Damien Hirst: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable review – a titanic return

Art is magical. It is a fairytale. It can make you rich. It can make you poor. It can turn everything you thought you knew inside out and upside down. It has made Damien Hirst rich, colossally so, and now it has done something else. It has redeemed him. For years he has appeared a […]

Jonathan Jones’s top 10 art exhibitions of 2016

From great masterpieces by Caravaggio and Picasso to Georgiana Houghton’s hypnotic rediscovered paintings, this was a year full of stunning blockbusters. From Picasso, to Marcel Duchamp, to Hieronymus Bosch, Caravaggio, AbEx, Girogione, Anselm Kiefer to William Kentridge, read on…!

Time the Turner prize grew up: why it needs to embrace the over-50s

The Turner prize is looking old – and paradoxically, this is down to its obsession with youth. The prize that did so much to make the Young British Artist movement famous in the 1990s has a rule that to be eligible you have to be under the age of 50. That rule is looking increasingly […]

Thumbs up to David Shrigley’s fabulously feel-bad fourth plinth

David Shrigley is a mordant and rueful artist. I have a postcard by him that says DEATH in letters that get smaller from left to right, pithily expressing our doom as a diminishing scribble. His take on existence veers between the grimly comic and the cynically absurdist. It is therefore hard to take him entirely […]

Robert Rauschenberg: the leader of American art’s great ménage à trois

The dazzling, haunting ‘combines’ at the heart of Tate Modern’s forthcoming retrospective were part of a private game between Rauschenberg and his peers and sometime lovers, Cy Twombly and Jasper Johns. Robert Rauschenberg’s 1954 work Untitled is an upright wooden box supported by a white, colonial-era table leg over an open stage-like enclosure in which […]

Hoarders or collectors? Our frightened society has forgotten the difference

New York art show The Keeper celebrates our poetic obsession with objects, but how many of us simply surround ourselves with familiar, reassuring rubbish? The exhibition and these reactions suggest a new chapter in the history of collecting. The psychology of the collector seems more traumatised, anxious and defensive. The type of collecting the New […]

Audio-fail: why is so much sound art so bad?

Susan Philipsz and John Cage have shown that the genre has claims to greatness, but two works in Edinburgh betray the emptiness of much sound art. Let’s get this straight, sound art buffs: of course art can be made with sound. It can be made with anything. The first masterpiece of sound art is Marcel […]

Vantablack – Can an artist ever really own a colour?

Anish Kapoor has the exclusive rights to paint using Vantablack, the blackest black that has ever existed – but other artists are keen to use it. Colour is precious. Colour can drive you mad – especially if you are an artist. The colours that artists use can be as expensive as gold – which installationist […]

Tate Modern has finally won me over – with art

Great art museums need great art. That should go without saying, but the new Tate Modern is so architecturally exhilarating that I started to wonder: perhaps you really can have a museum where it doesn’t matter much what’s in it because the experience of walking around is so enjoyable and cool. I love the Switch […]

Cy Twombly makes me want to plan the art heist of the century

You can’t fault art dealer Larry Gagosian’s taste. Not only has he commissioned a spacious and elegant new art gallery in London’s Mayfair, but it opens with a Cy Twombly exhibition. By the time Twombly died in 2011, he had become a figure of unique mystery and authority in modern art – an American who […]

Anish Kapoor must reconsider – Dirty Corner should be cleaned

Public art often gets scarred by battles over its meaning or right to exist, but the vandals who daubed antisemitic graffiti on his sculpture are idiots who picked the wrong target. Anish Kapoor, it turns out, is not only a brilliant artist but a brave one. Faced with an antisemitic attack on his open-air sculpture […]

Kapoor’s vagina isn’t shocking. French art has always been a hotbed of amour

French conservatives are outraged over Anish Kapoor’s work in Versailles. But he’s not the first artist to bring sex into the country’s establishment. Anish Kapoor is putting the vagina in Versailles. Why on earth are the French so shocked? What has happened to the nation that gave us Courbet’s explicit painting The Origin of the […]

Stroke of genius: Peter Doig’s eerie art whisks the mind to enchanted places

Amid the impostures that sometimes pass for 21st-century art, Doig’s record-breaking compositions are jewels of imagination and haunting vision. It must be the most expensive canoe in history. This week in Manhattan a painting by Edinburgh-born Peter Doig of a small white boat lost in a tangle of weeds and tree stumps in some remote […]

Jonathan Jones’s top 10 art shows of 2014

From Anselm Kiefer’s rotting sunflowers to a rollicking super-show all over Scotland, via Rembrandt, Matisse, Andy Warhol and Egon Schiele … it was an eye-opening year. From the rusty submarines hanging in a vitrine in the courtyard to bookworks in which photographs and black paint created eerie provocative assemblages, Anselm Kiefer’s retrospective rocked me. In […]

Poverty lines: where are the poor in art today?

Caravaggio, Bruegel and Van Gogh all made studies of the poor in spite of rich patronage. Why aren’t more artists doing that now? Art has a long history of entertaining the rich. From ancient artisans who made gold drinking cups for kings, to the artists of today who sell installations to plutocrats, art has been a […]

The Turner prize show: voices, videos and erotic tickling sticks

Has the Turner prize lost its power to shock? No – thanks to James Richards’s sphincter shots. But it’s Tris Vonna-Michell’s spellbinding spoken-word travelogues that deserve to win. What a heartening way to celebrate 30 years of the Turner prize. People are always saying the Turner, which shocked the nation with Tracey Emin’s unmade bed […]

Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy review – ‘an exciting rollercoaster ride of beauty, horror and history’

Born in Germany as the Nazis fell, Anselm Kiefer’s back catalogue is an astonishing look at the awful burden of history. Anselm Kiefer was born in Germany in 1945. A new life can rarely have started in a less promising place and time. To enter the world as the Third Reich fell was to be […]

Why Germany would win the World Cup of modern art too

Beuys, Richter, Kiefer, Polke, Ernst … such a formidable lineup shows up British contemporary artists for the commercial, over-hyped and celebrity focused lightweights that they are. Germany has proved its global footballing eminence by winning the 2014 World Cup, yet soccer is just one of many things Germans excel at. There’s also art. What is the […]

Hallelujah! Why Bill Viola’s Martyrs altarpiece at St Paul’s is to die for

Forget the bloody martyrdoms and hot pincers … Viola’s glorious new video installation is a hi-tech Caravaggio that redefines religious art. Bill Viola has created a powerful modern altarpiece for St Paul’s Cathedral that perfectly suits the restrained spirituality of this most English of churches. Coming into Christopher Wren’s great building on a weekday morning when crowded buses […]

Contemporary art isn’t original – even copying has been done before

The row around Marina Abramović is redundant, as the story of art is one of homages and remakes. But that’s not to say there isn’t a problem. “Good artists copy, great artists steal,” said Pablo Picasso. Or at least he gets the credit for saying it. Perhaps he pinched the words from Oscar Wilde. For there […]