David Chipperfield’s Berlin temple: ‘Like ascending to the realm of the gods’

Twenty years in the making, this dazzling synthesis of the classical and modern takes Museum Island to new heights Friedrich Wilhelm IV described his vision for James Simon Gallery stands as a 134m (120m) Parthenon-on-Spree, forming a handsome new entrance to one of the worlds most important repositories of cultural treasures. We were quite nervous, says Chipperfield, standing in the lofty new ticketing lobby, where stripes of sunlight flood in between the row of slender white columns outside. The challenge was how to create something that was of its context and also of our time, in this incredibly sensitive location. He had good reason to be anxious. His first design, unveiled in 2006, was slammed by German critics as grossly …

Now kids, help us to kill Bin Laden! The dark side of Washington’s spy museum

The bugged shoes and poison brollies are fun and fascinating. But why are the sections about state-sponsored torture and assassination so uncritical? Sitting in a glass case, standing out against a backdrop of deep red, theres axe that still bears a rust mark, the consequence of a bloody fingerprint left on it decades ago. One day in 1940, this axe was hidden inside Ramn Mercaders suit jacket, suspended by a string, as he walked into the office of Leon Trotsky, the Russian revolutionary living in exile in Mexico, having been sentenced to death as an enemy of the people in his home country. Mercader slipped behind Trotskys desk and brought the axe down with tremendous force, penetrating two-and-three-quarter inches into …

Whitney Biennial 2019: why is this year’s show so safe?

The show, increasingly typified by controversial resistance art, is presenting a mostly safe front this year despite a growing protest over a Whitney trustee When the doors open on the sixth floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the first thing one sees is a snowman painting by Calvin Marcus. Its an underwhelming statement for the Whitney Biennial, arguably Americas most politically charged art event, which opens on Friday. The curators, Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley, both staffers at the museum, wanted to take a more subtle approach for this 79th edition of the biennial, which features 75 artists, half of whom are women. Despite the countrys political upheaval and the looming elections in 2020, it comes as a …

Leonardo da Vinci events marred by Italy and France row

500th anniversary of artists death overshadowed by escalating diplomatic tensions Events to commemorate Leonardo da Vinci will take place in France and Italy on Thursday, the 500th anniversary of the artists death, with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, hosting his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarella. The two heads of state will meet at Amboise in the Indre-et-Loire region to visit the Chteau du Clos Luc, where Da Vinci lived from March 1516 until his death in 1519. It was at Clos Luc that the Renaissance master painted three of his most famous works: Mona Lisa, St John the Baptist and the Virgin and Child with St Anne. The three paintings are displayed in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Macron extended the …