The great swindle
From pickled sharks to compositions in silence, fake ideas and fake emotions have elbowed out truth and beauty
How wonder works
One emotion inspired our greatest achievements in science, art and religion. We can manipulate it – but why do we have it?
Embracing the void
The ancients had pyramids to tame the sky’s mystery. We have Star Axis, a masterpiece forty years in the making
Is it OK to make art?
If you express your creativity while other people go hungry, you’re probably not making the world a better place
The pleasure we take in beauty must have been shaped by evolution — but what adaptive advantage did it give us?
Imagination is ancient
Our imaginative life today has access to the pre-linguistic, ancestral mind: rich in imagery, emotions and associations
What do clothes say?
Clothes can be forms of thought as articulate as a poem or equation. Why then does philosophy like to dress them down?
La bella vita
True beauty pleases the eye and the mind – but can it help us to become better people?
Magic bowls of antiquity
Ancient Babylonia’s magic bowls offer a glimpse into the society of the Talmud, and today’s shadowy antiquities market
Head to head
Michelangelo and Raphael; Leibniz and Newton; Constable and Turner. Does every creative genius need a bitter rival?
Has art ended again?
Ever since Hegel, artists and critics alike have been claiming that art is finished. But what could that actually mean?
Fra Angelico’s frescos inspired generations of devotion. Can religious art still work its magic on the godless?
It is and it isn’t
Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ is not just a radical kind of art. It’s a philosophical dialetheia: a contradiction that is true
Why people collect art
Collectors drive the art world, but what drives art collectors? It’s less about aesthetics than self-identification
More than words
Human communication is a glorious chaos. And images, from art to emojis, sometimes say it so much better than language can
When a tattoo marks a personal transformation, or the reclaiming of an abused body, the tattoo artist becomes a healer
The Grand Tour, 2.0
Can today’s travel deliver on the promise of the Grand Tour – or is the idea of edifying travel utterly bankrupt?
A fake of art
Museums display perfect reproductions of fragile works and visitors can’t tell the difference. Is nothing in art sacred?
Repairing things is about more than thrift. It is about creating something bold and original
Going to the chapel
Paul Simon’s album ‘Graceland’ is a joyous political statement. Does it strike the same chord in the sombre Rothko Chapel?
The arts electric
Digital art and culture mustn’t get caught up in the tools of its making or it will never transport us somewhere new
Humans have been breeding animals for beauty for centuries. But should we draw the line at genetically modified pets?