Reviews

Arthur Jeffress photographed in the 1920s.

Galleries and gondoliers – the life and times of Arthur Jeffress

The dealer and collector is usually a footnote in other people’s stories. A new biography makes him the main event

17 Jun 2020
Stone Blossom: A Conversation Piece (1939–40), Paul Cadmus.

Private eyes – the lives and loves of queer modern artists in New York

A new book of erotica and personal materials gives us an entrée to a circle of mid-century bohemians

11 Jun 2020
Nekyia scene (detail of the ghosts of Agamemnon and Tiresias), 325–300 BC, Tomb of Orcus II, Tarquinia.

That’s the spirit – how the Romans imagined the dead

The various ways in which the ancient Romans depicted figures from the afterlife tell us much about contemporary preoccupations

5 Jun 2020
Andy Warhol photographed in 1980.

How do you solve a problem like Andy Warhol?

Blake Gopnik’s new biography sets out to solve the puzzle of a man who saw his life as an extension of his art

27 May 2020
Calla Lily Vendor (detail; 1929), Alfredo Ramos Martínez. © The Alfredo Ramos Martínez Research Project

Border crossings – Vida Americana at the Whitney, reviewed

This important survey clearly shows how deeply modern art in the US was indebted to the Mexican muralists

21 May 2020
Screenshot of The Procession to Calvary.

Renaissance remixed – a surreal video game takes a sideways look at art history

Could a Pythonesque computer game set a good example for galleries trying to attract virtual visitors?

21 May 2020
Renaissance terracottas in Padua Central relief of The Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c. 1480–90), circle of Bartolomeo Bellano. Chiesa di San Pietro, Padua

Terra nova – Renaissance terracottas in Padua, reviewed

This groundbreaking exhibition charts the flourishing of the medium in the Veneto – from Donatello to lesser-known masters

20 May 2020
Guston in the studio with Painter’s Table (1973).

‘Philip Guston’s life traced that of modern art itself’

A new biography by Robert Storr offers a comprehensive yet personal account of the artist’s complex career

12 May 2020
Grayson Perry, courtesy Channel 4

Grayson Perry becomes the nation’s art teacher

The artist’s encouraging approach shows a nation in lockdown that technique isn’t everything

4 May 2020
A view of Tate Modern, London, in March 2020.

Programme notes – Museums in Quarantine on BBC4, reviewed

Alistair Sooke and Simon Schama take on tour-guide duties in a series of new 30-minute films. But how satisfying can the Tate on the telly really be?

30 Apr 2020
business as usual: hostile environment (detail of still; 2020), Alberta Whittle.

Call to attention – Glasgow International goes online

The festival has put together a digital programme that invites close and contemplative attention

29 Apr 2020
£5 banknote, designed by Reynolds Stone in 1963

A cut above – the singular style of Reynolds Stone

The designer may not be a household name, but his work is still instantly recognisable – from passports and magazines to banknotes and bookplates

28 Apr 2020
The Christ Vine and Scenes from the Legend of St Barbara (detail; 1523), Lorenzo Lotto. Suardi Chapel, Trescore Balneario. Photo: Pro Loco Trescore Balneario

Local colour – what the Renaissance looked like beyond Venice, Florence and Rome

A new study focuses on the painters working outside the main artistic centres of Italy

27 Apr 2020
The Nurture of Jupiter (c. 1639), Nicolas Poussin. Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Dual purpose – passion and reason in the art of Nicolas Poussin

A new study emphasises the marriage of thought and feeling in the painter’s work

22 Apr 2020
Installation view of ‘Tomás Saraceno: Aria’ at Palazzo Strozzi, Florence.

Spiders and soaring sculptures – Tomás Saraceno in Florence

An exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi positions the wildly ambitious artist as a Renaissance man for our times

20 Apr 2020
Femmes à leur toilette (1937–38), Pablo Picasso.

Material benefits – ‘Picasso and Paper’, reviewed

The pleasure Picasso took in paper as a medium was palpable in the Royal Academy’s recent show

18 Apr 2020
A view of ‘15 untitled works in concrete’ by Donald Judd in Marfa, Texas, in 2012. Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Minimal effort – ‘The Longing for Less’ by Kyle Chayka, reviewed

This hard-to-classify book brings together Donald Judd, Japanese aesthetics, and the aspirations of contemporary lifestyle bloggers

15 Apr 2020
Hanging scroll depicting the goddess Dakini (detail; 14th century), Japan. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

How artists in Kyoto made contemplative work in turbulent times

The Met’s display of 14 centuries of work from the longtime artistic centre of Japan gives plenty of pause for thought

10 Apr 2020
Fling, Dribble, and Drip (detail; 1970), Lynda Benglis, frontispiece of Jerry Saltz’s How to be an Artist (2020).

Freedom of expression – Jerry Saltz’s ‘How to be an Artist’, reviewed

The critic’s guide to creative living is full of joy – but how far can you get by following someone else’s rules?

8 Apr 2020
Cape Ann Granite (1928), Edward Hopper

The forgotten landscapes of Edward Hopper

The great painter of urban solitude was also a dab hand at empty expanses – from dunes and forests to the open road

6 Apr 2020
Tomb of the Unknown Whore (No. 2) (1965), William N. Copley.

Sex and the city – William N. Copley in New York

The American artist fused Surrealism and Pop to create an eccentric – and highly erotic – style that was all his own

31 Mar 2020
The Yusupov Palace theatre, designed by Andrey Mikhailov in the 1830s,

Russian spark – the palace builders of St Petersburg 

A ritzy new book brings to life the eclectic tastes and unbridled opulence of aristocratic families in late imperial Russia

27 Mar 2020
Thomas McKeller (detail) (1917–21), John Singer Sargent. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

‘Thomas McKeller was singular among Sargent’s pantheon of models’

What did it mean for a wildly successful artist to paint a black elevator operator in stuffy Boston society?

26 Mar 2020
The Silhouette of the Artist (1907), Léon Spilliaert. Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent. Photo: Hugo Maertens

Solitary refinement – the uncanny art of Léon Spilliaert

The Belgian Symbolist is at his spookiest and most original when he depicts reality

25 Mar 2020