Editorial

The Turner Prize

When the great Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson was asked how a singer should prepare for the role of Isolde in Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde she is said to have replied, ‘Get a good pair of comfortable shoes’. Similar advice might be offered to visitors to this year’s Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain, London.1 The four shortlisted artists are showing video works and the gallery warns that to see them all will take four and a half hours, so ‘plan your visit accordingly’.

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Bruegel. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Anybody who has visited the paintings galleries at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, is familiar with the phenomenon: people clustered around the works of Pieter Bruegel, peering and talking and (to the guards’ annoyance) pointing excitedly to one detail or another. This is as it should be. In the artist’s lifetime (c.1525/30–69), his patrons in Antwerp hung his pictures on the walls of their dining rooms to provoke table talk; a generation later, Karel van Mander reported that it was quite impossible for even the most solemn person to look at the artist’s works without laughing.1

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