Gunpowder Art in Oxford

The Ashmolean, Is the oldest museum in the world, as we keep reminding ourselves, but at the same time putting on some great cutting edge free exhibitions from time to time. The current example is a terrific display of gunpowder art – yes gunpowder art. Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang (b. 1957) is known for his…

Blake at the Tate Britain

Relevance is the key to great art. If painting is not relevant in its day then it is pointless. But when that relevance transgresses the ages it is even more valuable to us.  William Blake is one of those greats whose message is as relevant today as it was 250 years ago. The Tate Britain…

Munich – The Lenbachhaus

Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). I am never quite sure whether it is an art movement, a book, an exhibition or what. I do know that for a few short years before the First World War it represented a group of avant garde artists based in Bavaria, when Munich was the centre of the…

Florence and more Masaccios

Florence has so much renaissance art to offer the tourist. This morning we went to the Uffizi Gallery which must have more masterpieces per square metre than any other building I have ever been in… but more about that another time. The Santa Maria Del Carmine on the other side of the river was our…

Florence – Massacio’s Trinity

University staff have decided to go on strike so we have decided to skip Venice for a couple of days and see Florence. Have not been here for years because of all the low life but despite that you just have to stand in awe at the sites.  Santa Maria Novella is first port of…

November Painting of the Month

My Painting of the Month for November comes from the inspirational Indian  pavilion at the Venice Biennale. “Zameen”, 1955, a controversial frieze painting, several feet long, from 1955; it has been alternatively praised and vilified by critics over the years but has become an established icon of Indian Modern Art.  The theme is typical of twentieth…

Venice Biennale – Jon Rafman

May You Live in interesting Times. The strap line for the Venice Biennale 2019 is very relevant. We do live in interesting times but the contemporary art on show may suggest a different strap – May you live in Challenging times. While in Venice we have seen a lot of art here placed in contradictory…

Zuloaga – Bilbao

Bilbao has transformed over the last thirty years from a city dependent on trade and heavy industry to become a modern cultural capital. We visited the Guggenheim, Frank Gehry’s masterpiece, last time here and decided on the Museo de la Belles Artes this time. There was an exhibition of the Spanish artist, Ignacio Zuloaga, not…

Keith Haring – Liverpool

London buses. There used to be an expression along the lines of “you wait ages for a red bus and then two come along together. I feel a little like that with “stick man” art. Having enjoyed the A R Penck show at The Ashmolean, my next trip was to Tate Liverpool for Keith Haring….

Piero di Cosimo – The Forest Fire

The gift or discovery of fire has fascinated all manner of prehistory, mythological and cultural investigation from the cave dwellers to Disney (Baloo the bear). And it is the subject of my Painting of the Month for August. The Ashmolean has a great collection of artefacts including some iconic Renaissance panel paintings. The Forest Fire…