Born in London in 1960, Andrew Graham-Dixon is one of the leading art critics and presenters of arts television in the English-speaking world. He has presented six landmark series on art for the BBC, including the acclaimed “A History of British Art”, “Renaissance” and “Art of Eternity”, as well as numerous individual documentaries on art and artists. For more than twenty years he has published a weekly column on art, first in the Independent and, more recently, in the Sunday Telegraph. He has written a number of acclaimed books, on subjects ranging from medieval painting and sculpture to the art of the present.
He has a long history of public service in the field of the visual arts, having judged the Turner Prize, the BP National Portrait Prize and the Annual British Animation Awards, among many other prizes. He has served on the Government Art Collection Committee, the Hayward Advisory Committee, and is currently a member of the board of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.
In the course of his career, Andrew has won numerous awards for writing and broadcasting and his achievements have been acclaimed by many of his most distinguished peers.
According to Robert Hughes, former art critic of Time magazine and writer of ‘The Shock of the New’: “Andrew Graham-Dixon is the most gifted art critic of his generation. Unsparing, witty and probing, with a supple style, a real passion for the concrete body of art and a clear sense of its social environment, he encourages you to think and feel”.
John Russell, long-time art critic of the New York Times, has written that “In fifty years’ experience as a fellow workman in the field, I have never known an art critic in London who responds so well, year in and year out, to the challenge of subjects that cover the whole range of Western art.”
Andrew was educated at Westminster School before winning a scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford University, where he studied English Language and Literature (1978-81), graduating with a Double First. He pursued postgraduate studies at the Courtauld Institute of Art from 1982.
In 1986, at the age of 25, Andrew Graham-Dixon was appointed Chief Art Critic of the Independent, a post in which he remained until 1998. Early in his career (in 1987, 1988 and 1989) he won the Arts Journalist of the Year Award three years in a row. In 1991, he won the inaugural Hawthornden Prize for Art Criticism. Andrew was a contributing editor of Vogue (1986-2006) and Chief Art Correspondent for Talkmagazine in New York (2003- 2005). He has contributed to the New Yorker, Apollo and numerous other publications.
Since 1999 he has been the Chief Art Correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph, writing reviews as well as the popular weekly column “In the Picture”. The column ran for five years, between 2001 and 2006, and an anthology from it was published by Penguin Books in 2005 under the title IN THE PICTURE: THE YEAR THROUGH ART.
In 1991, Andrew began his long collaboration with the BBC, in the course of which he has written and presented nearly forty documentaries about the visual arts.
His first programme, “The Billboard Project” of 1992, brought such artists as Damien Hirst, Michael Landy and Rachel Whiteread to the attention of television audiences. His second, The Raft of the Medusa, a study of Theodore Gericault’s Romantic masterpiece, was awarded First Prize in the Reportage Section of the Montreal International Film and Television Festival of 1992.
Following on from those projects, Andrew spent three years (1992-5) devising, writing and presenting the six-part series “A History of British Art”. “Brilliant,” wrote Roy Hattersley, “the line between education and art not so much blurred as obliterated.” For A.A. Gill, it “ranks with Civilisation and John Berger’s Ways of Seeing as one of the great expositions on the nature and meaning of art.” In response to the arguments advanced in the series, about the strength and importance of medieval traditions within British art, the Tate Gallery in London altered the chronological parameters within which its collection operates, to include the centuries before 1530. The series was nominated for both BAFTA and RTS awards.
“A History of British Art” was followed by a film biography of Hogarth, “Hogarth’s Progres”s (1996) and subsequently by another landmark 6-part series (1996-9), “Renaissance”, which was also nominated for an RTS award.
Andrew then wrote and presented the flagship programme for another BBC series,” Art That Shook the World”, a study of the origins of Impressionism entitled “Monet’s Impression Sunrise” (2001). This was followed by “The Secret Lives of the Artists” (2002), three films re-evaluating the lives and the works of three great artists, in the light of new forensic and historical discoveries: “Who Killed Caravaggio?”; “The Madness of Johannes Vermeer” and “Constable in Love”.
Single documentaries have included “1000 Ways of Getting Drunk in England” (2003), a study of the life and times of the great nineteenth-century graphic satirist and sometime teetotaller, George Cruikshank; “The Elgin Marble”s (2002), a ninety-minute drama-documentary examining the troubled history of Phidias’s celebrated frieze for the Parthenon; and “I, Samurai” (2006) , a journey into the distant past of Japanese art and culture. Andrew has also presented documentaries about Jasper Johns, Max Beckman, Lucian Freud, Tamara de Lempicka, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burns.
In 2006, he presented the acclaimed 4-part series “The Secret of Drawing”, produced for the BBC by leading independent producers Oxford Films. In 2007, he presented a groundbreaking 3-part series about early Christian art, “The Art of Eternity”, which was long-listed for a Grierson Award. He also presented “Petworth House: The Big Spring Clean”, a behind-the-scenes look at one of Britain’s most beautiful stately homes.
In 2008, he presented “The Art of Spain”, the first ever television series to be made about one of the great traditions of European art history. It is was shown on both BBC2 and BBC4. This was followed by “The Art of Russia” in 2009, “The Art of Germany” in 2010, “Art of America” in 2011, and most recently “The High Art of the Low Countries” and “A Night at the Rijksmuseum”.
Since 2006, Andrew has been the face of the visual arts on BBC2’s flagship cultural programme, “The Culture Show”. He is a regular contributor to BBC Radio and the World Service.
Andrew has also worked as a broadcaster outside the field of the arts. He recently presented “100 Per Cent English”, a controversial and frequently hilarious examination of the politics and DNA of race in England. The film, produced by the respected independent production company Wall to Wall, was shown on Channel 4 in 2007.
Andrew Graham-Dixon has written a number of books about art and artists. His earliest book, HOWARD HODGKIN (1993), was the first monograph on one of the leading painters of today. It was followed by A HISTORY OF BRITISH ART (1995) and PAPER MUSEUM (1995), an anthology of articles published in the Independent. RENAISSANCE was published in 1999 and IN THE PICTURE followed in 2005.
In the spring of 2007, Weidenfeld and Nicholson published MICHELANGELO AND THE SISTINE CHAPEL – a major new study of one of the world’s greatest works of art and its creator.
Andrew’s biography CARAVAGGIO: A LIFE SACRED AND PROFANE was published by Penguin in June 2010 and was shortlisted for the 2011 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.
Andrew Graham-Dixon has served on the Hayward Gallery Advisory Committee (1992-5) and on the Government Art Collection Committee (1992-6). He has been a trustee of the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art since 2005. He judged the Turner Prize in 1993.
Other aspects of work
Andrew enjoys lecturing on art and artists, both in Britain and abroad. He will be delivering the Annual Lecture for the Friends of the Barber Institute in 2008, as well as addressing the Friends of the Oriel Mostyn Gallery in Cardiff and the Friends of the V&A in London. He also embarked on a tour of lectures in 2008, in association with his book on Michelangelo.
In addition to these activities, Andrew Graham-Dixon has also organised and presented guided cultural trips abroad – in particular, to Venice, Florence, Rome and Barcelona. He also offers an advisory service, to a strictly limited number of private clients, on art collecting and how to negotiate the vagaries of the art market.
Personal life and hobbies
Andrew is married, with three children, and he lives and works in London. A keen footballer in his schooldays, he was selected to play for the All-England Public and Grammar Schools XI in 1977. He went on to captain the Old Westminster Football team for many years. Nowadays his sporting activities are mostly restricted to skiing, swimming and golf. He is a member of one of London’s oldest (and friendliest) golf clubs, the Muswell Hill Golf Club. He collects art and also fine wine, particularly bordeaux.