Will Gompertz reviews photographer Diane Arbus at London's Hayward Gallery ★★★★★

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Media captionThe Gompertz Guide to...Diane Arbus

They say you can judge people by the company they keep. Oligarchs hang out with art dealers, yacht brokers and muscle-bound bodyguards. Fading film stars winter in Miami among plastic surgeons and country club members. Undertakers chauffeur the dead. But who - outside the Houses of Parliament - would choose oddballs, misfits, and exhibitionists as their squad?

Step forward Diane (pronounced Dee-Anne BTW) Arbus. The American photographer loved an eccentric like a salesman loves a sucker. They were her people: outsiders of all shapes and sizes - short, giant, obese, skinny - who had the courage and character to expose their vulnerability in front of her searching lens.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Diane Arbus poses for a rare portrait with her beloved camera in New York, circa 1968

You don't just look at the subjects of Diane Arbus's photographs, you meet them. Her New York street photography was quite different from the images produced by the likes of Walker Evans and Robert Frank, who were also documenting mid-century urban America.

She wasn't a click-and-run flâneur surreptitiously snapping away from a camera buried within an overcoat, or one poking out from the passenger window of a passing car.

An Arbus image was the product of a collaboration between the seer and the seen: the photographer and the photographed.

Read full article Will Gompertz reviews photographer Diane Arbus at London's Hayward Gallery ★★★★★

Will Gompertz reviews Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford ★★★☆☆

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Ever since that old rascal Marcel Duchamp purchased a flat-backed Bedfordshire urinal in 1917 and proclaimed it a "readymade" sculpture, art has become a game of context.

It is no longer solely defined by materials used (a painted canvas, a carved stone) but also by where something is shown. And so, an unmade bed is a slovenly disgrace at home but a $1m installation in an art gallery.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Marcel Duchamp changed the way we look at art with his Fountain, a porcelain urinal in 1917

Read full article Will Gompertz reviews Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford ★★★☆☆

Will Gompertz reviews Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A ★★★★★

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Media captionThree ways Dior changed fashion forever

On Wednesday 12 February 1947 at around 09:45, a queue of insanely glamorous people stood outside 30 Avenue Montaigne, Paris, shivering in temperatures below -5C.

Among them was the artist Jean Cocteau, the socialite Lady Diana Cooper and the editors of American Vogue and Harper's Bazaar.

Read full article Will Gompertz reviews Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A ★★★★★

Will Gompertz reviews When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other ★★★★☆

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Media captionGruesome theatre... Will Gompertz on plays that will (probably) make you faint

Life is full of disappointments. The rain-soaked summer holiday. A terrible blind date. Passport photos. Politicians. We know, let-downs are inevitable.

Obviously, we do our best to avoid them.

Read full article Will Gompertz reviews When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other ★★★★☆

Will Gompertz reviews John Lanchester's dystopian novel The Wall ★★★☆☆

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Media captionThe Gompertz guide to... dystopian novels

Betting is a mug's game. We know that. Doesn't stop it being fun, though. We humans have an imagination - speculating on what might happen is second nature to us.

Of course, you wouldn't want to take a punt on something really important when the odds were clearly stacked against you, but a spot of light conjecture about what the future holds is often the basis for a lively conversation.

Read full article Will Gompertz reviews John Lanchester's dystopian novel The Wall ★★★☆☆

Will Gompertz reviews Stan & Ollie ★★★★☆

Artwork for Will Gompertz review

I've interviewed Steve Coogan a couple of times. Once as himself, and on another occasion with him in character as Alan Partridge.

Coogan called me a couple of days before the Partridge interview to talk through logistics.

Read full article Will Gompertz reviews Stan & Ollie ★★★★☆

Will Gompertz reviews Brexit: The Uncivil War starring Benedict Cumberbatch ★★★★☆

Brexit: The Uncivil War

This week we are pulling up at the crossroads where art meets politics. It's not the latest Ai Weiwei installation, or a pro-Trump tweet from Kanye, but a TV movie called Brexit: The Uncivil War, a two-hour dramatised account of how Vote Leave won the EU Referendum on 23 June 2016.

It's written by James Graham, the talented young playwright with a string of West End hits, among which is This House, his satirical take on the Labour government of 1974-79.

Read full article Will Gompertz reviews Brexit: The Uncivil War starring Benedict Cumberbatch ★★★★☆

Review: Artemisia Gentileschi - forgotten portrait of artist who endured rape trial ★★★★★

Artemisia Gentileschi self-portrait

Great literature can be a good way of gaining an insight into art.

For instance, Rodin's monumental sculpture The Gates of Hell (1880-90) is a complex work that becomes more comprehensible when you realise the artist's source material was Dante's Divine Comedy.

Read full article Review: Artemisia Gentileschi - forgotten portrait of artist who endured rape trial ★★★★★

Will Gompertz on Mary Poppins Returns starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda ★★☆☆☆

Mary Poppins Returns

Back in the 1990s a film studio undertook some very expensive research in an attempt to discover if there was a formula, based on empirical data, for making commercially successful movies.

To the executives' delight, the research company reported back that it had indeed identified the way to make money. A meeting was hastily arranged.

Read full article Will Gompertz on Mary Poppins Returns starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda ★★☆☆☆

Will Gompertz reviews Mantegna's two panels reunited at London's National Gallery ★★★☆☆

Mantegna panels reunited Image copyright BBC News

Each year I have to face an awful moment of truth.

It happens on the first morning of every summer holiday when I'm somewhere hot and sunny with friends and family. Drinks are flowing, music is playing.

Read full article Will Gompertz reviews Mantegna's two panels reunited at London's National Gallery ★★★☆☆