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"a conspiracy of Christian goodness" in WW2 France

France had a mixed history when it came to its own Jewish community. Consider the splitting of France into the anti-Semitic German-occupied north and the anti-Semitic Vichy government in the unoccupied South (1940-42). Despite the heroic...Show More Summary

Paul McCartney’s Seventies Struggle to Escape the Beatles

During the 1960s, four of the most famous people on Earth were collectively known as The Beatles. Most people struggle to deal with the post-fame life, but how do you live as an ex-Beatle? In Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s, Tom Doyle asks that very question of the life of the “cute Beatle,” Paul McCartney. Show More Summary

J.M.Barrie's house-museum in Scotland

James Barrie (1860–1937) was the child of a Calvinist family of weavers from Kirriemuir in Angus, close to the Scottish city of Dundee. There were 10 children born to David Barrie and his wife Margaret, so I can­not see how the 10 people (two children died) could live in the two rooms of the white cottage that is now the JM Barrie Museum. Show More Summary

A Proud Nude

Isabelle and Orleans (1938) by the great Australian artist Norman Lindsay (1879-1969). The French Princess Isabella of Valois (1387-1410) was the daughter of King Charles VI. Her childhood marriage at the age of eight to Richard II of England sought peace between the two counties. Show More Summary

an Australian socialist utopia in Paraguay - 1893-1900

I have noted before that the concept of ideal communities, be they religious, socialist, feminist, temperance, environmental or even industrial, is very appealing. The Fruitlands project, for example, occurred at a time (the 1840s) when Utopian communities were popping up with some frequency in New England. Show More Summary

Was There a Seventies "Sexplosion" in the Arts?

“Today, full frontal nudity is more common on cable TV than cigarette smoking is in office buildings,” writes Robert Hofler in Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol to A Clockwork Orange—How a Generation of Pop Rebels Broke All the Taboos, his fascinating study of how we got to this point. Show More Summary

Can a Classic Museum Really Be Made Modern?

Every new cultural institution hopes for “The Bilbao Effect”—the economic boom the faltering, former industrial city of Bilbao, Spain, enjoyed after the 1997 rise of architect Frank Gehry’s game-changing design for the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. Show More Summary

Ongoing story of the Alfred Dreyfus Affair: 1894-2014

I have written and lectured many times about the Dreyfus Affair that hit France from 1894 to 1906. But it has largely been from the perspective of the artists, writers and cultural salons, or the politicians and military men who took a stance on Captain Alfred Dreyfus (1859–1935), for or against. Show More Summary

Epic Battle

The battle of Salamis by the German romantic painter Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Theodor Kaulbach (1822-1839). Even the gods are taking arms in this legendary battle between Orient and Okzident.

Esther before the King

Esther before the King by the ItalianBaroque painter Andrea Celesti (1637-1712).

Spies, Writers and Artists in Hampstead

I have just read the fascinating book The Lawn Road Flats by historian David Burke (Boydell, 2014). The firm Isokon (Isometric Unit Construc­tion Control Co) was established to make modern flats, houses and furniture. Their Lawn Road Flats in Bel­size Park in Hampstead was a remark­able building that I knew and loved. Show More Summary

Art Nouveau Knights

Another powerful and elegant illustrations by the Austrian Art Nouveau painter Carl Otto Czeschka (1878-1960) done for an edition of "Die Nibelungen" (1909).

collecting British and French culture in the USA - Huntington Library

In 1870 railway magnate Collis Huntington (1821-1900) met Arabella Yarrington, 30 years his junior; in 1884 they marr­ied when he was 63 and he adop­t­ed her son Archer. Soon the couple built their gorgeous New York mansion, and devoted the rest of their married years to coll­ect­ing art, furniture and fine books. Show More Summary

The sometimes-great Australian film industry

With film technology emerging in France in the late 1800s, Australia excitedly jumped onto the new medium, and saw a period of rapid dev­el­op­ment in the industry. Inauguration of the Commonwealth 1901 was possibly the first feature-length documentary made in Australia and the first Australian film to use multi-camera coverage. Show More Summary

Old Comrades

Another Waterloo battle scene by the French battle painter Joseph Louis Hippolyte Bellange (1800-1866). An old greandier tries to comfort a dying comrade.

Must We Take Jeff Koons Seriously Now?

Comedian Stephen Colbert called Jeff Koons “The world's most expensive birthday clown” when the artist famous for his giant balloon animals appeared on his show in 2012. A year later, one of Koons’ balloon dogs sold for $58.4 million,...Show More Summary

How Cézanne Saw a World in an Apple

Just as poet William Blake asks us “To see a world in a grain of sand” in his poem “Auguries of Innocence,” painter Paul Cézanne asks us to see the world in an apple in the many still lifes that span his long career. In The World IsShow More Summary

The Monuments Men were more Frick-based than Hollywood-based.

After Henry Frick's death in 1919, his daughter Helen channeled her energy into turning the Frick Library into a premier centre for scholarly research. Frick’s private collection was one of the most coveted in the world, but it was the...Show More Summary

Coleridge's small cottage, great poems, sad marriage and opium

I saw the two comedians, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, in their 2010 film, The Trip. The road trip to Lancashire, Yorkshire and the Lake District was to review restaurants for a major British daily. But they also followed the poets' trails, and recited poetry to each other over sumptuous dinners. Show More Summary

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