Features

Le Rêve (1888), Édouard Detaille. Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

‘The roll call of artists who donned a uniform in 1870 is remarkable’

The Franco-Prussian war led to lasting political change and left behind a rich visual record

16 Sep 2020
Water Birds (1829), Katsushika Hokusai.

Acquisitions of the Month: August 2020

A trove of newly discovered Hokusai drawings and a 17th-century ‘friendship book’ are among this month’s highlights

10 Sep 2020
Robert Freeman (1936–2019)

The late Robert Freeman was the Beatles’ favourite photographer – and now his entire archive has been stolen

From his portraits of Khrushchev and John Coltrane to celebrated album covers for the Beatles, Freeman’s entire archive was taken just weeks after his death

8 Sep 2020
The Sursock Palace in the aftermath of the 4 August blast. Photo: Gregory Buchakjian

After the blast – at the Sursock Palace and Museum in Beirut

Surveying the damage at this landmark suggests how long and difficult the road to rebuild Beirut – once again – will be

3 Sep 2020
THE END (2020) by Heather Phillipson, installed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

Sugar high – the fine art of fast food

A super-sized dollop of whipped cream now tops the Fourth Plinth – and there’s plenty more where that came from

1 Sep 2020
The Rothko Chapel, Houston (pre-restoration; opened in 1971).

Leap of faith – how Mark Rothko reimagined religious art for the modern age

For his chapel commission in Houston, the painter engaged with religion on his own terms – and forged a new, modern relevance for sacred art

29 Aug 2020
Agnese Tegon working in the furnace.

Breaking the glass ceiling? Women and the world of Murano

Insular and secretive, the Murano glass industry has historically excluded women – but that may soon change

25 Aug 2020
Desmond Guinness. Photo: Amelia Stein; courtesy Irish Georgian Society

‘An amplitude of personal charm’ – Desmond Guinness (1931–2020)

Desmond Guinness fought against the odds, and often against public opinion, to save Irish Georgian houses – and the nation will be forever in his debt

24 Aug 2020
Mosaic of the Enthroned Christ and the Donor, Theodore Metochites above the entrance to the naos of the Kariye (Chora) Museum, Istanbul.

The week in art news – Kariye Museum in Istanbul to be turned into a mosque

President Erdogan of Turkey today issued a decree to allow the Kariye (Chora) Museum to be used as a mosque.…

21 Aug 2020
Part of the ‘Barbus Müller’ group, photographed at the Musée Barbier-Mueller, Geneva, in 2020.

The mystery of the ‘Barbus Müller’ sculptures

The origin of the ‘Barbus Müller’ figures has puzzled many since these distinctive sculptures surfaced in the 1930s

10 Aug 2020
Self-portrait (1506), Raphael. Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence

Was Raphael as saintly as they say?

The ‘Prince of Painters’ has been much mythologised by art historians in the 500 years since his death

8 Aug 2020
Greenwood, Mississippi (1973), William Eggleston. Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2020 Eggleston Artistic Trust

Acquisitions of the Month: July 2020

More than 300 photographs at MoMA and an Aboriginal shield in Adelaide are among this month’s highlights

6 Aug 2020
Niru Ratnam in his new gallery.

‘I was storing crates in my dining room’ – on launching a gallery during lockdown

Setting a brave example wasn’t what Niru Ratnam had in mind when he forged ahead with plans to open his new business during the pandemic

5 Aug 2020
Visitors to the Petit Musée de la Récade inside the Centre for Arts and Culture in Cotonou, Benin, on 17 January 2020.

Private enterprise – the individuals who are taking restitution into their own hands

While museums deliberate about returning objects that were taken from their places of origin without consent, it is easier for individuals to act

1 Aug 2020
After the bulldozers – in the Cairo Necropolis on 21 July 2020. Photo: © Alia Nassar

‘For more than a thousand years this area has been the burial place of the great and the good of Cairo’

A short-sighted view of what counts as cultural heritage has led to the bulldozing of family tombs in the city’s oldest burial site

Artists on a march to demand the restitution of the Ministry of Culture on June 15, 2020 in La Paz, Bolivia. Photo by Aizar Raldes/AFP via Getty Images

Status anxiety – the battle over culture in Bolivia

The sacking of two museum directors and the axing of the ministry for culture is part of a wider struggle about who and what culture is for

The Severan Tondo, c. 200AD, Altes Museum, Berlin.

Losing face – iconoclasm in ancient Rome

The importance of public statuary and portraiture for the Romans is no better demonstrated than in the way images of personae non gratae were destroyed, disfigured or re-carved

28 Jul 2020

‘Her photographs appear as an eloquent reminder to passers-by of a life cut short’

Khadija Saye was among the 72 people who died in the fire at Grenfell in 2017. A series of self-portraits she made that year is currently on display near the tower

22 Jul 2020
The Chapelle Expiatoire (chapel of atonement) in Paris. Photo: Gilles Target/Photo 12/Alamy Stock Photo

Bones of contention – what does the discovery of human remains at the Chapelle Expiatoire mean?

The discovery of remains of victims of the Terror in a chapel dedicated to Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette complicates our understanding of the monument

22 Jul 2020
A builder works on the roof of the south tower of Zagreb's cathedral in April 2020 following the 5.3-magnitude earthquake in downtown Zagreb on 22 March. Photo: DENIS LOVROVIC/AFP via Getty Images

‘Zagreb’s museums and historic sites are suffering severely’

Struck by both Covid-19 and a fierce earthquake, Croatia’s capital city and its cultural heritage need urgent help

20 Jul 2020
Bernard Leach working at the wheel (detail; 1963).

Wheel of fortune – the life and achievements of Bernard Leach

A century after the founding of the Leach Pottery in St Ives, the ‘father of British studio pottery’ remains an influential, if contested, figure

18 Jul 2020
Suffragists on the picket line in front of the White House in 1917. National Woman’s Party Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

A history of the US women’s suffrage movement in five objects

This August marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote in America

14 Jul 2020
Installation view of ‘The Ecstatic Eye: Sergei Eisenstein, a filmmaker at the crossroads of the arts’ at the Pompidou-Metz in September 2019.

At the movies, in the museum

What does it mean to make cinema – and film directors in particular – the subject of museum exhibitions?

11 Jul 2020
Untitled, Harlem, New York (1963), Gordon Parks.

A socially distanced stroll around the galleries

Photographs by Gordon Parks and a panoramic painting by Dale Lewis feature amid an unusually plentiful offering in London this summer

9 Jul 2020