Comment

Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery; © Phillip King

‘He transformed how sculpture is made’ – a tribute to Phillip King (1934–2021)

The British artist was a titan of modern sculpture – and following his example, it would never be the same again

6 Aug 2021
Bass instincts: Pennie Smith’s legendary photo of the moment Paul Simonon smashed his guitar on-stage, on the cover of the ‘London Calling’ album.

How a smashed-up bass guitar became the ultimate punk rock relic

The Clash bassist’s pulverised instrument can now be worshipped at the Museum of London

3 Aug 2021
Stained-glass window for the Salon Arabe in the Sursock Museum, in the workshop of Maison Tarazi.

A year after the blast, Beirut is in crisis – but look hard, and there are small signs of hope

With chaos in Lebanon and Beirut in crisis, the resilience of the city’s artists and heritage workers is something of a miracle

30 Jul 2021
Installation view of ‘Re-Entanglements: Colonial Collections in Decolonial Times’ at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge.

What should happen to colonial collections that weren’t looted?

Museums should lead conversations about archives and artefacts gathered in former colonies – and not leave the objects gathering dust

29 Jul 2021

The saga of the Salvator Mundi is catnip for film-makers

Two documentaries on the ‘lost Leonardo’ have found the story’s sensationalism irresistible – but hard facts are as absent as the painting itself

29 Jul 2021
Plaque (16th–17th century), Benin City. Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum, London

We need a fair and formal process for restitution claims – but what would that look like?

As calls grow for the return of objects acquired during the colonial era, the assessment of claims requires an independent process

21 Jul 2021
Sir Nicholas Goodison (1934–2021)

Remembering Sir Nicholas Goodison (1934–2021), the City grandee with a scholar’s eye for the decorative arts

Nicholas Goodison had a distinguished career in the City – but he will also be remembered for his scholarly and philanthropic contributions to the arts

20 Jul 2021
Bone age: the engraved phalanx from Einhornhöhle.

The cultural lives of the Neanderthals

The discovery of an engraved bone in Germany offers yet more evidence that our distant cousins were creatively minded

15 Jul 2021
Private party? Carnaby Street in Soho, London, in late 2020.

Why are painters getting pushed out of public spaces?

The privatisation of public space in UK cities means that artists are being made to feel increasingly unwelcome

15 Jul 2021
Wardrobe malfunction: statue of Princess Diana by Ian Rank-Broadley, unveiled in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace on 1 July 2021.

Diana was a fashion icon, so why is her statue in Kensington Gardens so badly dressed?

The disappointing bronze figure raises the difficult question of what a well-dressed statue should wear these days

6 Jul 2021
Tim Berners-Lee demonstrating the World Wide Web at CERN.

Tim Berners-Lee said the world wide web was for everyone, so why has he sold its source code as an NFT?

The sale at auction raises complex questions about who owns the internet today

29 Jun 2021
Illustration: David Biskup

Will unions make a difference at US museums?

Union drives have accelerated during the pandemic, but museum workers have been frustrated with management for years, write Dana Kopel and Maxwell L. Anderson

28 Jun 2021
Star gazing: still from the Abramovic Method by Marina Abramovic, designed by WeTransfer

The path to self-improvement, according to Marina Abramovic

The artist has partnered up with WeTransfer to create a digital version of the Abramovic Method, a series of exercises that will test your patience to its limit

18 Jun 2021
Detail of a 17th-century plaque depicting a junior court official in the Kingdom of Benin – one of two to be returned to Nigeria by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Met ought to have returned two stolen Benin Bronzes years ago

The museum has agreed to give back two plaques in its collection that were taken illegally from Nigeria after 1960. Why now?

17 Jun 2021
The MSC Magnifica seen from a canal in Venice in June 2019.

Can Italy solve its tourist troubles?

With mass tourism poised to return, have local politicians and cultural leaders finally worked out how to manage the crowds? 

1 Jun 2021
An image of the ‘Santa Cruz’ mountain on Mars, taken by Perseverance's Mastcam-Z in April 2021.

The Martian landscape is magical but mundane – though it would be a mistake to start taking it for granted

Mars has never seemed closer, with rovers spamming us with photos from its surface

28 May 2021
Illustration by David Biskup

Is the ‘arm’s-length’ principle under threat in UK museums?

With the government waging its ‘culture war’, the independence of national museums is at stake, write Chris Smith and Margot Finn

26 May 2021
Arundel Castle, West Sussex.

The heist at Arundel Castle means a heartbreaking loss of heritage

Stolen objects include the rosary that Mary, Queen of Scots took to her execution

25 May 2021

A masterpiece of Roman design, rediscovered in Nicaragua

Long thought lost by scholars, a spectacular silver gilt monstrance by Luigi Valadier has now been tracked down to a Central American basilica

24 May 2021
A saintly sight? The Cerne Abbas giant in Dorset.

Would medieval Christians have blushed at a giant chalk erection?

Even if the Cerne Abbas giant is Anglo-Saxon, that doesn’t make it pagan – after all, Christians were no prudes in those days

21 May 2021
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Photo: Thomas Marks

The sad, shameful demise of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The appeal to save Britain’s oldest place of manufacture has been rejected and the foundry will become a boutique hotel. How could Historic England have let this happen?

Jean-Michel Basquiat in the film ‘Downtown 81’ (1980–81/2000).

No, you probably can’t sell your Basquiat as an NFT

If the cancelled sale of a Basquiat NFT is anything to go by, disputes about intellectual property will affect the course of the big NFT adventure

12 May 2021
Joseph Beuys in 1975, photographed by Caroline Tisdall.

The disappearance of Joseph Beuys

The German artist’s greatest work was himself – so marking his centenary makes for a curatorial conundrum

11 May 2021
A rendering of the plans for the new Colosseum floor.

Will a gladiator’s-eye view make visiting the Colosseum more spectacular?

Installing a floor in the Colosseum will make the ruin less familiar – but may help us understand the original experience of the building

10 May 2021