Inspired by the East at the British Museum

    Young Woman Reading 1880 by Osman Hamdi Bey Reading the British Museum press release of Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art, I was preparing myself for a big show. The exhibition was promoted as “Covering five centuries of artistic interaction”, and since it was a paying show for the…

Into the Night at the Barbican

Shadow Theatre at Le Chat Noir, Paris.  I always look forward to the Barbican Gallery’s exhibitions. Theme-based with enticing titles, they always manage to capture the imagination. The last show I covered there, entitled Art, Intimacy and the Avant-Garde (see here LOVE IN A CREATIVE CLIMATE) in January of this year, had been riveting. With the…

‘Rembrandt’s Light’ lights up Dulwich

  A new show has opened for autumn at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. It’s called Rembrandt’s Light. It’s intelligent, empathetic, surprising and at one point breathtaking, and I urge you all to go and see it as soon as possible. Dulwich, the UK’s earliest purpose-built public picture gallery (it was founded in 1811), was designed…

Kollwitz’s War and Grief at the British Museum

‘Woman with Dead Child, 1903. Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945)   Käthe Kollwitz, née Schmidt, is not a name I had come across in the art world until the British Museum’s show.  Born in 1867, in Königsberg, East Prussia, Kollwitz established herself as a leading, influential graphic artist by the time the First World War came about….

Dulwich Printmaking Show Impresses

  Dorrit Black, Music, 1927-28 I had never heard of the Grosvenor School of Modern Art until I set foot in the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Founded  by wood engraver, Iain Macnab in 1925, the Grosvenor School was different from other London-based art schools of the time. There were no exams, students enrolled on courses when they could,…

Leonardo da Vinci. A Life in Notebooks

Study of Fetus in the Womb circa 1511   Part artist, part scientist, Da Vinci embodies the Renaissance man par excellence. Luckily for us, the workings of his inner mind in painting, sculpture, anatomy, military engineering and cartography have all been recorded in the notebooks he kept throughout his life. One of these notebooks made…

Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light

  The Spanish impressionist artist, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923), is little known outside of Spain. Half a million flocked to his retrospective at the Prado Museum in 2009. Meanwhile his house in Madrid, now the Sorolla Museum, has become a tourist destination and is best visited, I imagine, out of season. And yet how…

PRIVATES ON PARADE: The Renaissance Nude at the Royal Academy

You can’t put on a show like this without provoking the odd giggle, but The Renaissance Nude will also have you pondering, especially in today’s context, what our attitudes toward sex and nudity and gender were in the past, and hit they might become.