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

Fossil fuelled – the sticky relationship between art and the oil industry

Cultural institutions are increasingly cutting ties with fossil fuel sponsors, but art and oil have long been intertwined in surprising ways

15 May 2024

Forging relationships – Eduardo Paolozzi at 100

A centenary celebration of the Edinburgh-born artist puts his collaborative side in the spotlight

26 Feb 2024

Colour saturation – how the world stopped seeing in black and white

Kirsty Sinclair Dootson shows that a history of colour processes is also a history of shifts in society

3 Oct 2023

When Giacometti lit up literary London

The sculptor’s chandelier, now export-stopped by the UK government, once hung in the offices of Cyril Connolly’s Horizon magazine

28 Jul 2023
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Willem Röell (1728), Cornelis Troost. Amsterdam Museum

The art of bodysnatching in Edinburgh

There’s no disguising the gruesomeness of the trade that underpinned the scientific advances of the 18th century

29 Jul 2022
Modelling agency: Ray Harryhausen working on The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

The man who brought Hollywood’s fantasies to life

Without Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion models, science-fiction films wouldn’t look like they do today

27 Jan 2021
The Towpath (1912), C.R.W. Nevinson

Grand union – how canals have captivated British artists for centuries

Painters from Constable to the present day have been inspired by urban waterways as a place for both lovers and labourers

21 Mar 2020
Alasdair Gray (2004), Norman McBeath.

‘He invented modern Glasgow’ – a tribute to Alasdair Gray (1934–2019)

The painter-novelist was one of a kind – but his influence will continue to shape the imagination of Scotland

17 Jan 2020
The Lovell Telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, Chesire.

Jodrell Bank – a beacon of British science and a boon for artists

While few would contest the scientific significance of the site, its cultural impact has been less widely acknowledged

26 Jul 2019
Tom Schilling as Kurt Barnert.

This film inspired by Gerhard Richter won’t tell you much about his art

Never Look Away is based on the life of the great German artist – but it doesn’t do justice to his work

18 Dec 2018
Outposts of Empire: Central Australia (detail; 1938). John Vickery. Royal Mail Archive, Postal Museum, London

First class: the art of the 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