Adrian Hamilton

The Independent’s former comment editor, Adrian Hamilton writes a weekly column largely on international affairs with particular focus on the Middle East, Iran and foreign policy issues. Before joining the paper he was deputy editor of the Observer newspaper.

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Turner-Prize winning artist Simon Starling (right) stands in front of his new film installation Phantom Ride commissioned by Tate Britain which shows images of artworks that been shown at the Tate in the past.

Art review: Tate Britain's self-reflexive new commission 'Phantom Ride' by Simon Starling is elegantly executed but too restricted

Public galleries make much of their artist commissions these days. The more traditional their collections, the more directors want to give a contemporary zing to their establishments by presenting a new work by a contemporary artist. But they are, by nature constrictive. You ask an artist to make a statement about the collection, the edifice or whatever, but too often it remains just that: a statement rooted to a place by the terms of the deal.

Exhibition of the week: Barocci: Brilliance and Grace, National Gallery, London WC2

British museums are short of paintings by the Italian mannerists and post-Renaissance artists, and Federico Barocci was recognised by his peers as the finest of his generation.

World View: Be realistic about Obama’s trip to Israel – he’s going because he has to

Plus: With billions wasted through corruption, lack of security and poor contracts, the true cost of our failure in Iraq is beyond count

Federico Barocci’s ‘Entombment of Christ’ (1579-82)

Simply divine: Barocci at the National Gallery

In his day, the 16th-century Italian artist Federico Barocci could count the Pope among his patrons – yet his work is almost unknown in Britain. A spectacular new show at the National Gallery will change that

A shift in the Vatican? If you believe the Pope is retiring, you’ll believe anything

Plus, the so-called "Friends of Syria" have taken the worst of all possible courses

Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase (No.2) ( 1912)

The French Connection: Marcel Duchamp's American legacy is explored in new exhibition

When the Dadaist left Occupied France for New York, his influence on the American cultural scene ranged from art to dance and music. Adrian Hamilton explores an exhilarating new show at the Barbican

Exhibition of the Week: Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, Tate Modern, London SE1

With an artist so well known, it is tempting for a gallery to try and freshen him up with a novel interpretation. Mercifully, Tate Modern has decided to play it straight.

Man Ray's 'Solarized Portrait of Lee Miller' (c1929)

Exhibition of the Week: Man Ray Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London WC2

Leading light of the surrealists, lover of women, ever experimental in form, Man Ray was also a supreme portrait photographer for his friends and for fashion magazines from the Twenties into the Seventies.

It doesn’t help getting in a tizzy over North Korea

Plus, what the President didn't say in his State of the Union address

Becoming Picasso, Courtauld Gallery, London

The Courtauld Gallery, which has brought us a succession of tightl focused small exhibitions in recent years, has come up with another real stunner. Becoming Picasso is the story of the Spanish painter’s arrival – brash, determined and hungry for the bohemian life – in the French capital in 1901.

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