Has the National Gallery gone off the boil?

Lamentation

You have to go all the way back to the Rembrandt the Late Works exhibition in October 2014 to find a stand out exhibition at the National Gallery. What’s followed since then hasn’t been devoid of interest, but is it as interesting as the current Vermeer at the Louvre? Certainly not. This ultimately is the National Gallery’s immediate peer group and the type of exhibition it will be judged against.

Having been severely underwhelmed by the Australian Impressionists, I had high hopes for Michelangelo and Sebastiano. Continue reading Has the National Gallery gone off the boil?

What to look forward to in 2017…

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For me, my artistic year really doesn’t get going till next weekend when we are going to be visiting Lisbon to see just four paintings! Yes, I know, but to be honest I’m sure we’ll have a great time and with a Raphael, a Piero della Francesca and a Durer amongst others on the ‘must see’ list it will be great.

My visit this weekend to see the Australian Impressionist exhibition at the weekend left me with the distinct feeling that the National Gallery has lost its way a little. I’ve not really enjoyed the last 3-4 exhibitions and other UK based Galleries don’t seem to have the same draw for me as they did with some great shows like Giorgione at the RA in 2016.

So this year I’ll be casting my net a little further afield. Continue reading What to look forward to in 2017…

Brilliance and Lotto in Bergamo

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I’m unashamedly a big fan of the mega museums. I keep lists and tick them off. Yes, I’m that geeky. But it’s also important to recognise the great collections elsewhere. Recently my travels took me to Bergamo and the Accademia Carrara.

It has recently undergone a makeover (it was closed from 2008-15) and the result is impressive. This is one of the best run museums Continue reading Brilliance and Lotto in Bergamo

Caravaggio Rediscovered

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Over the recent holidays I spent a few days being shown around Milan for the first time by my wife, who went to university in the city. With my list of some 28 paintings in hand, a priority stop for me was the Pinoteca di Brera. It’s certainly undergoing a real transformation under its impressive new Director. The energy he’s brought to the institution was evident in the new signs popping up at various points as well as the ongoing rehang.

But what really caught my attention in the gallery was the small little display entitled “Caravaggio. Readings and Re-readings” and, in particular, the recently discovered Judith Beheads Holofernes from Toulouse.

Is it indeed by the master himself? Continue reading Caravaggio Rediscovered

Topping the list: Is the National Gallery of Art really the best in the world?

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I’m a serial lover of lists, especially those about art and art museums around the world. A few years back I read a ‘Worlds 50 Best Art Gallery’s’ feature in The Times and thought that I needed to do more to get around them. I kept the paper and I’ve annotated each entry with the date I visited so far managing 29/50 in almost four years. You can read the feature (even if you aren’t a subscriber) on the following three links.

There are many other lists out there: Trip Advisor even has its own crowd sourced version, the Independent has a particularly good list of the UK and the Telegraph has a decent one on a largely European city basis. You can even do the online equivalent of rating yourself using this link. I make the top 1% Continue reading Topping the list: Is the National Gallery of Art really the best in the world?

A tale of two Cultural Cities

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The very concept of what constitutes culture arouses a fair bit of discussion even in my office, not least as one of my colleagues originally hails from Hull. On 1st January 2017 the city will take up its place as the UKs City of Culture. I could just about cope with understanding the concept behind Liverpool as the European Capital of Culture in 2008. But I just don’t see Hull as cultural. Perhaps it’s simply because I grew up not a million miles away.

The UK isn’t alone in having its own city of Culture and I was recently fortunate enough to spend a day in the beautiful northern Italian town of Mantua. Continue reading A tale of two Cultural Cities

Heathrow Expansion: it’s doomed before take-off

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I have to begin with a confession. I use Heathrow at least once a week and have done so for the last 6 years. I can’t even being to recall the number of times that I’ve circled the skies above the airport or been delayed at either take-off or landing by a late running service. So I ought to be a natural champion of the expansion plans.  Except for one thing: I live in Putney and I’m one of the 725,000 people who is currently affected by the airport. Continue reading Heathrow Expansion: it’s doomed before take-off