RSS feed
Will Gompertz, Arts editor

Will Gompertz Arts editor

A view from the wings - from the Strokes and the soaps to Bauhaus and Bach

Turner at Tate

9 September 2014
JMW Turner, Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus exhibited 1839
JMW Turner's Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus, exhibited in 1839

Rivals in life, two of Britain's greatest painters Turner and Constable, are the subjects of major exhibitions in London.

The general consensus was that Turner had lost his marbles. Old age had addled his brain, leaving him incapacitated as a painter: a past master who was now only capable of splashing paint on a canvas in the most indiscriminate fashion.

That was the view in 1840, but not today. In 2014, the late works of Joseph Mallord William Turner are considered to be among his very best. The expressive brushwork, colour harmonies, dazzling light affects, and almost complete lack of pictorial detail is now seen as not only a pre-cursor to French Impressionism, but also to American Abstract Expressionism.

Turner is presented not as an old master, but a modern one: a radical innovator, who cared little for rules, and not a jot for the establishment. To re-enforce the point the notoriously avant-garde annual Turner Prize is named after the cockney colourist.

The truth is more subtle. Turner was a Romantic painter, who cared as much for words as he did for images. Many of his works are accompanied by texts or poems, either written by himself or those he admired. He was in many ways conservative, and nostalgic.

JMW Turner, War: The Exile and the Rock Limpet exhibited 1842
Turner's War: The Exile and the Rock Limpet, exhibited in 1842

Read full article

Carmen Dell'Orefice: model, muse and memorable handshake

4 September 2014
Carmen Dell'Orefice next to portrait of her taken by Horst P Horst in 1947

As first impressions go, it was an odd one. I've experienced numerous handshakes over the years, from the 'damp rag' to the 'bone crusher', but I've never had the 'forearm grip' before. It was disconcerting.

Read full article

Roald Dahl: Charlie and the missing chapters

3 September 2014

In the 50 years since Roald Dahl wrote the children's classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the book's characters have become household names but it turns out they were only part of the original story.

The discovery of new unpublished chapters reveals Dahl had intended to include more children lucky enough to win the golden ticket and meet Willy Wonka.

Read full article

Kate Bush still wows fans after 35 year live break

27 August 2014

Fans have greeted singer Kate Bush with huge cheers at London's Hammersmith Apollo as she began her first concert in 35 years, kicking off a run of 22 shows which sold out in minutes.

The west London venue was the scene of her last live appearance in 1979.

Read full article

Funny Women

21 August 2014
Sara Pascoe

The photocall of the shortlisted comedians for this year's Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards - Best Show and Best Newcomer - could be seen as evidence of the sort of political correctness at which most of the selected acts spend their professional lives poking fun.

There, for us all to see, is a wholesome picture of equality between the sexes with an exact 50/50 split between male and female performers. It is an equality that's reflected in the make up of the judging panel, which is also neatly split 50/50 (although the Chair is a man and has the casting vote in the shortlist stage).

Read full article

Simon Callow's critical re-appraisal

21 August 2014
Simon Callow

When Simon Callow first presented his one-man show Juvenalia nearly forty years ago at the Bush Theatre in London, the then 27-year old actor found he had a surprise hit on his hands. Critics and audiences loved it, he said yesterday at an event in the BBC's Potterrow tent in Edinburgh.

He has since become a specialist at the theatrical essay-cum-performance lecture, presenting around thirty different productions over the course of his career. Shakespeare, Dickens and Mozart have all been brought enthusiastically back to life by Callow's dramatic storytelling.

Read full article

Mackenzie Crook unearths metal detector sitcom

11 August 2014
Mackenzie Crook in The Detectorists
As well as writing and directing, Mackenzie Crook plays amateur treasure-hunter Andy

Mackenzie Crook is best known for his roles in The Office, Pirates of the Caribbean and Game of Thrones. He has now written and directed a BBC Four sitcom about metal detector enthusiasts, which was screened in Edinburgh on Monday.

When Mackenzie Crook was filming Almost Human in Vancouver last year, he found he had too much time on his hands.

Read full article

Can Malevich's Black Square be considered art?

The divisive painting Black Square is to go on show at the Tate Modern as part of an exhibition on Russian modernist painter Kazimir Malevich.

The work, a square of black oil paint on a white canvas, was first exhibited in 1915.

Read full article

Damien Hirst wallpaper art causes sale dispute

When Jess Simpson bought a house in London nearly ten years ago she was told that a painting on the wallpaper was by Damian Hirst.

She decided to frame it and now she wants to sell it. She has been talking to me about why Hirst's representatives are now demanding the piece is not sold.

Read full article

The life and Work of Nadine Gordimer

South African Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer has died in Johannesburg aged 90.

The writer, who was one of the literary world's most powerful voices against apartheid - died at her home after a short illness, her family said.

Read full article

Latest Tweets

More Correspondents

  • Phil Coomes, Picture editor Phil Coomes Picture editor

    Exploring photojournalism and pictures in the news


  • Mark Easton, Home editor Mark Easton Home editor

    The way we live in the UK and the many ways it is changing


About Will

Will has been BBC arts editor since 2009.

Before that, he was a director at the Tate Gallery for seven years, where he was responsible for the award-winning Tate Online, the UK's most popular art website, and Tate Etc, the UK's highest circulation art magazine.

He was voted one of the world's top 50 creative thinkers by the New York-based Creativity Magazine.

In 2009 Will wrote and performed Double Art History, a sell-out one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.