Reviews

Qajar #19 (1998), Shadi Ghadirian.

Cultural evolution – ‘Epic Iran’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum, reviewed

A whirlwind journey through 5,000 years of Iranian civilisation charts change and continuity in a culture that has absorbed all manner of influences

8 Jul 2021
Detail of plaque (c. 16th–17th century), Benin City.

Returns policy – The Brutish Museums by Dan Hicks, reviewed

Is it enough for Western museums to say how they came by their colonial-era artefacts – or should they just give them back?

6 Jul 2021
Lapin à Vent de Tourtour (1968–94), François-Xavier Lalanne

At Versailles, Marie Antoinette’s private retreat plays host to a madcap menagerie

François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne’s fantastical creations are making mischief at the Trianon estate this summer

2 Jul 2021
Ben Nicholson photographed by Humphrey Spender (c. 1935).

Mugs, jugs and modern art – Ben Nicholson at Pallant House, reviewed

The painter had a keen eye for crockery – and the best pieces from his collection got to star in his art

30 Jun 2021
The ‘barn dining room’.

How to cook like a minimalist architect

Recipes from the table of John Pawson are as pared-back as his architecture – which is all a little too perfect

24 Jun 2021
Held deer: a detail from a tapestry woven in Brussels in 1550–60. Wawel Royal Castle, Kraków.

How Kraków’s royal tapestries returned to their rightful home

These great tapestries have a turbulent history that has seen them held by Russia and in Canada – but now they’re back in the rooms where they first hung

21 Jun 2021
Clive Bell (detail; c. 1924), Roger Fry. National Portrait Gallery, London

Bloomsbury’s gooseberry? ‘Clive Bell and the Making of Modernism’, reviewed

Clive Bell is now best known as Vanessa’s husband – but a new biography replenishes his role in promoting modernism in Britain

16 Jun 2021
Peacock weather vane (c. 1860–75), unidentified artist. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

What do US museums mean when they talk about folk art?

Collectors, curators and artists have been debating the category of American folk art since the early 20th century – as a display at the MFA Boston makes clear

15 Jun 2021
Picasso working on Guernica in his Grands-Augustins studio, Paris (detail; 1937), Dora Maar. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid.

Picasso’s Guernica, as you’ve never seen it before

The ‘Rethinking Guernica’ website allows us to scrutinise Picasso’s anti-war masterpiece in greater detail than ever

11 Jun 2021
The Specials photographed in 1980.

2 Tone was never just about the music – as this show in Coventry makes clear

2 Tone began as a ska-inspired record label, but swiftly became a look and a political stance – and a defining moment in British cultural history

9 Jun 2021

The clay’s the thing – Ceramic: Art and Civilisation, reviewed

Paul Greenhalgh’s ambitious survey takes us from the ancient Greeks to Picasso and beyond

9 Jun 2021
Still from CREATION dance by Deborah Kelly; installation view at The National 2021: New Australian Art’, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia.

Australian art that doesn’t beat about the bush – The National 2021, reviewed

A survey of new Australian art presents a planet in crisis – but it’s more uplifting than it sounds

4 Jun 2021
Late Afternoon (2020), Etel Adnan.

For Etel Adnan, a show in Turkey is a symbolic homecoming

A retrospective at the Pera Museum in Istanbul demonstrates the vast geographic sweep of the Lebanese-American artist’s work and biography – including her Ottoman roots

3 Jun 2021
Six pack: the contestants in Great British Photography Challenge.

Rankin’s Great British Photography Challenge is too polite for its own good

The TV competition series is billed as a ‘masterclass’ – and none of the contestants will be booted off until the finale. Where’s the fun in that?

3 Jun 2021
Barbara Hepworth in 1957.

Do artists dress to impress?

In ‘What Artists Wear’, Charlie Porter casts an eye over the wardrobe choices of everyone from Barbara Hepworth to Jean-Michel Basquiat

2 Jun 2021
John Craxton (left) and Patrick Leigh Fermor (right), Serifos, Greece, 1951.

John Craxton was a great artist – but his real talent was for living life to the full

A new biography of the British painter has a fine sense of his precocious talent – and real feeling for his rakish charm

29 May 2021
Rabbit (1986), Edward Ruscha. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Down the rabbit hole at LACMA

A temporary display of the museum’s collection telescopes time and space to group objects thematically – but is this a productive path to follow?

26 May 2021

Images of strength – Jennifer Higgie’s ‘The Mirror and the Palette’, reviewed

This wide-ranging book explores how women artists used self-portraiture to establish themselves in a man’s world

20 May 2021
The Landlady (1918), Nina Hamnett. Private collection.

In her life and art, Nina Hamnett had some serious fun

The first survey show dedicated to the ‘Queen of Bohemia’ presents a flamboyant figure who was single-minded about her art

20 May 2021
Glam-rock Nancy Mitford: Lily James as Linda in The Pursuit of Love.

Glam-rock Nancy Mitford – The Pursuit of Love, reviewed

Emily Mortimer’s TV adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s novel is a wonderfully glamorous affair – and its anachronisms are whip-smart

14 May 2021
Complication (detail; 2013), Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Private collection.

The tender fictions of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

In her portraits of imaginary people, the artist conjures a world that feels joyfully real

13 May 2021
Leonardo, leading man: Adrian Turner as Leonardo da Vinci (centre), with Matilda De Angelis as Caterina da Cremona (left) and Freddie Highmore as Stefano Giraldi (right)

‘Leonardo’ is clunky and condescending – so it’s bingeable Renaissance schlock, basically

The Amazon series limps through its art history but is just about salvaged by its endearingly goofy hero

4 May 2021
Four panels of Fragonard’s series The Progress of Love on the fourth floor of the Frick Madison.

The Frick Collection makes a move into modernism

The Breuer Building makes a minimalist foil for the Frick’s permanent collection – but Eve M. Kahn is rather glad the move is only temporary

27 Apr 2021
Detail from one of John Hassall’s advertisements for Colman’s of Norwich from 1898–89.

The dashing Edwardian poster designer who really cut the mustard

In his heyday John Hassall was known as ‘the Poster King’ and his eyecatching ads could be seen on hoardings all over Britain

26 Apr 2021