Martin Gayford

‘Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman’ or ‘The Music Lesson’, 1662–5, by Vermeer

Artistic taste is inversely proportional to political nous

28 November 2015 9:00 am

‘Wherever the British settle, wherever they colonize,’ observed the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon, ‘they carry and will ever carry trial…

‘May Day’, 1866, by Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron: the Leonardo of photography

21 November 2015 9:00 am

Ruskin dismissed Julia Margaret Cameron’s photographs as untrue. But, argues Martin Gayford, the same could be said of any picture

'Antennae with Red and Blue Dots' by Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder: the man who made abstract art fly

14 November 2015 9:00 am

One day, in October 1930, Alexander Calder visited the great abstract painter Piet Mondrian in his apartment in Paris. The…

'Contrast (Order and Chaos)' (1950) by M.C. Escher

M.C. Escher: limited, repetitive, but he deserves a place in art history

7 November 2015 9:00 am

‘Surely,’ mused the Dutch artist M.C. Escher, ‘it is a bit absurd to draw a few lines and then claim:…


Repetitive but compelling: Giacometti at the National Portrait Gallery reviewed

24 October 2015 9:00 am

One day in 1938 Alberto Giacometti saw a marvellous sight on his bedroom ceiling. It was ‘a thread like a…

Master strokes: 'Head of William Feaver', 2003, by Frank Auerbach

With this Tate Britain exhibition, Frank Auerbach joins the masters

17 October 2015 8:00 am

No sooner had I stepped into the private view of Frank Auerbach’s exhibition at Tate Britain than I bumped into…

A novel in paint: Goya's 'The Family of the Infante Don Luís' (1783-4)

Why did Goya’s sitters put up with his brutal honesty?

10 October 2015 9:00 am

Sometimes, contrary to a widespread suspicion, critics do get it right. On 17 August, 1798 an anonymous contributor to the…

‘Dead Rabbit’, 1962, by Dennis Creffield

On the frontiers of figuration, abstraction and total immateriality

3 October 2015 8:00 am

The artist, according to Walter Sickert, ‘is he who can take a piece of flint and wring out of it…

Detail from Gundestrup cauldron, 100 BC–AD 1

The British Museum's Celtic masterpieces aren't Celtic - but they are fabulous

26 September 2015 8:00 am

‘Celtic’ is a word heavily charged with meanings. It refers, among other phenomena, to a football club, a group of…

Left: ‘The Virgin and the Child’, c.1509, by Raphael Right: ‘Portrait of an unknown young woman’, c.1435, by Rogier van der Weyden

How silverpoint revolutionised art

12 September 2015 9:00 am

Marshall McLuhan got it at least half right. The medium may not always be the entire message, but it certainly…

Ravilious in Essex: ‘Two Women in the Garden’, watercolour, 1932

The only art is Essex

29 August 2015 9:00 am

When I went to visit Edward Bawden he vigorously denied that there were any modern painters in Essex. That may…

Walter Sickert 'The Theatre of the Young Artists' (1890)

Between the death of Turner and advent of Bacon, there was no greater British painter

22 August 2015 9:00 am

Walter Sickert was fluid in both his art and his personality: changeable in style and technique, mutable in appearance —…

‘Turning Road (Route Tournante)’, c.1905, by Paul Cézanne

I can’t stop thinking about the Courtauld’s Unfinished exhibition

15 August 2015 9:00 am

A while ago, David Hockney mused on a proposal to tax the works of art stored in artists’ studios. ‘You’d…

Turner's 'Shakespeare Cliff, Dover' (c.1825)

Whole worlds are conjured up in a few strokes: Watercolour at the Fitzwilliam Museum reviewed

1 August 2015 9:00 am

I learnt to splash about in watercolour at my grandmother’s knee. Or rather, sitting beside her crouched over a pad…

Portrait photograph of Richard Dadd painting Contradiction (c.1857) in Bedlem

The artist who only turned into a major painter once he became a homicidal maniac

25 July 2015 9:00 am

Charles Dickens’s description of Cobham Park, Kent, in The Pickwick Papers makes it seem a perfect English landscape. Among its…

‘Stonehenge’, c.1827, by J.M.W. Turner

There’s not a trace of shaving foam in sight in the early Turners on show at Salisbury Museum

18 July 2015 9:00 am

It has often been related how, towards the end of his long life, a critical barb got under J.M.W. Turner’s…

Detail of a maiolica vase, c.1565–1571, a star piece for both Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill and later for Baron Ferdinand at Waddesdon Manor

Forget Vienna - Britain now has its own chamber of curiosities at the British Museum

11 July 2015 9:00 am

Art is not jewellery. Its value does not reside in the price of the materials from which it is made.…

‘Untitled (Tilly Losch)’, c.1935–38, by Joseph Cornell

Poetic or pretentious? Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust at the Royal Academy reviewed

4 July 2015 9:00 am

Someone once asked Joseph Cornell who was his favourite abstract artist of his time. It was a perfectly reasonable question…

‘Sculpture with Colour (Deep Blue and Red) [6]’, 1943, by Barbara Hepworth

Was Barbara Hepworth a giant of modern sculpture - or a dreary relic of post-war Britain?

27 June 2015 9:00 am

In the last two decades of her life, Barbara Hepworth was a big figure in the world of art. A…

Carsten Höller's 'Flying Mushrooms' (2015). Photo: Linda Nylind

The artist who turned the Hayward Gallery into Disney World

20 June 2015 9:00 am

Gianlorenzo Bernini stressed the difficulty of making a sculpture of a person out of a white material such as marble.…

West Façade Illumination, 2015, by James Turrell

James Turrell interview: ‘I sell blue sky and coloured air’

13 June 2015 9:00 am

Martin Gayford talks to the artist James Turrell, who has lit up Houghton Hall like a baroque firework display

RA Summer Exhibition 2015. Photo: John Bodkin / Royal Academy of Arts

Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition reviewed: a jumble sale with pizzazz

6 June 2015 9:00 am

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition has very little in common with the Venice Biennale. However they do share one characteristic.…

Grayson Perry's 'Walthamstow Tapestry' (2009)

Grayson Perry - heir to Lewis Caroll and William Blake

30 May 2015 9:00 am

At the Turner Prize dinner of 2003, as the winner, Grayson Perry, took a photo call with his family wearing…

Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima. Photo: Fujitsuka Mitsumasa

Welcome to Japan’s best kept cultural secret: an art island with an underground museum

23 May 2015 9:00 am

In his introductory remarks to the Afro–Eurasian Eclipse, one of his later suites for jazz orchestra, Duke Ellington remarked —…

One of Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s Scots pines in the French Pavilion

Martin Gayford finds a few nice paintings amid the dead trees, old clothes and agitprop of the Venice Biennale

16 May 2015 9:00 am

Martin Gayford finds a few nice paintings amid the dead trees, old clothes and agitprop of the Venice Biennale