Andrew Graham-Dixon

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Andrew Graham-Dixon
Andrew Graham-Dixon presenting the Grower of the Year Awards 2012.jpg
Andrew Graham-Dixon in 2012
Born (1960-12-26) 26 December 1960 (age 57)
London, United Kingdom
Alma mater
  • Art historian
  • Television presenter
Known for

Andrew Michael Graham-Dixon (born 26 December 1960) is a British art historian and broadcaster.

Life and work[edit]


Graham-Dixon is a son of the barrister Anthony Graham-Dixon and Suzanne "Sue" (née Villar, 1931–2010), a publicist for music and opera companies.


Graham-Dixon was educated at the independent Westminster School, where he was pushed to get into a well-paid job by his father and not waste time learning at school. This meant he finished his O Levels at age 14 and A Levels at age 16. He continued his education at Christ Church, Oxford, where he read English. He graduated in 1981, before pursuing doctoral studies at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.


Graham-Dixon began work as a reviewer for the weekly Sunday Correspondent, before becoming the chief art critic of The Independent newspaper where 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. As of 2005 he is the chief art critic of The Sunday Telegraph. Since 2004, he has also been a contributor to the BBC Two's The Culture Show on a variety of subjects, and is often the main presenter of the programme.[1]

In 1992, Graham-Dixon won the first prize in the Reportage section in the Montreal World Film Festival for a documentary film about Théodore Géricault's painting The Raft of the Medusa. He has since gone on to present several BBC documentary series on art, including A History of British Art (1996), Renaissance (1999), Caravaggio (2002)[2] The Secret of Drawing (2005),[3] The Battle for British Art (2007),[4] The Art of Eternity (2007),[5] The Art of Spain (2008),[6] The Art of Russia (2009), The Art of Germany (2010), Art of America (2011)[7] and Art of China (2014). He is passionate about the Mona Lisa, appearing in the popular BBC documentary Secrets of the Mona Lisa (2015).[8]

In 2018 he presented a four part series on BBC Four, Art, Passion & Power: The Story of the Royal Collection.

He has also presented programmes on subjects other than art, such as I, Samurai (2006)[9] and The Real Casino Royale for the BBC and 100% English (2006) for Channel 4. In 2010, he interviewed John Lydon for a Culture Show special about Public Image Ltd.[10]

Graham-Dixon also wrote and presented the BBC documentary Who Killed Caravaggio?, broadcast on BBC 4 in 2010. The same year, his biography of Caravaggio was published as Caravaggio: A Life Sacred And Profane.

"The Tate Wars" with R.B. Kitaj[edit]

In 1994 American expatriate R.B. Kitaj had a retrospective at the Tate Gallery in London. Graham-Dixon, and several other London art critics, wrote negative reviews of the show, in some cases expressing personal, vicious attacks against the artist. Kitaj blamed the subsequent sudden death of his wife, artist Sandra Fisher, on the stress caused by these articles. Graham-Dixon's own paper, The Independent said in an obituary for Fisher: "The fierce antagonism of newspaper critics towards Kitaj's recent late retrospective—in contrast to the response of an admiring public—made for a stressful last summer for a woman who will be remembered by many for her almost saintly happiness."

Kitaj's friend Sandy Wilson penned a letter to Graham-Dixon and other critics questioning the personal and vitriolic nature of their criticism, which many artists like David Hockney and Peter Blake signed. Lucian Freud commented on the letter: "Though it's often a good idea to write to someone in order to object, agree, question or ridicule anything they may have said or done...I feel it pointless to gang up on a third-rate critic when you don't consider him seriously. As they wisely say in Ireland: what do you expect from a pig but a grunt?" [11] [12]

Honorary Doctorate[edit]

Andrew Graham-Dixon was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Plymouth University in 2010.

Supporter of Young British Artists[edit]

He was an early supporter of the later-to-be Young British Artists (YBA) artists. In 1990 he wrote:

Goldsmiths' graduates are unembarrassed about promoting themselves and their work: some of the most striking exhibitions in London over the past few months—"The East Country Yard Show", or "Gambler", both staged in docklands—have been independently organised and funded by Goldsmiths' graduates as showcases for their work. This has given them a reputation for pushiness, yet it should also be said that in terms of ambition, attention to display and sheer bravado there has been little to match such shows in the country's established contemporary art institutions. They were far superior, for instance, to any of the contemporary art shows that have been staged by the Liverpool Tate in its own multi-million-pound dockland site.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Andrew Graham-Dixon married Sabine Marie Pascale Tilly in 1985. They have three children and live in Sussex.[14]

List of credits[edit]

Film and television
Year Title Notes
1992 The Billboard Project
1992 The Raft of the Medusa First Prize in the Reportage Section of the
Montreal International Film and Television Festival
1996 A History of British Art Six-part series
Nominated for BAFTA and RTS awards
1996 Hogarth's Progress
1999 Renaissance Six-part series
Nominated for RTS award
2001 Art That Shook the World Series 1 episode 1 "Monet's Impression Sunrise"
2002 Secret Lives of the Artists Three-part series on Constable,Vermeer, Caravaggio
2002 The Elgin Marbles Drama-documentary on the Elgin Marbles
2003 1000 Ways of Getting Drunk in England
2004–present The Culture Show
2005 The Secret of Drawing Four-part series
2006 I, Samurai
2006 The Real Casino Royale
2006 100% English
2007 The Battle for British Art
2007 The Art of Eternity Three-part series on Christian art
Long-listed for Grierson Awards
2008 Art of Spain Three-part series
2008 Travels with Vasari Two-part documentary exploring the life and work of the artist, architect and chronicler of the Italian Renaissance, Giorgio Vasari.
2008 The Medici: Makers of Modern Art Documentary
2009 Art of Russia Three-part series
2009 Picasso Culture Show Special
2010 Art of Germany Three-part series
2011 Treasures of Heaven[15] Documentary about the British Museum exhibition on relics and reliquaries
2011 I Never Tell Anybody Anything: The Life and Art of Edward Burra Documentary
2011 Art of America Three-part series
2012 Sicily Unpacked Three-part series presented with Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli.
2013 Italy Unpacked series 1 Three-part series presented with Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli.
2013 The High Art of the Low Countries Three-part series
2014 Italy Unpacked series 2 Three-part series presented with Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli.
2014 Art of China Three-part series
2014 The Art of Gothic: Britains Midnight Hour Three-part series
2014 Viking Art Published by BBC and broadcast as part of BBC The Culture Show series
2014 British Art at War Three-part series
2015 Italy Unpacked series 3 Three-part series presented with Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli.
2015 Secrets of the Mona Lisa Documentary
2016 The Art of Scandinavia Three-part series
2017 The Art of France Three-part series
2018 Rome Unpacked Two-part series presented with Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli.
2018 Art, Passion and Power: the Story of the Royal Collection Four-part history of the Royal Collection.
2018 Stealing Van Gogh Documentary


DVD releases[edit]

  • Art of Spain (2010)
  • Art of Germany (2011)
  • Art of China (2015)
  • Art of America (2014)
  • Italy Unpacked (2014)
  • Sicily Unpacked (2014)


External links[edit]