Essays

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David Jones – painter Desmond Sloane on an important British artist and poet

Painter Desmond Sloane rehearses the career of an important British artist and poet who fought in the trenches and whose work is too often overlooked. ‘Part of me, the artist within me, has never left the trenches.’ So wrote the artist and poet David Jones about his service as a front line soldier in the First World War. Jones was […]

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William Orpen reappraised

Painter John Nutt reappraises the forgotten and routinely maligned William Orpen. Largely for historical and religious reasons, the Irish have been persistently marginalised in British society. Orpen was the youngest of five children of a prosperous Irish Protestant solicitor. He was born in 1878 in Oriel House, Grove Avenue, Stilorgan near Dublin, where he enjoyed a comfortable middle class Irish […]

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Lament for a lost, semi-innocent world: Giles Auty remembers St Ives, half a century on from when he first painted there

I paid a first visit to St. Ives in the late 1950s and will never forget my first glimpse of the town from the hill above the railway station. For someone to whom the word ‘sea’ had hitherto largely meant the pebbly beaches and endless mudflats of the coast of East Kent, the turquoise water, dazzling white sands and rows […]

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Kenneth Clark at Tate Britain: the great panjandrum

Edward Lucie-Smith discovers that their tribute to Kenneth Clark is not as complimentary as the Tate thinks it is The Tate Britain show devoted to Sir Kenneth Clark – ‘Lord Clark of Civilisation’, as he came to be called – was a slightly strange phenomenon. It defined a whole tract of the recent history of the visual arts here in […]

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Matisse at the Tate: cut and paste

Edward Lucie-Smith admires an ambitious exhibition but with the reservation that something is missing The big new exhibition of Matisse’s Cut-Outs at Tate Modern in London is, certainly on the face of it, everything that a major museum of Modern and Contemporary Art should be doing. It is beautifully presented, very professionally curated, has an extremely thorough, excellently illustrated catalogue […]

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Painting Now – an alternative view

Inspired by the lacklustre, boring effort of the Tate in their exhibition Painting Now, Edward Lucie-Smith nominates his own five painters Contemporary painting, according to many critics and curators, is a dying art form. In the big Biennales it gets pushed aside by more ‘relevant’ forms of expression – installation, video, achingly fashionable performance art. We are encouraged to go […]

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Ai Weiwei at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Such is Ai Weiwei’s predictable status as a heroic dissident, that he could select an object blindfold and if he then exhibited it under his name it would automatically be said to be ‘about’ oppression or, as is more frequent these days, the individual’s place in the collective. The recently refurbished chapel in the grounds of the park (see illustration), […]

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Public art: Richard Wilson’s slipstream

Richard Wilson’s 77-tonne, £2.5 million sculpture Slipstream in Terminal 2 at Heathrow looks better in small, professionally taken photographs. In the flesh it disappoints. Looking more like a plane crash or an imploded barrage balloon than the rolling Spitfire which is claimed to have inspired it, it is so huge and so easily disappears into the building that many passengers […]

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Serpentine Gallery: charity begins at home

                              The ever so charitable Serpentine, which gives the public indigestible quantities of what it can’t stomach, held an annual summer bash for all its rich mates, and, blow me down, guess who deigned to show up. He’s probably not been at the gallery since last […]

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BBC arts coverage (part 34)

Two months ago, having been criticised for their useless visual arts coverage, which tends to be levelled at children and others of grotesque collective ignorance, the BBC promised us a raft of excellent arts programmes. Perhaps things were looking up. One of these has now hit the screen … with a splat. The organisation has clearly learned nothing from the […]