Saturday, 19 September 2015

Nobody could be less elitist than I

"He was the [art critic] profession’s equivalent of Dame Maggie Smith in 'Downton Abbey', a hugely entertaining old monster. His ratings were on the Downton scale too. He was genuinely loved by legions of readers, a national celebrity." - The Guardian

In a weekend where what passes for "the media" - in its obsessions with the television returns of The X-Factor, Dr Who and Downton Abbey, Jeremy Corbin, immigration and sport - barely mentioned the death of the delightful Jackie Collins, it is little surprise that the sad loss of Brian Sewell (one of the country's last remaining "old school eccentrics"; a determined foe of all that modernist guff that masquerades as "art" these days) is underwhelmingly reported.

We adored the man. His eloquent summation of the feelings of many (including our own here at Dolores Delargo Towers) about the state of 20th century art and its institutions, and the incomprehensible rise to fame and fortune of the likes of Hirst, Emin and other Turner Prize-winning types is legendary...

On The Royal Academy: ..."the grand old whore of Piccadilly, masquerading as a charity."

On David Hockney: "...he takes a subject and wrings it to exhaustion, constantly repeating tricks of handling to lend shallow interest to his fields of canvas. As for his discordant range of colour, I fell to wondering if he is the Monet of our day, his vision so dimmed by cataracts that he must paint in vile greens and viler purples if he is to see anything take shape on his innumerable canvases."

On Banksy: "The two words 'graffiti' and 'art' should never be put together... [He] should have been put down at birth. It's no good as art, drawing or painting. His work has no virtue. It's merely the sheer scale of his impudence that has given him so much publicity."

On an exhibition of Damien Hirst's skulls: "these paintings are shoddy, slip-slop and derivative... He is vain enough to proclaim that his work as Bacon's shallow pasticheur belongs in the Wallace Collection with paintings by Rembrandt and Velázquez, Titian and Van Dyck, but one minute spent in the Great Gallery with these is enough to prove the arrogance of this delusion... I declare this detestable exhibition fucking dreadful."

On Gilbert and George: “They are nothing but a pair of pretentious prats. They see all their excretions as precious. They are infantile and narcissistic.”

On Tracey Emin: "Skill, if she ever had any, has been usurped by celebrity, a celebrity nourished by deliberate outrage... The sane man must ask whether he should give any of this pretentious stuff the time of day in aesthetic terms when it seems that this self-regarding exhibitionist is ignorant, inarticulate, talentless, loutish and now very rich.”

And the final word from the great man - on himself: "Nobody could be less elitist than I."

RIP Brian Sewell (15th June 1931 – 19th September 2015)

For fun - Learn to speak like Brian Sewell

Brian Sewell on sex


  1. A true one off. He and his writing shall be greatly missed.

    1. I do hope you are practising "that voice" now there's a vacancy... Jx


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