Letter from London

News and reviews from England’s capital

Letter from London

Letter from London: Chris Ofili, A Mixtape

Letter from London

Letter from London: Chris Ofili, A Mixtape

Making mixtapes is one of life’s great non-transferable skills; its lack of import in a pragmatic sense is inversely proportional to the amount of time and effort it requires (rewinding, …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Avatarnation!

Letter from London

Letter from London: Avatarnation!

What was it like before the internet was invented? Can you remember? Where did all that pent-up aggression go before you were able to express your rage with the world …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Memento Mori

Letter from London

Letter from London: Memento Mori

The numbers kept coming up in the daily reports. Five here, fourteen there, one day after another. And then the growing figure mounting over a thousand. Peripherally it was ever-present, …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Scrooged

Letter from London

Letter from London: Scrooged

Tate Britain has just unveiled its 22nd annual Christmas Tree, designed, as usual, by a contemporary British artist. The Christmas Tree tradition at the Tate started in 1988 with Bill …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Who Gets To Call It Art?

Letter from London

Letter from London: Who Gets To Call It Art?

It is possible to read the Court’s opinion … in a variety of ways. In saying this, I imply no criticism of the Court, which in those cases was faced …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Remember, remember…

Letter from London

Letter from London: Remember, remember…

In a recent interview in the New Yorker, artist-of-the-moment Urs Fischer said something about how art and memory work together. I can’t remember the exact quote. It was something about …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Outside-In

Letter from London

Letter from London: Outside-In

How many artists are there in the world right now? Let’s be honest. No matter how globalized we’re constantly being reminded the art world is – in symposia, biennales, lists …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Frieze! Rock!

Letter from London

Letter from London: Frieze! Rock!

The Frieze Art Fair, like other kinds of trade fair, isn’t really designed for those outside of the trade it exists to buffer; it’s a bonus if you end up seeing …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Pop Life (It’s The Only Life I Know)

Letter from London

Letter from London: Pop Life (It’s The Only Life I Know)

It’s not cool to be depressed by the brazen commercialism of certain facets of the art world, yet you’d have to have a heart of stone not to leave Pop …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Kapoortalism

Letter from London

Letter from London: Kapoortalism

There’s a big lump of birdshit in the eye of Joshua Reynolds. The painter and founder of the Royal Academy, who once literally took a Titian painting to bits to …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Beck to the Future!

Letter from London

Letter from London: Beck to the Future!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkcvrV4UhTM] The “cultural cringe” – the crippling inferiority complex that members of a particular country feel about their homeland, as evidenced in the bluffed provenance of just about every college …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Hot Scots, Part Deux

Letter from London

Letter from London: Hot Scots, Part Deux

Sometimes the most interesting thing about an artist is the disparity between their work and the established perception of it. Eva Hesse, the late German-American sculptor of ratty latex and …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Hot Scots, Part Un

Letter from London

Letter from London: Hot Scots, Part Un

In a big, sprawling, multi-tentacular artsfest like the Edinburgh Festival, certain forms of art – like, say, one-woman mime interpretations of the career of Robin Williams, or freestyle macrame workshops …

BOMB in the Building

Letter from London

No Preservatives: Conversations about Conservation

What's Cookin': The Art21ndex

Art21 Extended Play

What’s Cookin at the Art21 Blog: A Weekly Index

BOMB in the Building

Letter from London

No Preservatives: Conversations about Conservation

What's Cookin': The Art21ndex

Art21 Extended Play

What’s Cookin at the Art21 Blog: A Weekly Index

It’s mealtime! Join Sonya for a fine helping of nutrients and adventure with this week’s Index: Round ‘em up Nicole! Here’s what Art21 artists have been up to this past …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Vandalabra!

Letter from London

Letter from London: Vandalabra!

Last Sunday, a Russian woman walked through the galleries of the Louvre Museum in Paris carrying a small empty ceramic tea cup, which, upon arriving in one of the museum’s …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Doublecrossed

Letter from London

Letter from London: Doublecrossed

News of artists famous in one field crossing over into another is very often met with public derision. Bruce Willis, one of the most talented pub-rockers of the late 1980s …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Jeff – Dumb and Blind(ing)

Letter from London

Letter from London: Jeff – Dumb and Blind(ing)

In Herbert Ross’s magisterial 1987 film The Secret of My Success, Michael J. Fox plays Brantley Foster, a charming chancer who works his way up (spoiler alert!) from mailroom to …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Peyton for Godot

Letter from London

Letter from London: Peyton for Godot

I don’t understand why anyone would like Elizabeth Peyton, but I also don’t understand why anyone would like egg whites or Coldplay or The Shawshank Redemption, so maybe I’ll never …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Dearth in Venice

Letter from London

Letter from London: Dearth in Venice

There’s a school of thought that claims that any large-scale survey of art conducted in any year in history will have its share of peaks and troughs, but holding the …

Letter from London

Letter from London: YBA Baracas

Letter from London

Letter from London: YBA Baracas

There is a new display of contemporary British art at Tate Britain entitled Classified, whose title picks up on a number of predilections and inferences of the works it shows, …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Dead as a Dada

Letter from London

Letter from London: Dead as a Dada

The problem with writing about contemporary painting is that it ends up being an excuse for a riffle through the thesaurus for the most headily baroque terms to describe the …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Everybody Be Cool, This Is An Art Gallery!

Letter from London

Letter from London: Everybody Be Cool, This Is An Art Gallery!

If  Abstract America, the new show of contemporary American painting and sculpture at the Saatchi Gallery, were a film, it’d be one of those earnest indie dramas made for hipster …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Pumping Irony

Letter from London

Letter from London: Pumping Irony

Interactivity is now so commonplace at Tate Modern that I sometimes wonder if visitors are disappointed when they see works of art they aren’t allowed to touch. Not that they don’t. …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Parisian Break

Letter from London

Letter from London: Parisian Break

(Disclaimer: this Letter from London is actually from Paris.) Paris’s gallery zone, clustered for the most part around the Marais district east of the center, is so amazingly lovely and …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Comics Trip

Letter from London

Letter from London: Comics Trip

(Disclaimer: this Letter from London is actually from Paris. Apologies.) Speaking French makes your mouth assume a range of attractive poses, which is why I always say the word boulangerie …

Letter from London

Letter from London: The Bubble with Troubles

Letter from London

Letter from London: The Bubble with Troubles

  Working in contemporary art is like being part of a huge extended family of annoying extroverts. “Yes…I’m related to them,” you end up having to explain, as they pull …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Attempts on Her Life

Letter from London

Letter from London: Attempts on Her Life

You go into a room full of paintings and every single one is identical, floor to ceiling. They’re packed in about an inch apart, each no more than the size …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Turner Round, Bright Eyes!

Letter from London

Letter from London: Turner Round, Bright Eyes!

I don’t know: maybe there will be a time when the announcement of the Turner Prize nominees won’t be greeted with a tiresome trotting-out of hoary old journalistic cliches (yes, …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Golden Graham

Letter from London

Letter from London: Golden Graham

I’m sure (as in: I’m not sure) that there is a film in which Laurel or Hardy or Buster or Harpo rides a horse backwards, isn’t there, maybe after being …

Flash Points

Letter from London

Letter from London: Guernica Revisited

Flash Points

Letter from London

Letter from London: Guernica Revisited

It seems impossible now that an institution like the Museum of Modern Art would lend, say, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon or The Red Studio at all, let alone to a small …

Flash Points

Letter from London

Letter from London: Face Value

Flash Points

Letter from London

Letter from London: Face Value

You can’t have a job in museum education without being asked, at some point, “What’s that worth?” Depending on the questioner, how well the tour went, and how loyal you’re feeling, …

Letter from London

Letter from London: The Eighties Revival

Letter from London

Letter from London: The Eighties Revival

The new thing at Tate Modern, three rooms of mainly huge paintings from the 1980s, is timelier than it knows. These works are taken from the UBS collection, the investment …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Plinth of Thieves

Letter from London

Letter from London: Plinth of Thieves

Good news! We’re living in “a golden age of public art,” characterized by “a change in art’s very nature, from an aesthetic, spiritual and intellectual function to a principally social …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Primo Puryear

Letter from London

Letter from London: Primo Puryear

It’s easy for contemporary art cynics to criticize the Bushesque debasement of language that goes on every day in the art world. I’ve actually started to take to the byzantine …

Letter from London

Letter from London: Richter Scale

Letter from London

Letter from London: Richter Scale

I didn’t expect to crack a smile during the new show of Gerhard Richter’s portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery. Especially at a Gerhard Richter show. He is an artist …

Letter from London

Letter from London: See you later, contemporary art curator!

Letter from London

Letter from London: See you later, contemporary art curator!

Pity the poor curator, scapegoat of the contemporary art sceptic. It’s hard not to feel at least a little sorry for Nicholas Bourriaud, curator of Tate Britain’s Altermodern, who has …