Manners and Modernity: Pictures of the Floating World

Currently displayed at the V&A is a selection of “manner posters” originally shown across Tokyo’s Seibu Railway network between 2016 and 2019. The small exhibition also includes original “ukiyo-e” prints, demonstrating the artistic influences that inspired the posters….

Rembrandt - Self Portrait with Two Circles

A journey through Rembrandt’s Self Portraits

2019 marks the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death (1669) – and events are taking place throughout Europe (and beyond) to celebrate the work of this true pioneer. One exhibition I am particularly looking forward to is Rembrandt’s Light at London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery, opening on 4 October.

Hannah Hoch - Nude Woman Collage

Dada – Pioneering the Patriarchy?

This Long Read blog is inspired in part by my current teaching on Germany in the inter-war years and partly as a self-admonition to visit the current Tate Modern exhibition on Weimar Germany! Titled “Magic Realism” (and on until 14 July), this free show promises an encounter with the “uncanny and mysterious” through the art…

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) - Adoration of the Magi (c.1480-82)

Myth and Mysticism: Christian depictions of the Nativity

To assess the issues raised by Barthes’ Mythologies (highlighting the tendency of socially constructed narratives, and assumptions to become “naturalised” i.e. taken unquestioningly as given within cultures), first consider his discussion of wine. Barthes notes its adoption as a French national drink…

From Degas to Picasso (or, Revolutions and Institutions)

The Ashmolean’s latest exhibition Degas to Picasso seeks to tell ‘one of the most compelling stories in the history of art – the rise of modernism’. Self-styled as a ‘ground-breaking’ narrative through this truly creative epoch, epitomised by the bohemian atmosphere of twentieth century Paris – it does indeed tell a truly compelling tale. As…

New Landscapes and Old Masters

Last weekend, I visited Liu Dan’s New Landscapes and Old Masters exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. It was one of the most beautiful and most intellectually exciting shows that I have seen for a very long time – and spoke not only to the nature of aesthetic appreciation and presentation, but also the processes…