Civilisation

“In the towns and cities of northern Italy the streets have a heavy impasto of history, a composition in which everyone lives. The landscape is layered with reinvention”

A revival in figurative art and the changing face of portraiture

Privileged images: the photography of Jacques Henri Lartigue

How Jan van Eyck changed the trajectory of Western art

Based on the impulse to look at everything afresh, Modernist photography could not help but deliver a jumble of perspectives, on both sides of the Atlantic

“There’s something enticing about a belief that great men are in command of history. It is easier, perhaps, to deal with that than to deal with the more alarming possibility that the norms which underpinned post-war liberalism are fraying”

“Current events would seem to suggest that there is no consensus on what “our values” might actually be. Society is more divided than at any time I can recall in my lifetime”

“Understanding a culture’s magic is as important as understanding its religion or science. It can bring us closer to the mindset of a people that might otherwise seem completely alien to us now”

“Innovation — it’s the reason you’re almost certainly richer than your great-grandparents, why your lighting at home is powered by electricity rather than refined lamb fat, and why your hulking great suitcase has wheels”

Søren Kierkegaard’s reflections on worry are useful reading for those in lockdown

The ornithologist W.H. Hudson sought wilderness in the city. It is as if he was writing for us today

“Complete solitude” in a remote Norwegian village led to the most productive time of his life

John Buchan was a writer with a rich hinterland—and an affection for “shockers”

Louis de Funès may be France’s most beloved actor. The choice tells us a lot about those who love him

Having stolen a Klimt masterpiece, the Nazis could only show it if they hid the Jewish identity of its subject

A new thriller set in late-Stalinist Soviet Union has alarmed Russian authorities

A psychologist and sex therapist wonders where E.L. James’s celebration of sadomasochism comes from and what it means for human relationships  

Does the idea of the composer covertly commenting on totalitarianism improve his music?

A single body of work, such as the piano concertos, can provide an inexhaustible spring of delight

A celebration of Sufi sounds in Rajasthan offers much to treasure

Musical excellence can blunt the edge of political disputes

‘Vast swathes of the television production community stopped working overnight. Any television show involving camera crews, studio audiences, the general public, travel, or proximity of any kind, was, at best, postponed indefinitely; at worst, cancelled outright’

Hollywood lacks the wit and the will to convey the complexities of the secret world

A film about the the Holodomor’s exposure should prompt debate on the famine-denialist Walter Duranty

Jewish boys who survived the Holocaust recall their time in a charmed Italian villa

A delicate ecosystem has been disrupted. The effects are dire

Hard times on stage—and off it

Tom Stoppard’s roots and Caryl Churchill’s dystopia

The National finds a niche in staging literary adaptations while Shakespeare returns to school in the Donmar’s Teenage Dick