Andrew Lloyd Webber is a populist composer, an unashamed Tory, and an easy target, so it’s hardly surprising that given the golden opportunity of his new art exhibition the Guardian enjoys a good old sneer. Bar a handful of old songs I have no love for Lloyd Webber but this article left me irritated: its criticisms seem terribly vague. Victorian art, we are told, was solid, thorough, and middlebrow, and (therefore) lifeless and lacking “magic”. These are largely un-words – ‘life’ and ‘magic’ work like ‘soul’ and ‘energy’ do in pop criticism, as comfortingly indefinable brain-sheaths for critic and readership. The Victorians may well have been bad at art, but why is their “irritating…thoroughness” so soulless where the detail-rich art of previous eras is presumably more successful? Jonathan Jones takes for granted an airily romantic view of capital-A Art that pits the “academic” against the “aesthetic”: if you’re at all moved to question that view, his specific criticisms seem footling.

Michael Billington’s friendlier review (scroll down) saves the day by mixing interesting ideas with still quite sharp criticisms. It makes the same point as the lead article – Lloyd Webber’s art collection is an extension of his self; if you disapprove of his composition you won’t much like his curation either – but in a far less unsympathetic way.