James Purdon is the author of Modernist Informatics (OUP, 2016)

Outposts of Empire: Central Australia (detail; 1938). John Vickery. Royal Mail Archive, Postal Museum, London

First class: the art of Post Office

How Britain’s postal system has inspired artists, from its origins in the 16th century to today

17 Feb 2018
Hanging Gardens of Hammersmith, No. 1 (1944–47), Victor Pasmore. © Estate of Victor Pasmore. All rights reserved DACS

The shifting styles of Victor Pasmore

Pasmore’s work surely constitutes one of the most varied and experimental bodies of work produced by any 20th-century British artist

9 Feb 2017

Surrealism, sex, and sound business sense – why Roland Penrose is a paradox

James King’s biography of the artist is illuminating, but tends to overstate the link between Penrose’s Surrealist art and his surreal personal life

13 Sep 2016

How the nuclear age made its mark on sculpture

The fear of nuclear disaster haunted the forms and materials of post-war sculpture

14 Feb 2016

The Future of Surrealism

A reflection on how surrealism left the centre stage

29 Aug 2015

‘Jeremy Gardiner: Jurassic Coast’ at the Victoria Art Gallery

The most striking of these works are the ones that resist the temptation to represent, that refuse to be too literal about the littoral

5 Feb 2015

Pointless exercise: Alain de Botton’s ‘Art is Therapy’

Start off with some light Vermeer. Ten reps. Feel you can manage more? Consider moving on to the Dürer

1 May 2014

Art/Work: Jesus College, Cambridge

I’m fortunate to work in a college with an exceptional art collection…it’s impossible to plan a route to work that doesn’t include one or two gems

30 Jan 2014