Arthur Jafa’s video for Kanye West’s Wash Us In The Blood: Will Gompertz's review ★★★★☆

Wash Us in the Blood by Kanye West Image copyright Arthur Jafa

"If I was a betting man", my father used to say when on holiday and eyeing up an incoming storm before taking us kids on a long hill walk, "I'd wager we'll be just fine". We never were. We always got soaked. It was the Lake District. If it looks like storming, it storms. The weather doesn't bluff in Cumbria.

Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) knew that.

The emigre artist moved to Ambleside via Norway in 1945 having fled Germany after Hitler included his Dadaist collages in the Nazis's Degenerate Art (Entartete Kunst) exhibitions. Schwitters called his assemblages made from magazine cuttings and assorted debris, "Merz", an invented word to describe his carefully arranged collection of bit-n-bobs.

Soon after he set up shop in the Lake District, he began the protracted process of transforming a humble stone barn into a Merzbau: a dwelling-cum-sculpture-cum-installation fabricated from twigs, string, wire, plaster and pretty much anything that came to hand.

Image copyright Tate
Image caption Relief in Relief (1942 -5 ) by Kurt Schwitters who said he "could see no reason why bits of driftwood, buttons and old junk from rubbish heaps should not serve well as materials for paintings"
Image copyright KURT UND ERNST SCHWITTERS STIFTUNG, HANNOVER
Image caption Kurt Schwitters outside the Merz Barn with fellow artist, Hilde Goldschmidt in the village of Langdale in the Lake District, 1946/47

But the Cumbrian climate undermined his efforts; rainwater poured through the construction. Schwitters was thwarted by the weather, and by his failing health.

Read full article Arthur Jafa’s video for Kanye West’s Wash Us In The Blood: Will Gompertz's review ★★★★☆

Eurovision Song Contest: Will Gompertz reviews the new Netflix film ★★☆☆☆

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga Image copyright Netflix/BBC

You don't have to know loads about art to recognise a great piece when you see one. It hits you like a truck; like love-at-first sight. It doesn't occur often, but when it does, oh boy.

It happened to me a few years ago on one rainy afternoon when I'd ducked into a gallery to avoid a downpour. The place was showing a nine-channel video, which sounds as dreary as these things usually are, but, I reasoned, was probably marginally less awful than getting soaked. Anyway, the shower looked as though it was passing, I reckoned I could leg it after a couple of minutes. I set my expectations a notch or two below those of a tailor at a nudist camp, and entered the room in which the 52-minute multi-screen epic was being shown.

Read full article Eurovision Song Contest: Will Gompertz reviews the new Netflix film ★★☆☆☆

Bob Dylan: Will Gompertz reviews his first album of new songs in eight years ★★★★★

Bob Dylan

There is a new genre in pop music emerging. It's not coming from the housing estates of Tottenham, or the studios of LA. It hasn't stumbled out of the clubs of Ibiza, or drifted into mainstream from the back streets of Rio. It isn't radical or exciting or rebellious or loud. It is something else altogether: a form that has only just become possible, which is not down to technological progress, but the more mundane inevitability of the ageing process.

The baby-faced pop pioneers of yore; the beautiful young things who lit up a dreary post-war world, are coming to the end of their long and winding roads. It is an untrodden path. There are no precedents. It is up to those original trailblazers to define the aesthetics of an elderly star's final act.

Read full article Bob Dylan: Will Gompertz reviews his first album of new songs in eight years ★★★★★

The King of Staten Island: Will Gompertz reviews Judd Apatow's film ★★★★☆

The King of Staten Island Image copyright 2020 Universal Studios/BBC

On the face of it The King of Staten Island tells a tale so familiar it's a cliché. A young man is struggling to come to terms with adult life. He smokes a lot of weed, hangs out with a crew of equally lost souls, and starts making some ill-advised life decisions. He's not an inherently bad lad: he loves his mum, he's nice to kids (mostly), and routinely disarms with his self-deprecating charms.

You know this story, you know this person.

Read full article The King of Staten Island: Will Gompertz reviews Judd Apatow's film ★★★★☆

Friendship: Will Gompertz reviews the work by US artist Agnes Martin ★★★★★

Agnes Martin Image copyright Agnes Martin/DACS 2020/MoMA/BBC

I was looking at an online image of an abstract painting called Friendship by the late American artist Agnes Martin (1912 - 2004) when my son lent over my shoulder to take a look.

"What's it made out of? he asked

Read full article Friendship: Will Gompertz reviews the work by US artist Agnes Martin ★★★★★

The Machine Stops: Will Gompertz reviews EM Forster's work ★★★★★

The Machine Stops by EM Forster

My wife was listening to a radio programme the other day and heard a man talking about artificial intelligence. He mentioned a science fiction novella by EM Forster called The Machine Stops, published in 1909. He said it was remarkably prescient. The missus hadn't heard of it, and nor had I. Frankly, we didn't have Forster down as a sci-fi guy, more Merchant Ivory films starring Helena Bonham Carter and elegant Edwardian dresses.

We ordered a copy.

Read full article The Machine Stops: Will Gompertz reviews EM Forster's work ★★★★★

The Joe Rogan Experience: Will Gompertz reviews episode #1470 with Elon Musk ★★★☆☆

The Joe Rogan Experience
Image caption Joe Rogan (L) interviews Tesla boss Elon Musk (R)

They used to say everybody had a book in them. Then it changed to everybody had a blog in them. Now, everybody has a podcast in them. And that's just where the book-blog-pod should stay in 99.9% of cases.

But there are handful of people who have taken to podcasting like Luke Skywalker to a lightsaber and become masters of cyberspace broadcasting.

Read full article The Joe Rogan Experience: Will Gompertz reviews episode #1470 with Elon Musk ★★★☆☆

The Night Watch: Will Gompertz reviews the Rijksmuseum's high tech photo ★★★★★

The Night Watch by Rembrandt

At 9am on Tuesday the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam posted an image of Rembrandt's The Night Watch (1642) on its website. Nothing particularly unusual about that, you might think. After all, the museum frequently uploads pictures of its masterpieces from Dutch Golden Age. But there was something about this particular photo that made it stand out just like the little girl in a gold dress in Rembrandt's famous group portrait of local civic guardsmen.

The web image presents the painting unframed on a dark grey background. It looks sharp and well-lit but not exceptional in terms of photography.

Read full article The Night Watch: Will Gompertz reviews the Rijksmuseum's high tech photo ★★★★★

Jiab Prachakul: Will Gompertz reviews BP Portrait Award 2020 winner ★★★☆☆

Jiab Prachakul won the BP Portrait Award 2020 for Night Talk Image copyright Jiab Prachakul
Image caption Jiab Prachakul won the BP Portrait Award 2020 for Night Talk, which judges described as an "an evocative portrait of a fleeting moment in time"
Presentational white space

The working life of the professional portrait painter was put in jeopardy by what must have been the thoroughly unwelcome advent of photography. What was your mid-19th Century artist to do? The camera was faster, cheaper and better at capturing a likeness. One day their studio was packed with Lady This and Lord That posing in their finest clothes, the next they were painting tumbleweed.

And then, just in the nick of time, some brilliant young artist - probably not so fresh from the brothels of Paris - realised that photography didn't herald the death of painting at all, in fact, it had set it free.

Read full article Jiab Prachakul: Will Gompertz reviews BP Portrait Award 2020 winner ★★★☆☆

The Eddy: Will Gompertz reviews Netflix drama directed by Oscar-winning Damien Chazelle ★★★☆☆

The Eddy

The Eddy is an indie jazz club on the rundown outskirts of Paris, co-owned by Elliot (André Holland) and Farid (Tahar Rahim). They are good friends. Elliot used to be a famous American jazz pianist. Farid didn't, which is why he's in charge of the business side, while his cooler-than-thou colleague looks after the music.

They have a house band. It is on the cusp of a record deal with a prestigious label. But they're not quite at it. Particularly singer Maja (Joanna Kulig), who is struggling to get over an affair with Elliot, who in turn is struggling to get over his own personal issues, which are the cause for him stepping out of the limelight.

Image copyright Netflix
Image caption André Holland, who stars as Elliot Udo and is seen here with Maja (played by Joanna Kulig), said he was interested in the history of black artists leaving America and coming to Paris to make music

Read full article The Eddy: Will Gompertz reviews Netflix drama directed by Oscar-winning Damien Chazelle ★★★☆☆