Six of the Best: Jonathan Meades 01.03.12

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Jonathan Meades is a commentator on food, architecture and culture. He has made documentaries for the BBC and written extensively for the Times and Guardian.

Edward Burra, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (top image)
Bacon apart, Burra is the greatest British painter of the 20th century. The idea that he is forgotten or "neglected" belongs to the history of special pleading. He is neither. Though he is unclassifiable, he does, despite his subject matter, belong to a recognisable northern tradition which is still overshadowed by daubs from the south (and from the one-trick Freud). Burra's work ranges from the hallucinatory to the politically indignant to the exuberantly camp. (The exhibition continues until 19 February.)

Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life by Susie Harries (Chatto & Windus)
Splendid, comprehensive, detailed – and also very funny indeed. It is, among much else, a faultless portrayal of mid-century immigrant bohemia and a hymn to the joys of rigorous scholarship – both the author's and her subject's.


credit Chatto & Winduss

CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed by Frédéric Chaubin (Taschen)
The architecture of the late Soviet period in the USSR and its satellites is variously neo-expressionist, Gaudíesque, constructivist, kitsch, Breznhev-plays-Vegas. Chaubin is an assiduous traveller and fine photographer. This is a timely record of buildings that are crumbling, not least because they are monuments to a former tyranny.


credit Taschen

One New Change, City of London , Jean Nouvel
Highlight is not the apt word for Nouvel's One New Change. It is a mess, as dismal in its failed striving for originality as the illiterate neo-classicism on the other side of St Paul's is in its striving to fit in.



Olympic Park, Stratford, London
Nouvel's pathetic jest is nowhere near so ghastly as the Olympic Park, an unparalleled job lot of architectural bling made in the service of a brawn fest which has cost a fortune, will be attacked by terrorists and will leave no "legacy". It has also destroyed London's last wilderness.


credit Anthony Charlton

Union Terrace Gardens design competition, Aberdeen
The vainglorious, self important, entirely undemocratic proposal by the oil industrialist Ian Wood to deface the centre of Aberdeen by building over Union Terrace Gardens has attracted six mediocre architectural schemes – which are increasing Aberdonians' misgivings. There is, as ever, a sound case for doing nothing.


credit Big Partnership



© Estate of the Artist C/O Lefevre Fine Art Ltd, London



Jonathan Meades

quotes story

The Olympic Park, an unparalleled job lot of architectural bling made in the service of a brawn fest, has cost a fortune and destroyed London's last wilderness

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