“There are two versions of the events of 1887. One is very well known; the other is not.” Hold the front page because this Sunday Times bestseller and winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction is now out in paperback. It took the bestseller list by storm last year,[…]

Victoria’s Book Reviews: The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

This is a substantial biography of one of most iconic 20th century artists and a genuine feminist icon. Celia, after all, is an author who knows her stuff, given that she is a Professor on modern American and contemporary art at the University of San Francisco. Ostensibly, the book focuses on[…]

Victoria’s Book Reviews: Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist by Celia Stahr

There’ve been two key trends in art exhibitions recently – the blockbuster and the overlooked artist. Now, one of these I’m enjoying a lot more than the other. After all, even I know there is a limit to how many Picasso shows the world needs (she says with a heavy[…]

Art Review: Felix Vallotton: Painter of Disquiet, Royal Academy ‘Sometimes Artists are Overlooked for a Reason’

So, yes, I’ve cribbed a Janelle Monae lyric for the title of this review but not only is it the perfect description for this autobiographical piece on sexual assault, it also emphasises the extent to which this blend of theatre and performance art hits both the head and the heart.[…]

Theatre Review: This Egg’s dressed, Battersea Arts Centre, ‘Powerful with a Little Bit of Tender’

I don’t know why I thought this would be a big exhibition; I had imagined this display of Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) paintings would fill many of the NPG’s ground floor galleries. After all, this is a very familiar name indeed. Yet actually this is a small and intimate show –[…]

Art Review: Gainsborough’s Family Album, National Portrait Gallery ‘Small but Hugely Impressive’

There are some big names included in Shape Shifters, the latest exhibition at the Hayward Gallery that considers how some contemporary artists have challenged and distorted our perceptions of the space around us. Yayoi Kusama is a big draw, obviously – especially as many struggled to get tickets to see[…]

Art Review: Shape Shifters, Hayward Gallery ‘Fascinating and Genuinely Thought-Provoking’

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine… We’re in October so as far as I’m concerned that is the signal to kick off my favourite time of year and, as a self-appointed member of Santa’s little helpers, I’m here to help those of you searching for gifts for the art lovers in[…]

Christmas Gifts for Art Lovers

I have been watching Bryony’s shows for years; it was often her work – their intoxicating blend of autobiography and performance art – that kept my passion for theatre burning during some dry periods. But I have often wondered what pressure Bryony Kimmings works under to be ‘Bryony Kimmings.’ What[…]

Theatre Review: Bryony Kimmings: I’m a Phoenix, Bitch, Battersea Arts Centre ‘Traumatic Glory’

So, the beautiful Courtauld Gallery has now closed its doors for a few years for a major refurbishment. But what to do with its unrivalled collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces? No doubt many will be sent on loan the world over but what a fantastic opportunity this exhibition was[…]

Art Review: Courtauld Impressionists: From Manet to Cezanne, National Gallery ‘Not as Good as It Could Have Been’

Reading the precis of Jo Clifford’s Losing Venice, which she wrote back in the mid-80s, you can see what caught the Orange Tree’s attention: a fading empire propped up by leaders intoxicated on vanity and masculinity, each bristling with ambition, as they dine out on illusions of faded glory and[…]

Theatre Review: Losing Venice, Orange Tree Theatre ‘A Sparkling, Playful Absurdist Comedy’

I suppose it’s not the best of starts for a review when I disagree with the playwright about what their actual play was about but then, hey, given the wave of plaudits that has greeted this production of Brian Friel’s masterpiece, Translations, which is running at the National, I feel[…]

Review: Translations, National Theatre ‘The Wrong Production of the Right Play in the Wrong Theatre’

Any publisher that markets a new book as “the next Wild Swans” (or indeed “the next [insert title of any great book here]”) always runs a gauntlet. Sure, you’re grabbing that established audience and immediately conveying the subject and tone of the book but, oh, you’re playing with fire. That’s[…]

Victoria’s Week in the Arts: Once Upon a Time in the East, Katharina Grosse and Sex with Robots

I have a love for shows with shiny, sparkly packaging that, underneath this tinsel, have a web of big issues and questions. Instructions for Correct Assembly is just that type of play. We’re set in a brightly coloured near-future where all lines are clean and perfect, and our homes are[…]

Theatre Review: Instructions for Correct Assembly, Royal Court ‘Funny, Charming and Brilliantly Executed’

It brings me much joy that we currently seem to be in a phase where women artists are being celebrated, and where women-specific and women-centric exhibitions are popular – both in terms of galleries putting them on and visitors attending them. This makes me happy., Yet in a field that[…]

Art Review: Virginia Woolf: An Exhibition Inspired by Her Writings, Tate St. Ives, ‘Brilliant and Thrilling’

The first adjective that springs to mind when I think of Monet’s works is ‘beautiful’. In fact, it is such an easy association that I often struggle to define his works any other way – waterlilies? Beautiful; bridge at Giverny? Beautiful; blossom on trees? Beautiful. I mean, such is Monet’s[…]

Art Review: Monet & Architecture, National Gallery ‘Extraordinary Display of Beautiful Works’

It seems such a surprise that such an extraordinary exhibition of American modern art – as this is – should be hosted at a Museum more familiar with pre-Renaissance European art and archaeology, yet it is because its collection of such older works is so impressive that this remarkable show[…]

Art Review: America’s Cool Modernism, Ashmolean Museum ‘A Stunning, Fascinating Exhibition’

I had been very much looking forward to this exhibition, and it didn’t disappoint. For, here, The Photographers’ Gallery has gathered together a rare selection of found, largely anonymous, photographs of men and women posing for the camera, using the apparel and gestures traditionally assigned to the ‘opposite sex’. With[…]

Art Review: Under Cover: A Secret History of Cross Dressers, The Photographers’ Gallery ‘A Delight’

In the 1980s, a curious phenomenon was identified in coastal towns in Japan. People were going missing; ordinary people who were going out for walks on the beaches and cliffs were disappearing, vanishing into thin air, without any sign of a struggle, suicide or washed-up body. It turned out that[…]

Theatre Review: The Great Wave, National Theatre ‘Emotional Impact Makes Up For Patchy Elements’

It’s been one week since I saw Summer and Smoke and I’m still struggling to find the words. Not because I remain unsure of my reaction to it – far from it; this production is an extraordinary, soaring study of the fragility and strength of a woman’s spirit – rather[…]

Theatre Review: Summer and Smoke, Almeida Theatre ‘A Soaring Study of the Fragility and Strength of a Woman’s Spirit’

Families are a nightmare. Bound by blood and collective memory, but divided by historical grudges, simmering resentments and personality clashes. How on earth can we successfully navigate our families??! It’s chaos out there, and no sooner has one argument been sorted out then another surprise springs out from leftfield. If[…]

Theatre Review: Humble Boy, Orange Tree Theatre ‘Tangled Family Ties and Astrophysics Collide’

The full title of this new show at the National Portrait Gallery is, Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography and given that’s this exhibition’s objective – to examine how four key photographers harnessed new developments in technology to bridge the art of the past with the art of the[…]

Art Review: Victorian Giants, National Portrait Gallery ‘Beautiful, Groundbreaking Photography’

About midway through this magical and mysterious new play from Annie Baker, one of the characters, Genevieve, is talking to her sister, Mertis, and a guest at Mertis’s B&B, Jenny, about her nervous breakdown. For Genevieve, she started seeing hearing her ex-husband’s voice and sensing his malevolent influence in family,[…]

Theatre Review: John, National Theatre ‘Breathtakingly Beautiful in its Mysteriousness’

There is something immediately effortlessly nostalgic about Polaroids, and this collection of personal and unseen photos from Oscar-nominated director, Wim Wenders, makes for a particularly wistful exhibition that evokes all the feels for Americana and that great road trip through the instantly recognisable – and filmic – American landscapes and[…]

Art Review: Wim Wenders’ Polaroids, The Photographers’ Gallery ‘Nostalgic, Romantic’

So, I feel like a bit ‘cup half-empty’ about this review and I don’t mean to be for Cezanne Portraits really is worthy of its ‘once in a lifetime’ description – this is the first time since his death that over fifty portraits painted by the great man have been[…]

Art Review: Cezanne Portraits, National Portrait Gallery ‘Modern Portraits by the Most Modern of Artists’

Would you believe it? Another month and The Ferryman and Hamlet don’t make the cut again! I know, cruel, right? (Though, interestingly, there was a thought-provoking article this past month on concerns over the Irish stereotypes Jez Butterworth harnesses in his much-feted play). I would still recommend both of them[…]

Top Ten London Stage Shows, August 2017

So, as the exhibitions and galleries gear up for the busy Summer season, so we get a flood of new shows to appreciate and enjoy! Big name blockbusters, such as Giacometti at the Tate and Michelangelo at the National Gallery, are joined by the institution that is the Summer Exhibition[…]

Top Ten London Art Shows, June 2017