The American Dream


Currently being analysed, dissected and put on display at the British Museum in their fantastic exhibition of post-war art, from pop art to minimalism to photo-realism, and from the AIDS epidemic to artists dealing with feminist and racial issues.


There were a few nods to Liechtenstein, Warhol and Wayne Thiebaud, but a lot of this art will be new to UK viewers, and that’s great too.

All photos my own.


Trowelblazers, an exhibition of women scientists, currently on show at the Geographical Society¬†is such a great idea, and the idea that women can do anything is exactly what my school taught us. That it’s even an issue now, still baffles/angers me. I’m calling now for similar lights to be shone on women in finance, law, economics, anthropology, medicine, academia and politics.


If this has inspired you, then:

1. listen to this interview between the conductors Marin Alsop and Silvia Caduff (“women cannot conduct, but you must conduct”, Karajan declared when Caduff picked up the baton for the first time before him),


2. read this set of obituaries (the title comes from a matron who was heard saying “chin up girls, I’m proud of you all” to her nurses as they marched into the sea as Japanese prisoners of war, knowing they would be shot), and


3. pick up a copy of this survey of women diplomats


Arabia unbound

The British Museum has always had a strong art collection.

The Turner bequest, with his sketching notebooks, was here before they moved to the Tate and Laurence Binyon, whose famous poem For the Fallen (“they shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old…”) is recited every November, was a curator in the prints and watercolour department, where he was responsible for introducing his artist contemporaries to Chinese and Japanese prints.

All this provides good materials for furnishing small temporary, free exhibitions, like the one last spring of modern Arabic art and book illustrations:

BM art

When I saw this poster image, it reminded me of Robert Motherwell’s “Black for Mozart”, which I passed in a Mayfair gallery this summer. It’s much bigger and more textured than it looks here.


and it also brought home to me how the calligraphic tradition of Islamic art allows the creators to focus on structure and composition, as much as decoration.


“…those who are the world’s working artists are not trying to help the world go around, but forward. Which is something altogether from the ordinary…Its labor requires a different outlook – a different set of priorities…It is a third self, occasional in some of us, tyrant in others. This self is out of love with the ordinary; it is out of love with time. It has a hunger for eternity.

From poet Mary Oliver’s book of essays,¬†Upstream. Photo via Penguin Random House’s page.