Pushing the art of protest to new limits

Pyotr Pavlensky Image copyright DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV
Image caption Pyotr Pavlensky faces a possible prison sentence

If you were going to use art as a form of protest, would you (a) drop an unannounced album on Tidal accompanied by a one-hour special on HBO, or (b) nail your genitals to a paving stone?

I (like you, I'm guessing) would go for A. But that's not an option. We are not Beyonce (when your name auto-corrects on Word, you know you've made it).

If we're hacked off about something important - say, the state of the nation (the real subject of Lemonade) - then what can we do that would have anything like the effect of Ms Knowles-Carter's latest creative endeavour?

Well…there is the unedifying, and let's face it, potentially very painful prospect of nailing your parts to a pavement.

I'm not advocating this as a course of action, and certainly won't be pursuing it myself, but it has proven potency.

Media captionPetr Pavlensky set fire to the door of the FSB, Russia's security service. Photo by Nigina Beroeva, copyright Petr Pavlensky

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Conceptual art: What’s the big idea?

Pablo Bronstein at Tate Britain Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pablo Bronstein makes 'playful investigations into Rubenesque baroque with a dollop of contemporary irony'

I'm down at Tate Britain and chatting to an old friend and half looking at a performance art thing happening in front of us when I realise we are the most attentive inattentive art-watchers at the early evening private view.

So, we weren't exactly concentrating on the choreographic goings-on central to Pablo Bronstein's newly unveiled performance installation, but at least we were giving it a respectful this-is-the-reason-for-all-the-free-hospitality glance.

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Why is Shakespeare more popular than ever?

  • 23 April 2016
  • From the section Magazine
Shakespeare's face in neon lights

It's amazing, don't you think? Shakespeare is more popular today than he has been at any point since his death four centuries ago (there are no hard-and-fast stats to actually prove it, but the scholars to whom I have spoken all agree it is the case).

The Internet has played its part in the brand Bard propagation (Spark Notes, hem, hem), but it has also produced a mountain of alternative, more contemporary content upon which we could choose to feast. And yet it is Shakespeare who has risen to the top. And not just online where he's looked up so much that there are now bespoke Shakespeare search engines.

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Turner on the £20 note

Design for new Bank of England £20 note Image copyright Bank of England

Artist JMW Turner and his painting The Fighting Temeraire will feature on the new design of the Bank of England's £20 note to enter circulation in 2020 - but is it a good choice?

I suppose if you were to choose the most influential British artist whose work resonates around the world and influenced a modern movement, you'd have to choose JMW Turner.

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The musical legacy of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

Media captionSir Peter Maxwell Davies was one of the UK's foremost composers

British composer, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, has died at his home in Orkney at the age of 81. He had been suffering from leukaemia.

He was known for his modern and avant-garde works, but his most famous piece was a simple, haunting lament for solo piano - Farewell To Stromness.

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How will Tate react to losing BP?

Image copyright Getty Images

Ouch! That's my reading of how Tate will have reacted to BP's decision to cease its long-standing corporate support of the gallery.

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Sir George Martin 'made' The Beatles

Image copyright Reuters

Sir George Martin was more than simply the fifth Beatle, insomuch as there probably wouldn't be any Beatles without him. He made them.

When he first heard the band's demo he was unimpressed. But he liked their manager Brian Epstein, he really liked the lads, and he was on the look out for a band for his Parlophone label, which at that point was mainly producing comedy LPs.

Read full article Sir George Martin 'made' The Beatles

How can you spot a real Botticelli?

Media captionBBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz takes a look around Botticelli Reimagined

The largest collection of Sandro Botticelli's works to go on show in Britain since 1930 opens at London's Victoria and Albert Museum on Saturday.

I met curator Ana Debenedetti who explained his appeal and how to spot which paintings are by the master and which are by his assistants.

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Muhammad Ali exhibition to open in London

Media captionThe collection of memorabilia is on show at London's O2

An exhibition celebrating Muhammad Ali's career is to open in London. I went along to London's O2 where I was given a tour of the exhibit by the boxer's wife, Lonnie.

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National Gallery / Tate divide

There is a fundamental flaw in an historic agreement between the National Gallery and the Tate. The two institutions settled on the idea of having a dividing line about twenty years ago, and came up with the idea that 1900 would be a suitable date at which to separate their collections and displays. It deal was precipitated by the then-imminent arrival of Tate Modern.

It was agreed by Messrs McGregor and Serota that the National Gallery would show international art up until 1900, while Tate Modern would present work produced from that date. Simple.

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