Arts and Entertainment Technicians hanging 'Three studies of Isabel Rawsthorne' by Francis Bacon, estimated to fetch 10 million pounds

Masterworks by British contemporary art giants Francis Bacon and David Hockney will go under the hammer today in a £66 million bonanza.

John Plumb: Abstract painter showcased in the 1960 exhibition 'Situation'

If proof were needed that success can blight a painter's career, then the life of John Plumb would provide it in spades. Plumb scored his first triumph as an artist 60 years ago when a portrait of his future wife, Joan Lawrence, was chosen for exhibition at the New English Art Club. The 21-year-old painter was then still a student at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London; a decade later, he was having solo shows at the trend-setting Gallery One in London. In September 1960, Plumb's fame peaked with his inclusion in the Royal Society of British Artists' exhibition "Situation".

Joan Bakewell: Macmillan could afford to be optimistic in his day

Harold Macmillan is with us again, stalking the stage of the National Theatre in the totally convincing person of Jeremy Irons... the same long, lean gait, the bristling moustache, the body language displaying breeding and charm.

Ship's passengers stranded in bomb alert

Nearly 150 ferry passengers and 101 crew were stranded on ships in the River Mersey today after a large bomb was seen floating in the water.

THOMAS SUTCLIFFE: Steel yourself for a conversation

Walking round Tate Britain's Sir Anthony Caro retrospective I was struck by an obvious thought. Regrettably, this kind of collision is far more common than sudden impacts with the dazzlingly original or the conceptually unprecedented, but you have to work with what you get, don't you?

Art critics? Give me a gifted amateur any day

`The average product of the professional writer on art is, at best, dull; at worst, gibberish'

Critics' Awards 1999 - Visual Arts: No one was big enough

When archaeologists of the new millennium come to excavate the art of 1999, they will doubtless dub it the Year of Tracey's Bed. This will say more about the fin de siecle than they know. In 1998, the Turner Prize behaved as it always had. The Prize is sponsored by a media company and was won, as you would expect, by the work that had attracted the most odium in the press: namely several pieces of elephant dung, coincidentally attached to some rather well-painted canvases. In '99, though, something went wrong. Tracey's Bed - skidmarks! vodka bottles! (gasp) menstrual blood! - was the stuff of televisual dreams: yet it lost to the considered work of Steve McQueen. Was this the end of celebrity art?

Real Choices: Before the week is out ...

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Bowie's hand, Emin's legs, Bremner's voice

THE ART world is to be given a rare opportunity to compare and contrast the work of bad girl Tracey Emin with the more conventional style of HRH the Prince of Wales.

Visual Arts: Fragments of time, preserved as if in amber

The works of Charles Christopher Hill, painstakingly built up over many months, have a unique, shimmering playfulness.

Leading article: The shock of the old

THERE IS one constant about cutting-edge artists. They are robust in their defence of the shock of the new while it is they who are new and doing the shocking. But, all too predictably, they become champions of artistic tradition when a new generation threatens to eclipse their own shock value. Generational tensions have been there since the Renaissance, when Titian reputedly chucked that young upstart Tintoretto out of his studio.

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British masters on show in miniature

AN EXHIBITION featuring original works by some of Britain's greatest contemporary artists opened in London yesterday, but all the paintings were only one inch wide.

Obituary: Alex Gregory-Hood

NOTHING COULD have been more surprising and in its own way more exotic for the London art world than the sudden arrival on the British contemporary art scene in 1962 of Alex Gregory-Hood as director of a new gallery in Lowndes Street, Belgravia.

SPORT ON TV: After the Snickometer, bring on the box-cam

SILLY OLD Channel 4. They go to all that trouble and expense to wrest the cricket from the BBC's despairing grasp, and all for what? For highlights of England v New Zealand, that's what.
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