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US, Russia, Trump and Museums

US, Russia, Trump and Museums

Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, is optimistic that museum loans between Russia and the US can begin again soon. Piotrovsky spoke to The Art Newspaper (January 2017) as the US Senate voted to pass new legislation that will protect works of art on […]

Wassily Kandinsky, also engraver

Wassily Kandinsky, also engraver

Born on December 16, 1866 in Moscow (Russia), Wassily Kandinsky was a painter, printmaker, stage designer, art theorist, and a central artist in the development of 20th century abstract art. Kandinsky studied economics, ethnography and law in Moscow from 1886 to 1893, and wrote a dissertation on the legality of […]

Nativity, and/or visions of Apocalypse?

Nativity, and/or visions of Apocalypse?

Nativity scenes are the art we see at Christmas, often on cards that put a masterpiece on the mantelpiece. Baby its cold outside, so let’s warm our hearts with a bit of Piero della Francesca or Brueghel. Yet we close our eyes to the reality of this art. We turn […]

An artist in power

An artist in power

You could debate which country has the most ornate government office: the gilded Elysée, the fortress like Kremlin, the hulking Great Hall of the People in Beijing. But no leader has an office quite like Edi Rama, the prime minister of Albania. Covering the walls of his office in Tirana […]

It’s Christmas

It’s Christmas

Hello! Christmas is coming, but, what is Christmas? Christmas is, or perhaps it’s better to say Christmas should be, a time of spirituality, family, souvenir, a time of quality and intensity to share, to be quiet, to keep calm…A time to see the beauty. For you to enjoy beauty, this […]

Bob Dylan as a visual artist

Bob Dylan as a visual artist

Long before Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature this year, pundits used to talk about “Dylan versus Keats”, as if you had to choose, and as if Dylan’s poetic transformations of folk song are really so different from what John Keats does in his eerie ballad La […]

The vandals of ISIS: Nimrud’s case

The vandals of ISIS: Nimrud’s case

Another defeat for Isis, another ancient civilization rescued from further acts of deliberate destruction. Nimrud, site of one of the great palaces of the Assyrian empire, has been taken by Iraqi forces after a fierce battle with Islamists. The liberation of its ruins follows the Assad regime’s recapture of what’s […]

Italy’s earthquake and cultural richness

Italy’s earthquake and cultural richness

Certainly, buildings are not people. It is an immense mercy that, so far as is currently known, there were no fatalities in the latest earthquake to hit central Italy. Yet I can’t help mourning the basilica of St Benedict in Norcia. To see such a beautiful old building destroyed is […]

Artemisia Gentileschi, the hero of her own life

Artemisia Gentileschi, the hero of her own life

Two women are holding a man down on a bed. One presses her first against his head, so he can’t raise it from the mattress, while her companion pins his torso in place. They are well-built with powerful arms but even so it takes their combined strength to keep their […]

The reality is more powerful than art? Well…

The reality is more powerful than art? Well…

The other day I watched stuff turn into art when I saw Tracey Emin assemble My Bed, one of the most controversial ready-mades ever created. At the start of her installation there was a mattress on a plinth and two tables of carefully bagged objects. By the time she’d finished, […]