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 58)
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


Graham-Dixon is a son of the barrister Anthony Philip Graham-Dixon (1929-2012), Q.C., [1] [2] and (Margaret) Suzanne "Sue" (née Villar, 1931–2010), a publicist for music and opera companies.

Barrister lawyer specialized in court representation in Wales, England and some other jurisdictions

A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialise in courtroom advocacy and litigation. Their tasks include taking cases in superior courts and tribunals, drafting legal pleadings, researching the philosophy, hypothesis and history of law, and giving expert legal opinions. Often, barristers are also recognised as legal scholars.

Queens Counsel jurist appointed by letters patent

A Queen's Counsel, or King's Counsel during the reign of a king, is an eminent lawyer who is appointed by the monarch to be one of "Her Majesty's Counsel learned in the law." The term is recognised as an honorific. The position exists in some Commonwealth jurisdictions around the world, but other Commonwealth countries have either abolished the position, or re-named it to eliminate monarchical connotations, such as "Senior Counsel" or "Senior Advocate". Queen's Counsel is an office, conferred by the Crown, that is recognised by courts. Members have the privilege of sitting within the bar of court.


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.

Westminster School school in Westminster, London, England

Westminster School is an independent day and boarding school in London, England, located within the precincts of Westminster Abbey. With origins before the 12th century, the educational tradition of Westminster probably dates back as far as 960, in line with the Abbey's history. Boys are admitted to the Under School at age seven and to the senior school at age thirteen; girls are admitted at age sixteen into the Sixth Form. The school has around 750 pupils; around a quarter are boarders, most of whom go home at weekends, after Saturday morning school. The school motto, Dat Deus Incrementum, is taken from the New Testament, specifically 1 Corinthians 3:6.

Christ Church, Oxford constituent college of the University of Oxford in England

Christ Church is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Christ Church is a joint foundation of the college and the cathedral of the Oxford diocese, which serves as the college chapel and whose dean is ex officio the college head.

Courtauld Institute of Art college of the University of London

The Courtauld Institute of Art, commonly referred to as The Courtauld, is a self-governing college of the University of London specialising in the study of the history of art and conservation. It is among the most prestigious institutions in the world for these disciplines and is widely known for the disproportionate number of directors of major museums drawn from its small body of alumni.


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. [3]

<i>The Independent</i> British online daily newspaper

The Independent is a British online newspaper. Established in 1986 as a politically independent national morning newspaper published in London, it was controlled by Tony O'Reilly's Independent News & Media from 1997 until it was sold to Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev in 2010. The last printed edition of The Independent was published on Saturday 26 March 2016, leaving only its digital editions.

<i>The Sunday Telegraph</i> British newspaper

The Sunday Telegraph is a British broadsheet newspaper, founded in February 1961, and is published by the Telegraph Media Group, a division of Press Holdings. It is the sister paper of The Daily Telegraph, also published by the Telegraph Media Group. Originally a separate operation with a different editorial staff, since 2013 the Telegraph has been a seven-day operation.

BBC Two second television channel operated by the BBC

BBC Two is the second flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Channel Islands. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tends to broadcast more "highbrow" programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio channels, it is funded by the television licence, and is therefore free of commercial advertising. It is a comparatively well-funded public-service network, regularly attaining a much higher audience share than most public-service networks worldwide.

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) [4] The Secret of Drawing (2005), [5] The Battle for British Art (2007), [6] The Art of Eternity (2007), [7] The Art of Spain (2008), [8] The Art of Russia (2009), The Art of Germany (2010), Art of America (2011) [9] and Art of China (2014). He is passionate about the Mona Lisa , appearing in the popular BBC documentary Secrets of the Mona Lisa (2015). [10]

Montreal World Film Festival annual film festival held in Montreal, Canada

The Montreal World Film Festival, founded in 1977, is one of Canada's oldest international film festivals and the only competitive film festival in North America accredited by the FIAPF. The public festival is held annually in late August in the city of Montreal in Quebec. Unlike the Toronto International Film Festival, which has a greater focus on Canadian and other North American films, the Montreal World Film Festival has a larger diversity of films from all over the world.

Théodore Géricault 19th-century French painter

Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault was an influential French painter and lithographer, whose best-known painting is The Raft of the Medusa. Although he died young, he was one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement.

<i>The Raft of the Medusa</i> 1818–1819 painting by Théodore Géricault

The Raft of the Medusa is an oil painting of 1818–19 by the French Romantic painter and lithographer Théodore Géricault (1791–1824). Completed when the artist was 27, the work has become an icon of French Romanticism. At 491 cm × 716 cm, it is an over-life-size painting that depicts a moment from the aftermath of the wreck of the French naval frigate Méduse, which ran aground off the coast of today's Mauritania on 2 July 1816. On 5 July 1816, at least 147 people were set adrift on a hurriedly constructed raft; all but 15 died in the 13 days before their rescue, and those who survived endured starvation and dehydration and practised cannibalism. The event became an international scandal, in part because its cause was widely attributed to the incompetence of the French captain.

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) [11] 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. [12]

100% English is a Channel 4 television programme shown in November 2006 in the United Kingdom. It looked at the genetic makeup of English people who considered themselves to be ethnically English and found that while all had an ethnic makeup similar to people of European descent, a minority discovered genetic markers from North Africa and the Middle East from several generations before they were born. The presenter was Andrew Graham-Dixon. The test results were interpreted by DNAPrint Genomics, based in Sarasota, Florida, United States.

Channel 4 British public-service television broadcaster; TV channel

Channel 4 is a British public-service free-to-air television network that began transmission on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially- self-funded, it is ultimately publicly-owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the station is now owned and operated by Channel Four Television Corporation, a public corporation of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which was established in 1990 and came into operation in 1993. With the conversion of the Wenvoe transmitter group in Wales to digital terrestrial broadcasting on 31 March 2010, Channel 4 became a UK-wide TV channel for the first time.

John Lydon English musician

John Joseph Lydon, also known by his stage name Johnny Rotten, is an English singer, songwriter and musician. He is best known as the lead singer of the late-1970s British punk band the Sex Pistols, which lasted from 1975 until 1978, and again for various revivals during the 1990s and 2000s. He is also the lead singer of post-punk band Public Image Ltd (PiL), which he founded and fronted from 1978 until 1993, and again since 2009. Since 2013, Lydon has held British, Irish and American citizenship.

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

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."

R. B. Kitaj American artist

Ronald Brooks Kitaj was an American artist with Jewish roots who spent much of his life in England.

Obituary short biography of someone who recently died

An obituary is a news article that reports the recent death of a person, typically along with an account of the person's life and information about the upcoming funeral. In large cities and larger newspapers, obituaries are written only for people considered significant. In local newspapers, an obituary may be published for any local resident upon death. A necrology is a register or list of records of the deaths of people related to a particular organization, group or field, which may only contain the sparsest details, or small obituaries. Historical necrologies can be important sources of information.

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?" [13] [14]

Honorary doctorate

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

Supporter of Young British Artists

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. [15]

Personal life

Graham-Dixon married Sabine Marie Pascale Tilly in 1985. They have three children and live in Sussex. [16]

List of credits

Film and television
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
2002The Elgin MarblesDrama-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
2007Art of EternityThree-part series on Christian art
Long-listed for Grierson Awards
2008 Art of Spain Three-part series
2008Travels with VasariTwo-part documentary exploring the life and work of the artist, architect and chronicler of the Italian Renaissance, Giorgio Vasari.
2008The Medici: Makers of Modern ArtDocumentary
2009Art of RussiaThree-part series
2009PicassoCulture Show Special
2010Art of GermanyThree-part series
2011Treasures of Heaven [17] Documentary about the British Museum exhibition on relics and reliquaries
2011I Never Tell Anybody Anything: The Life and Art of Edward Burra Documentary
2011Art of AmericaThree-part series
2012Sicily UnpackedThree-part series presented with Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli.
2013Italy Unpacked series 1Three-part series presented with Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli.
2013The High Art of the Low CountriesThree-part series
2014Italy Unpacked series 2Three-part series presented with Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli.
2014Art of ChinaThree-part series
2014The Art of Gothic: Britains Midnight HourThree-part series
2014Viking ArtPublished by BBC and broadcast as part of BBC The Culture Show series
2014British Art at WarThree-part series
2015Italy Unpacked series 3Three-part series presented with Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli.
2015Secrets of the Mona LisaDocumentary
2016Art of ScandinaviaThree-part series
2017Art of FranceThree-part series
2018Rome UnpackedTwo-part series presented with Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli.
2018Art, Passion and Power: the Story of the Royal CollectionFour-part history of the Royal Collection.
2018Stealing Van GoghDocumentary


DVD releases

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  3. Biography. Andrew Graham Dixon. Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  4. Review in the Daily Telegraph of the Caravaggio BBC TV series
  5. The Secret of Drawing: BBC FOUR webpage. Four episodes, broadcast on October 2005
  6. The Battle for British art: BBC FOUR webpage
  7. The Art of Eternity: BBC FOUR webpage. Three episodes, broadcast December 2007
  8. The Art of Spain: BBC Press Office.
  9. .
  10. BBC TV website on I, Samurai
  11. "The Culture Show, John Lydon Special". . Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  13. "ART / The Kitaj myth: The man who would leapfrog his way into History". The Independent. 1994-06-28. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  14. Andrew Graham-Dixon, "The Midas Touch?: Graduates of Goldsmiths' School of Art dominate the current British art scene," The Independent , 31 July 1990, p. 13.
  15. Biography. Andrew Graham Dixon. Retrieved on 2016-07-22.
  16. Treasures of Heaven at BBC Programmes