Andrew Marr has produced a bracing, poignant book that is like no other. Entirely illustrated with his own drawings, it comprises an ambitious attempt by an untaught artist and highly successful journalist to explain how and why drawing, an ancient, currently unfashionable discipline, remains pertinent, life-enhancing and ennobling. For Marr, drawing has constituted a kind of parallel life, consuming energy and delivering rewards-possibly in part because he finds it “hard work” when, having read early and easily, he gets bored listening to others: “Even today I simply cannot sit still and listen to someone talking at me, however clever.”
Some of the most talented artists of early 17th-century Rome were linked by violence as much as skill. Caravaggio was a murderer, Bernini had a lover’s face slashed when she (already married) betrayed him with his brother, Salvator Rosa was said to be part of a gang of thuggish brigands, and Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, who had a charge sheet as long as his arm, once tried to throw his sister off a roof and probably did succeed in killing someone else.
Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) is often compared to Emile Zola. It is easy to see why: both embraced realist techniques to chronicle ordinary urban life in an age of seemingly endless social upheaval.
From October 26 until January 26, 2014, the Royal Academy will show London’s first major exhibition of Daumier’s work, which spans many decades and many mediums. Armed with a mellow palette and a caustic wit, he drew his first politically charged caricatures for journals such as Le Charivari (the model for Punch), lampooning the mannerisms of those in power while casting a sympathetic eye on the working class. His particular distaste for lawyers is on full display in The Defence (c.1865). His bold drawings and biting social commentary led to him being called “the Michelangelo of Caricature”.
Sir Hugh Casson (1910-99) was the John Betjeman of postwar British architecture: the unthreatening, homely face of a sometimes difficult art form. Casson came to notice when, at the age of only 38, he was appointed Director of Architecture for the Festival of Britain. It was his charm and easy manner that enabled such uncompromising buildings as Leslie Martin’s Royal Festival Hall to be built.
His own career as an architect was successful if unspectacular, his most memorable building being the elephant house at London Zoo, which resembles a pachyderm-size cluster of oasthouses. Although Casson trained as a Modernist, his heart lay with traditional architecture and it was this that underlay commissions to design the interiors of the royal yacht Britannia as well as suites of rooms in Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace (he was also, supposedly, the man who taught Prince Charles to paint).
David Jones’s service at the front inspired an epic poem about World War I, “In Parenthesis”. Long neglected, it is ripe for rediscovery
In 1945, Bernard Hailstone painted my father, the journalist Louis Heren, in the Burmese jungle. This is the story of their long friendship
Roy Davids, head of the Manuscripts and Books department at Sotheby’s for many years, built up what must be the most significant privately-owned collection of poets’ manuscripts and memorabilia. This collection is now going under the hammer at Bonhams in London, with roughly half the lots having been sold in April and the rest coming up this month.
When Joseph Heymann, a Jewish manufacturer and art collector from Cologne, fled to London in 1937, he did not leave empty-handed. With him came 70 paintings by Fritz Schaefler, whose patron he had been for more than a decade. These works, now on display at the residence of the German Ambassador in London until April 17, were thought lost for many years. Their rediscovery sheds light on a little-known artist.
For a literary grandee with striking features-all angled nose, chin and eyebrows-T.S. Eliot was much photographed but surprisingly little painted. Wyndham Lewis painted him twice, including one portrait that was rejected by the Royal Academy in 1938 for including a “phallic reference” in the background, but no other artist of note. In 1947 the young Patrick Heron tried his luck on the strength of his father and the poet being friends.
On December 16, Quentin Blake will turn 80, his illustrious career as an artist and illustrator having begun in the pages of Punch in 1948-the year of London’s last Olympic Games. If this was truly a year of celebrating Britain, one could not do much better than end it with Quentin Blake. Yet the work on display at Marlborough Fine Art in London from December 12 is not a retrospective but a bold, new departure for the artist and his enduring genius.
“It’s about five or six ways of doing things,” Blake says of the exhibition, which ranges from lithography to watercolour. The pieces are also very recent, having been painted, sketched or etched in the past year. None of them is an interpretation of a literary work.