At the Garden Museum: Constance Spry

Rosemary Hill, 9 September 2021

Somewhere between handicraft and hobby and associated mostly with women, flower arranging conjures up images of 1950s housewives filling the suburban afternoons or savage competition at the WI. Constance...

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The Russian state lab in Sochi was the official drug testing facility for the whole games. As head of the lab, Grigory Rodchenkov’s work was overseen by Wada, an organisation in denial about Russian...

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At MoMA PS1: Niki de Saint Phalle

Lidija Haas, 12 August 2021

Halfway​ through Structures for Life, the Niki de Saint Phalle exhibition at MoMA PS1 (until 6 September), is a letter Saint Phalle wrote to her muse and sometime lover, Clarice Rivers....

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‘It is not easy to conceive a more striking object than the Parthenon, though now a mere ruin.’ But the Parthenon is sidelined in one of the views and absent in the other. Instead, centre stage...

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On Diego Rivera

Julia Bryan-Wilson, 12 August 2021

Though billed as an optimistic vision of ‘Pan American Unity’, Rivera’s mural has an ominous quality: we can see evidence of imperialism, fascism, the extraction of natural resources....

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At the Movies: Bette Davis

Michael Wood, 12 August 2021

Ilearned​ only recently, from Charlotte Chandler’s biography, that Bette Davis had taken her first name from a Balzac novel, not knowing, apparently, that the character in question was...

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Strewn with Loot

Adewale Maja-Pearce, 12 August 2021

Because the British Museum has artefacts from so many other places the British pillaged and destroyed, and because many more people visit London than Benin City, or even Lagos, it follows that this is...

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On the Bus

Andrew O’Hagan, 29 July 2021

On London buses, the passengers no longer speak to one another. They speak on their phone, often using a different sort of voice. Most are silent behind their masks. Only the gangs of school kids offer...

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How bad can it be? Getting away with it

John Lanchester, 29 July 2021

Of the very, very many things that make fans cross, nothing makes them crosser than penalties and sendings-off induced by simulation. We all know what it looks like: the faintest contact with a defender...

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Leave me my illusions: Antiquarianism

Nicholas Penny, 29 July 2021

Moonlight on broken stone tracery is a common motif; dark interiors provide a foil for stained glass and for white satin and deep blue velvet. The men must be away on the crusades. Young women are sobbing...

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Diana of the Upper Air

Lavinia Greenlaw, 29 July 2021

For​ a short while the highest point of the New York skyline was marked by a girl standing on tiptoe. At night she was also the brightest point, the focus of 66 incandescent lamps and ten spotlights,...

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No More D Minor: Tallis Survives

Peter Phillips, 29 July 2021

The comparison with Holbein, whose political agility and artistic range – from grand public portraits to miniature devotional images – allowed him to fashion the age, is a fair one. Tallis’s...

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At the Barbican: Jean Dubuffet

T.J. Clark, 29 July 2021

Afew​ weeks ago, I came across a young poet saying that the book he had been turning to during Covid was Francis Ponge’s Le Parti Pris des choses. (Siding with Things, the translation of...

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True Bromance: Ravi Shankar’s Ragas

Philip Clark, 15 July 2021

The rules stated which notes needed to be emphasised; the stress on certain notes locked others out of the design, thus creating the melodic shapes that gave each raga its personality. In performance,...

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Thomas Becket​ was not the first archbishop of Canterbury to meet a violent end – Archbishop Alphege was killed by Vikings in 1012 – but he was unique in other ways. Unlike his...

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Short Cuts: Nautical Dramas

Jeremy Harding, 15 July 2021

One​ of the most seductive items for sale on the website of Arthur Beale, yacht chandler, is a ‘chart work pack’ for just under thirty quid. It includes an elegant course plotter,...

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If​ you don’t especially like car crashes, exploding buildings and the overuse of assault weapons, you may want to stay away from the cinema for a while. Well, you could have started to...

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At Charleston: Nina Hamnett

Emily LaBarge, 1 July 2021

A sense of interiority and self-possession is common to all Nina Hamnett’s portraits: they hold the viewer at a distance. Like her still lifes, they are anti-mimetic, creating the impression...

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