Art and design






Life and style








US news

World news

Quentin Blake’s The Photo: life’s disappointments in microcosm

Blake’s birds have a lightly worn pathos
Flappy snaps ... Blake’s birds have a lightly worn pathos. Photograph: Quentin Blake

Feelgood factor

Thanks to his work with Roald Dahl, the illustrations of Quentin Blake are so well known that it’s easy to take them for granted. We all recognise the scratchy, loose, improvised lines and the good-natured mood. Yet his work’s range can be surprising.

Bird brain

The Photo, from the artist’s unpublished personal collection, is one of many images he’s created of birds. According to Blake, our feathered friends are “a kind of illimitable repertory company able to deal with all sorts of human situations”.

Haven’t we met before?

Like all great cartoons, The Photo seems to sum up something fundamental that we know about our fellow travellers. Yet while this scene suggests a stereotype – tourists on holiday – it’s also open-ended enough to set our imaginations to work.

Life lessons

The parents have bodies on which life’s disappointments and struggles are gently written, her slumped shoulders and shapeless clothes, his ungainly skinniness. The son combines their physical qualities in a soft echo of Larkin’s famous line about what your mum and dad bequeath to you. Its pathos is startling, yet lightly worn.

Part of Quentin Blake: The Life of Birds, House of Illustration, N1, to 1 October

This article titled "Quentin Blake’s The Photo: life’s disappointments in microcosm" was written by Skye Sherwin, for The Guardian on Friday 11 August 2017 11.00am

Art and design

Ken Loach says his beloved Bath is being ruined by tourism

The film director and activist Ken Loach has claimed that his beloved home city of Bath is being… Read more

Meet Liz Diller, the rebel architect behind MoMA, the High Line and now a home for Simon Rattle

‘We’ve never stopped being rebellious,” says Liz Diller, founding partner of Diller Scofidio +… Read more

Judy Chicago: 'In the 1960s, I was the only visible woman artist'

When artist Judy Chicago was a student at the University of California in 1960, she had one… Read more

Examining the plumbing of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, 1917

Water works In 1917, Duchamp performed a remarkable trick, imbuing an everyday object with the… Read more

Mystery over Christ’s orb in $100m Leonardo da Vinci painting

This article is the subject of a legal complaint made on behalf of Christie’s International Plc. A… Read more

Disquieting, disturbing and fantastical Hyper Real takes over the NGA

To be “hyper real” - the National Gallery of Australia’s latest exhibition is somewhat at pains to… Read more

How artist Kahlil Joseph restored faith in the music video

There is a biblical proverb, “Iron sharpens iron,” but when the film-maker Kahlil Joseph relays it… Read more

The Chapmans go to war, photographers turn feral and Cézanne blows us away

Exhibition of the week Cézanne Portraits The searching and profound portraits of Paul Cézanne are… Read more

New York's Chinatown hits back at Omer Fast's 'poverty porn' art exhibition

On Sunday, a group of protesters stormed an art gallery in New York’s Chinatown with signs that… Read more

Chris Hoggett obituary

My partner, Chris Hoggett, who has died aged 89, was a book illustrator and a towering figure on… Read more