art

Prussian Blue

March 26, 2021 0 Comments
Prussian Blue

Like a teenager, C. has fallen hopelessly in love, with a visitor from the Continent.  I didn’t see it coming.  And the worst thing is that I’m not sure it’s a temporary infatuation that will soon pass.  It’s taken a firm hold on her affections.  Only time will tell whether everything will end in tears. […]

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Thomas Jones’s ‘A wall in Naples’

January 29, 2021 3 Comments
Thomas Jones’s ‘A wall in Naples’

This week Patrick McGuinness reminded his Twitter followers of a two-part poem he published in his 2004 collection The Canals of Mars, called ‘Two paintings by Thomas Jones’.  The first part, ‘A wall in Naples’, goes like this: I look and look until the nothing that I seeperfects itself. I perfect its lack of interest,as […]

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The Last Bard: loops of an invented tradition

December 26, 2020 2 Comments
The Last Bard: loops of an invented tradition

By now the ‘invented tradition’ is itself a tradition.  Since Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger published their edited collection The invention of tradition in 1983, we’ve become familiar with the idea that rituals, histories and beliefs that seem age-old were actually recent fictions devised with specific purposes in mind. One of the chapters in The […]

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The revolutionary gaze of Constance Mayer

December 19, 2020 2 Comments
The revolutionary gaze of Constance Mayer

In a room a woman, about thirty years of age, sits alone. The room is plain, with two bare walls, dark and grey.  Its furniture is sparse, just a chair and a round table with round brass handles.  The woman wears a simple white cotton dress.  It has a high waistband and lacks sleeves, leaving […]

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The Black Flag

October 30, 2020 1 Comment
The Black Flag

The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery is closed for ‘firewall’ fortnight, but when it reopens you could do worse than pay it a visit.  There are several excellent temporary exhibitions, as well as some seldom-seen items from the permanent collection, including a small display of art on the theme of protest.  Its centrepiece is a striking […]

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Sophonisba’s game of chess

October 9, 2020 0 Comments
Sophonisba’s game of chess

Not before time, the seventeenth century painter Artemisia Gentileschi is now receiving just acclaim, in response to the National Gallery’s new exhibition in London (alas, out of bounds for those of us who are locked down).  Even if her ultra-violent ‘Texas chain-saw massacre’ dramas are too much for you, you can always admire her picture […]

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Cornelius Varley in Wales

July 3, 2020 3 Comments
Cornelius Varley in Wales

Among the many artists who came to draw and paint in Wales around the turn of the eighteenth century, Cornelius Varley is yet to receive just attention.  The pictures he made in Wales are fresh, delicate and strong, the work of a young man with great visual intelligence who reacted with instinctive wonder and clarity […]

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Chaos describ’d

June 19, 2020 0 Comments
Chaos describ’d

These days chaos as a concept has been captured by mathematics and physics. (Sometimes it gets re-exported to the popular imagination through tropes like the butterfly effect.)  But before that it was available to anyone.  It was especially attractive to philosophers, theologians and mystics, and to creative people like writers and artists. Chaos has always […]

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Time and Johannes Vermeer

June 6, 2020 4 Comments
Time and Johannes Vermeer

Today’s the last day of my imaginary return visit to the city of Delft.  As always, it’s been a time of rest and contemplation among the canals and step-gabled houses facing them.  And as usual I’ve been thinking about Delft’s most famous citizen, Johannes Vermeer, and his paintings – this time, the early works that […]

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The assassin waits

May 29, 2020 0 Comments
The assassin waits

In my lockdown tour of Europe I’m still enjoying my virtual stay in the city of Delft.  I’ve walked a little way from the Nieuwe Kerk to the Prinsenhof in Sint Agathaplein.  Today the Prinsenhof is a museum, and a very good one, but in the late sixteenth century it was the government headquarters of […]

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