Please click on the images below for more information on my recent appearances in print, in person, on-line and on the air. 

BBC Culture

"Staring into the abyss"

Just as American voters were deciding between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on November 8th, a huge sinkhole opened up in a Japanese city. I wonder what the Italian Renaissance painter Botticelli would have made of that ...

11 November 2016

BBC Culture

"The image that tramples others into dust"

How does a recent photo from Iraq change the way we look at landscape paintings from the 18th century?

4 November 2016

BBC Culture

"Why we see these legs as shiny"

What does an Instagram meme that wrecked the internet’s eyes have in common with Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (c1665)? Let’s take a look ...

28 October 2016

BBC Culture

"The devil is in the detail"

Seven Surprising Ambiguities in Art History

21 October 2016

BBC Culture

"The missing moonbow in art history"

21 October 2016

BBC Culture

"The art of man and machine"

14 October 2016



Justin Burns interviews me at the Ilkley Playhouse

8 October 2016

BBC Culture

"Can art mean anything we want it to?"

7 October 2016

BBC Culture

"Art in the Age of the Bottom"

29 September 2016

BBC Culture

"The ethics of perspective"

Ever wonder what Robert Frost, J M W Turner, and the International Space Station have in common? Well, I’m glad you stopped by ...

23 September 2016

BBC Culture

"Staring is Power"

"The ability to command another’s gaze, to transfix their mind and muscles by using nothing more than the resolve of one's unblinking eyes, requires discipline and courage of purpose. To stare is to assert one’s existence in the world – to rivet oneself to the now…"

16 September 2016

BBC Culture

"Secular Relics"

Religions have long venerated the remnants of religious figures. But the relics of the rest of us — from Einstein’s eyes to Napoleon’s penis — have attracted a unique following all their own ...

15 September 2016

BBC Culture

"The ladder and the cross"

A photo taken amid funeral preparations in Italy for victims of the devastating earthquake that killed nearly 300 people, shows a Christ twisting between two worlds — at once levitating and tethered — and offers a poignant symbol of the anguished limbo in which survivors find themselves. I explore how this remarkable image echoes an unusual etching from the 16th century ...

9 September 2016


Edited by Kelly Grovier

Sean Scully is among the greatest painters of our age. He is also among the most outspoken. This volume brings together over 200 texts and 120 illustrations, including a selection of unique handwritten facsimile pages in which word and image are uniquely intertwined. In addition to editing the volume, I’ve written an introduction for the book that locates Scully’s fierce lyricism in the tradition of artist-writers.

6 September 2016

BBC Culture

"The underdog, ourselves"

"Artists and writers have long been inspired by the story of Jacob’s spiritual skirmish (everyone from Rembrandt to Delacroix has painted it) because it speaks candidly to the type of struggles we actually find ourselves facing in life: not with mythic demons, but with forces inside ourselves ..."

2 September 2016

BBC Culture

"How the pyramid changed art"

“Once spotted, the pyramid is discernible everywhere in the history of image making and becomes a stock expectation that artists soon learn to subvert …"

26 August 2016

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

I am interviewed by RTE’s Seán Rocks on the opening of

David Hockney: “I draw, I do”

at the MAC, Belfast, Northern Ireland

22 August 2016

BBC Culture

"Why some images stop us in our tracks"

"Though life is not a painting and oughtn’t be confused with one, the greatest works of art intensify our response to life’s tragedies rather than distract us from them …"

19 August 2016

BBC Culture

"The heart goes on"

What connects a 19th-century painting of the funeral pyre that consumed the drowned body of the Romantic poet Shelley and a wedding in Pittsburgh in August 2016?

12 August 2016

BBC Culture

"The Great Clinton Cover-up"

In art, as in politics, it’s always the cover-up that gets you into trouble ... 

5 August 2016

BBC Culture

"Renewable Energy"

When we say a work of art is "uplifting”, what do we really mean?

29 July 2016

BBC Culture

"Sixteenth-century FaceTime"

What can this self-portrait by Parmigianino (“the little one from Parma”) tell us about 21st-century politics?

22 July 2016

BBC Culture

"The Secret Pantomime of Power"

This week, Britain’s new Prime Minister knelt before the Queen,  replaying a ritual that dates back centuries. Does it still have meaning? ...

15 July 2016

BBC Culture

"The Ark of the Kentuckians"

What does a $100 million dollar reconstruction of Noah’s Ark ("300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits") have to do with a Quaker painter from the nineteenth century? I’m glad you asked ...

8 July 2016

BBC Culture

"Biting Banksy’s Lip"

When images of an intimate moment between two London police officers went viral, did they suck the air out of one of the most famous works of contemporary street art? Yes, yes they did ...

1 July 2016

The Times Literary Supplement

"Summer Books"

"It’s Bernard O’Donoghue’s ability to fluidify boundaries and unite readers in a shared humanity (‘the architecture of the spirit’, as he calls it) that I’m looking forward to rediscovering this summer, with the arrival of a fresh collection of poetry: The Seasons of Cullen Church” ...

24 June 2016

BBC Culture

"Sitting down to make a stand"

After 20 Democrats carried out a "sit in” in Congress to demand action on gun legislation, I consider the very posture of human courage ...

24 June 2016

BBC Culture

"The subway heroes of New York"

When a viral video this week captured the courage of three men rescuing an unconcious stranger from the tracks of a Manhattan subway, it revived a visual tradition of celebrating the Good Samaritan ...

17 June 2016

BBC Culture

"The history of the Rainbow Flag"

In the aftermath of a horrific hate crime in America, I investigate the birth of a cultural symbol and how tragedy propelled it into iconicity ...

15 June 2016

BBC Culture

"The macabre riddle of the skull mask’"

From sacrificial rituals in 15th-century Aztec culture to schoolchildren marking World No Tobacco Day in 21st-century China, the ghoulish paradox of the skull-mask-that-masks-the-skull perennially rears its mysterious head ...

3 June 2016

BBC Culture

"The haunting image of 'The Sea Cemetery’"

How does a recent tribute to the 4000 Syrian refugees who have perished at sea poignantly rewrite a Romantic masterpiece?

27 May 2016

The Times Literary Supplement

"Early modern"

I look at Loyd Grossman’s terrific study of a "game-changing" painting: Benjamin West and the Struggle To Be Modern  ... 

27 May 2016

BBC Culture

"Eight of the most mind-wrinkling optical illusions in art history"

18 May 2016

BBC Culture

“What does the Trump/Putin mural really mean?”

An image of the two men in a tight clinch went viral this week. I look at how an iconic sculpture from a century ago sheds light on their relationship ...

18 May 2016

The Times Literary Supplement

"Life and Death in De Quincey"

I review a terrific new biography by Frances Wilson of the English essayist Thomas De Quincey and, in the process, discover further proof of my claim that Coleridge's Ancient Mariner was inspired by the mysterious traveller and philosopher “Walking” Stewart ... 

13 May 2016

BBC Culture

“The sleepwalker of New York”

What connects a hyper-realist statue of a sleepwalker in New York with one of the most hypnotic portraits of the nineteenth century? I consider the links ... 

13 May 2016

BBC Culture

“The woman who defied 300 neo-Nazis”

The iconic image of a courageous woman taking to the streets and pointing the way to enlightenment in the face of ultraconservatism was rehearsed in real life in Sweden this week. I explore the parallels ...

6 May 2016

BBC Culture

“How optical illusions can save lives”

Holbein hid an anamorphic skull at the bottom of this painting. I investigate how it and a new design for crosswalks in India are motivated by similar urges   …

29 April 2016

BBC Culture

“Why the image of a mystery veteran keeps going viral”

Some images go viral. Others are chronic. I explore what Van Gogh’s Sorrowful Old Man can tell us about the difference between the two  …

22 April 2016

BBC Culture

“The Caravaggio in the attic”

Several experts have declared this painting an authentic Caravaggio. I bet they’re wrong …

15 April 2016

BBC Culture

“The secret symbols politicians use”

Are the paintings we see over the shoulders of world leaders there accidentally? I don’t think so …

12 April 2016

BBC Culture, “In the Frame”

Ai Weiwei took pictures of himself breaking a priceless ancient vase. We should thank him …

8 April 2016

BBC Culture, “In the Frame”

Ever kiss a stranger’s feet? The Pope does it every year. A painting from 1925 throws light on the ritual …

1 April 2016

BBC Culture, “In the Frame”

Ever go Easter-egg hunting in Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights? I did, and this is what I found …

26 March 2016

BBC Culture, “In the Frame”

What can a new sculpture by Sean Scully (who was recently named “International Artist of the Year” by Harper’s Bazaar Art), tell us about China’s efforts to preserve its past? I investigate an intriguing example of cultural synergy …

18 March 2016 (106-108 fm), Talking History

Is this the greatest political painting of the age? I tell Patrick Geoghegan, host of Talking History, why it just might be ...

13 March 2016

BBC Culture, “In the Frame”

What can baseball tell us about Titian? I explain ...

11 March 2016

BBC Culture, “In the Frame”

I explore what a painterly trick that dates back to ancient Greece can tell us about a powerful image captured on the first day of a ceasefire in Syria

4 March 2016

Art Quarterly

I applaud a new book that challenges our understanding of the birth of modern art in America

Spring 2016

BBC Culture, “In the Frame”

I explain how a viral video from the White House in February 2016 reinvents an iconic image from the Harlem Renaissance of a century earlier

26 February 2016

BBC Culture, “In the Frame”

I investigate how an optical illusion by the 16th-century painter Arcimboldo throws light on anti-war protests staged in February 2016

19 February 2016


BBC Culture, “In the Frame”

I explore a strange link between the Pre-Raphaelite painter William Holman Hunt and the carnivalesque Cucurrumachos of Navalosa

12 February 2016

World at One, BBC Radio

I am interviewed by Martha Kearney
about the works of art that will define our age

8 February 2016

The Art Newspaper

"Face Time”: I explore the reinvention of portraiture since 1989

30 January 2016

The Arts Desk

I reflect on how he came to predict which works of art from our age will survice in the imaginations of future generations

24 January 2016

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

I am interviewed by RTE’s Seán Rocks on the opening of
The National Gallery Masterpiece Tour
at the Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland

19 January 2016

The Guardian newspaper, UK

Poem of the Week

My poem “The Three Rs” is selected as “poem of the week"

28 December 2015 - 3 January 2016

The Art Newspaper

“Eating Out of His Hands”

I review Goya: the Portraits

at The National Gallery, London

19 November 2015

The Independent Newspaper

“Art Since 1989” (Feature article)

November 2015


Selected by Artlyst for its annual POWER 100 list of individuals internationally "who have made a major contribution to the discipline of Contemporary Art”.
The list is topped by Ai Weiwei and also includes Marina Abramovic, Sean Scully, Banksy, Kara Walker and Olafur Eliasson 

November 2015

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

I am interviewed by Seán Rocks on the opening of the exhibition
Goya: The Portraits
at the National Gallery, London

12 October 2015

The Art Newspaper

My review The World Goes Pop
at Tate Modern, London

9 October 2015

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

I am interviewed by Jim Lockhart on the opening of the exhibition
The World Goes Pop
at Tate Modern, London

29 September 2015

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

I am interviewed by Seán Rocks on the opening of the exhibition
Ai Weiwei
at the Royal Academy of Arts, London

22 September 2015

The Art Newspaper

My review of Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust
at The Royal Academy of Arts, London

27 August 2015

The Observer

"Long day's journey into Beckett"

My review of Happy Days: Enniskillen International Beckett festival

9 August 2015

Château La Coste, France


Sean Scully: Different Places

4 July to 31 October 2015

The Art Newspaper

My review of Agnes Martin at Tate Modern, London

2 July 2015

The Times Literary Supplement

"Start again from scratch"

My review of Philip Guston at the Timothy Taylor Gallery, London

26 June 2015

Royal Academy of Art, London

The Charles Wollaston Award


(along with Ann Christopher RA and Jock McFadyen RA)  

6 June 2015

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

I am interviewed by Seán Rocks on the opening of the exhibition
Colin Davidson: Silent Testimony
at the Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland

5 June 2015

RA Magazine

My preview of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye at The Serpentine Galleries, London

21 May 2015

National Gallery of Ireland

Panel discussion

On the subject of contemporary art with art critic Aidan Dunne, Sean Rainbird (Director, NGI), and Sarah Glennie (Director, IMMA), followed by a reading of Kelly's poems after paintings

19 May 2015

National Gallery of Ireland

“Body of Light: The Art of Sean Scully”

Catalogue essay for Sean Scully retrospective exhibition

19 May 2015

The Times Literary Supplement

"Aerial abstractions"

My review of Richard Diebenkorn at the Royal Academy of Arts, London

24 April 2015

RA Magazine

"The Question: Should art be more political?"

Featured debate with artist Bob and Roberta Smith RA

Spring 2015, Issue No. 126

The Times Literary Supplement

"Veil after veil"

My review of Robert Motherwell: A Centenary Survey of Major Works

The Bernard Jacobson Gallery, St James's, London

27 February 2015

Free Thinking, BBC Radio 3

"Looking at Art"

Presenter Philip Dodd invites me to discuss how we look at art alongside documentary filmmaker Fred Wiseman, curator Iwona Blazwick, philosopher Professor Barry Smith, and artist John Keane

14 January 2015

The Times Literary Supplement

"Infamous furniture"

My review of the Allen Jones RA retrospective at the Royal Academy

9 January 2015

The Times Literary Supplement

"Cast into darkness"

My review of the 2014 Turner Prize Exhibition at Tate Britain

26 November 2014

The Times Literary Supplement

"From the infinite to the infinitesimal"

My review of Late Turner: Painting set free at Tate Britain

10 October 2014

RA Magazine

"Step this Way"

On the making of a seminal work of Contemporary Art by the British Artist Allen Jones

22 September 2014

The Times Literary Supplement

"How to destroy destruction"

My review of Mondrian and His Studios, Tate Liverpool; Mondrian and Colour, Turner Contemporary, Margate, and Nancy J. Troy's The Afterlife of Piet Mondrian (University of Chicago Press)

11 July 2014

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

Interview with Seán Rocks on the opening of the exhinition
Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision
at the National Portrait Gallery, London

10 July 2014

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

Interview with Seán Rocks on Marina Abramovic's new work
512 Hours
at The Serpentine Galleries, Kensington Gardens, London

1 July 2014

Good Morning, BBC Radio Scotland


On the auction of Tracey Emin's My Bed (1998)

1 July 2014

Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair

"What makes a masterpiece?"

In conversation with John-Paul Stonard


8 June 2014


In conversation with James Hilton

4 June 2014

Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford University


30 May 2014


The Times Literary Supplement

"Too, too solid"

My review of Miroslaw Balka's simultaneous exhibitions at White Cube (Mason's Yard) and the Freud Museum, London 

25 April 2014

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

Interview with Seán Rocks on the opening of the Ulster Museum exhibition
"Art of the Troubles"

10 April 2014

(FT Weekend) Oxford Literary Festival

Ashmolean Museum 12pm (SOLD OUT)

30 March 2014

IKON Gallery, Birmingham UK

In conversation with Stuart Tulloch


6 March 2014

The Times Literary Supplement

"What's New, Martin Creed?"

My review of Hayward Gallery's Martin Creed: What's The Point of It?

5 March 2014

Bath Literature Festival

In conversation with Bookomi's Richard Kilgarriff

Guildhall 2.45pm (SOLD OUT)

4 March 2014

Institut français, London

VIEW: A Festival of Art History

Salons 4.30pm (SOLD OUT)

7-9 February 2014


The Times Literary Supplement

"The Spectacle of Society"

My review of Tate Liverpool's Art Turning Left: How Values Changed Making 1789-2013

10 January 2014

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

Interview with Evelyn O'Rourke

On the announcement of the winner of the Turner Prize

2 December 2013

"Inside the Tech That Makes These Age-Defining Artworks Possible"

Article 30 November 2013


Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

Artist conversation

16 November 2013


The Times Literary Supplement

"Keep the Change"

My review of the 2013 Turner Prize Exhibtion

15 November 2013

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Lecture, "An Ideal Order"

12 November 2013

Tate Modern, London

"The State of Art"

In conversation with Cornelia Parker

7 November 2013

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

Interview with Evelyn O'Rourke

On the William Scott exhibition at the Ulster Museum

25 October 2013

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

Interview with Seán Rocks, from Derry, Northern Ireland

The 2013 Turner Prize Exhibition

22 October 2013

Arena, RTE Radio 1, Ireland

Interview with Sean Rocks

3 October 2013

The Times Literary Supplement

My review of Thomas Williams's The Bay Area School

20 September 2013

BBC Radio 4, The Today Programme

Interview with Sarah Montague and Rachel Campbell-Johnston

12 September 2013

The Sunday Times

"What Makes Modern Art"

Feature article, Culture Magazine

8 September 2013

The School of Life

“How To Steal a Work of Art”

What’s the best way to connect with a masterpiece and incorporate it in your life? Steal it. (Not literally, of course!) I explain how …

5 September 2013 

Timothy Taylor Gallery, London

In Conversation with Liliane Tomasko

5 September 2013

The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

Lecture: "Breaking Doric Down”

5 May 2013