Category Archives: Art History

The Arc of Utopia in the anniversary year of Russia 1917

Not much enthusiasm has been directed towards the Russian Revolution in this year of its centenary, 2017. At least that’s the case in the British press. Before the fall of Communism in 1989 and the end of the Soviet Union … Continue reading

Posted in Arc of Utopia - my latest book, Art History, Britain Today, Cold War, Philosophy and Philosophers, Russia, Russian Revolution 1917 | Tagged , , , , ,

Wolfgang Tillmans and his Fragile alter ego

Though reviewers speak blithely of its beauty and the curators wax lyrical over the artist’s sense of the social and the communal, none of these qualities appear to the fore in Wolfgang Tillmans’s 2017 exhibition at Tate Modern. It’s not … Continue reading

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The Royal Academy’s show Revolution and the historic meaning of the 1932 Russian Artists’ exhibition

The Russian Revolution as seen through the history of its paintings and artefacts has delighted and confused visitors to London’s Royal Academy this early Spring. Despite many works by the much loved and admired Kazimir Malevich, and magnificent photographs by … Continue reading

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Adorno, the Frankfurt School and the Soul of Europe

No one who has read Theodore Adorno would have been surprised by last summer’s Charlie Hebdo cartoon when Amatrice, an Italian town otherwise known for its pasta sauce, suffered a fatal earthquake. The French magazine with its satirical pasta shapes … Continue reading

Posted in A Shoe Story, Art History, Britain Today, Europe, Frankfurt School, German Literature, Philosophy and Philosophers, Things German | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jocelyn Brooke’s ‘Drawn Sword’ — An English ‘Death in Venice’?

I was reading Jocelyn Brooke during a period of thinking again about an old love, the German genius Thomas Mann. Brooke is a serious-minded English writer from the mid twentieth century. He was a fine stylist, and with that went … Continue reading

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Siegfried Kracauer’s idea of ‘Mass Ornament’

Mass society as its own ornament was how the German social critic Siegfried Kracauer understood the street life of the dying years of the Weimar Republic. You can find this clever idea which brings us right to the present day … Continue reading

Posted in A Shoe Story, Art History, Britain Today, Current Affairs, Things German, Who are you?, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Conservative British Childhood Two Hundred Years Ago John Ruskin and his Parents

Ruskin born in February 1819 was five years old when his parents took him to visit the field of Waterloo. It was a moment in an heroic Tory childhood he might like to have remembered better. His autobiography Praeterita records his … Continue reading

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