick on a neighbour. Next door was a weaver who possessed eight looms.…

‘Wall Street, New York’, 1915, by Paul Strand

A lot of art is trickery - and all the better for it

26 March 2016 9:00 am

One day, in the autumn of 1960, a young Frenchman launched himself off a garden wall in a suburban street…

‘Venus’, 1490s, by Sandro Botticelli

V&A's Botticelli Reimagined has too many desperate pretenders

5 March 2016 9:00 am

When Tom Birkin, hero of J.L. Carr’s novel A Month in the Country, wakes from sleeping in the sun, it…

Through a lens darkly: from the series ‘New Brighton’ , ‘The Last Resort’, 1985

‘I enjoy the banal’: Stephen Bayley meets Martin Parr

27 February 2016 9:00 am

The photographer Martin Parr claims to like ordinary people, but are his pictures celebratory or mocking, asks Stephen Bayley

Hell made fun – the joy of Hieronymus Bosch

27 February 2016 9:00 am

The 20th-century painter who called himself Balthus once proposed that a monograph about him should begin with the words ‘Balthus…

‘The Woodman’s Child’, 1860, by Arthur Hughes

Twee, treacly and tearful: Pre-Raphaelites at the Walker Art Gallery reviewed

27 February 2016 9:00 am

Dear, good, kind, sacrificing Little Nell. Here she is kneeling by a wayside pond, bonnet pushed back, shoes and stockings…

‘Silent Treatment’ by Andrew Cranston

Part bijou Kiefer, part woozy Vuillard: the paintings of Andrew Cranston

20 February 2016 9:00 am

The ten vignettes that punctuate the white walls of the Ingleby Gallery invite us to step into the many-chambered mind…

‘Portrait of a Young Man’ by Giorgione

Renaissance master? Rascal? Thief? In search of Giorgione

13 February 2016 9:00 am

Question-marks over attribution are at the heart of a forthcoming Giorgione exhibition. Martin Gayford sifts through the evidence

‘Untitled (Oxidation Painting)’, 1978, by Andy Warhol

Warhol the traditionalist: the Ashmolean Museum show reviewed

6 February 2016 9:00 am

When asked the question ‘What is art?’, Andy Warhol gave a characteristically flip answer (‘Isn’t that a guy’s name?’). On…

About strange lands and people: ‘Midsummer Eve Bonfire’, after c.1917, by Nikolai Astrup

Nikolai Astrup - Norway’s other great painter

30 January 2016 9:00 am

The Norwegian artist Nikolai Astrup has been unjustly overshadowed by Edvard Munch. But that is about to change, says Claudia Massie

‘Nympheas (Waterlilies)’, 1914–15, by Claude Monet

The link between herbaceous borders and the avant-garde

30 January 2016 9:00 am

Philip Larkin once remarked that Art Tatum, a jazz musician given to ornate, multi-noted flourishes on the keyboard, reminded him…

‘If ever there was a Renaissance Man, John Dee was it’: from ‘The Order of the Inspirati’, 1659

John Dee thought he could talk to angels using medieval computer technology

16 January 2016 9:00 am

John Dee liked to talk to spirits but he was no loony witch, says Christopher Howse

Map of the Island of Utopia, book frontispiece, 1563

Even Corbyn would find Thomas More’s Utopia too leftwing

2 January 2016 9:00 am

Thomas More’s 1516 classic is a textbook for our troubled times, says William Cook

‘The Birth of Christ’, 1896, by Paul Gauguin

Why would a dissolute rebel like Paul Gauguin paint a nativity?

12 December 2015 9:00 am

Martin Gayford investigates how this splendid Tahitian Madonna came about and why religion was ever-present in Gauguin's art