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Tony Grist

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Sewell [Jun. 5th, 2007|09:17 am]
Tony Grist
By the way, I love Brian Sewell.

I found the archive of his Evening Standard articles last night and once I'd started in on them I couldn't stop. It's not that he's such a wonderful writer- because he's not, he can be very stilted- but he's independent, honest and fearless.

You can't predict his enthusiasms or his bete noirs. He loathes Tate Modern (which everyone else pretends to like) and most contemporary art.  But he's not just a fuddy-duddy conservative. He loves Joseph Beuys and- most outre of all- the Chapman brothers.  When everyone else was hymning Hogarth earlier this year, Sewell wrote an article pointing out his limitations. When Turner's "Blue Rigi" came on the market he suggested that the Tate- if it really, really wanted it- should sell some of its huge collection of "rubbish" Turners to raise the asking price. His review of the recent Renoir exhibition at the National Gallery- which most critics swooned over- is a glorious demolition job. He detests Gilbert and George.

Art has become a religion. The "great" artists have been sanctified by the prices paid for their work. We tiptoe round them like we were in church. Sewell just won't play that game. There's no false reverence. He says exactly what he thinks.

And, yes, he's right. Renoir is crap.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2007-06-05 10:43 am (UTC)
I haven't read the article on the Renoir show (Thanks for the link - I will now) but I whole heartedly agree - 'boiled ladies' Renoir is (mostly) crap!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-05 12:35 pm (UTC)
I had an art teacher once who told us Renoir was the greatest painter in the world because he painted "happiness".
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2007-06-05 01:10 pm (UTC)
I think we might both get struck off if I used the word I'd like - to describe a teacher like that.
BAH!!!!!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-05 01:18 pm (UTC)
He was a sad, bitter man- a would-be genius who couldn't forgive himself for ending up as a mere school-master.

I don't want to be hard on him- he was more fun to be around than most of my teachers.
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2007-06-05 01:25 pm (UTC)

I don't want to be hard on him-

I suppose its very easy to judge; but as a teacher who has chosen to be a teacher - all-be-it after a very varied life journey, its sad. Of all the many many jobs I've done, the most satisfying to date has been as a teacher. Its too bad he couldn't realise how much creativity comes from helping young lives achieve their potentials. He'd have been happier for it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-05 03:36 pm (UTC)

Re: I don't want to be hard on him-

He stayed in that post until retirement (at least I think he did) and died a few years ago. Quite possibly he mellowed with age. When I knew him he was an angry young man- still in his 30s. He may not have liked the work but he was a good and stimulating teacher.
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[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2007-06-05 01:05 pm (UTC)
Humph. I like Renoir.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-05 01:14 pm (UTC)
Ah well, it would be a dull world if we all agreed about everything....
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[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2007-06-05 02:16 pm (UTC)
Variety is the spice of life!
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[User Picture]From: sina_says
2007-06-06 02:38 pm (UTC)
god, i'd not thought about beuys since art school. the thing with the bunny always simultaneously intrigued me and creeped me out.

random note. sorry.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-06 03:51 pm (UTC)
I don't know much about Beuys, but there's an installation in Tate Modern that's awesome.
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[User Picture]From: sina_says
2007-06-06 04:33 pm (UTC)
the thing with the sleds?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-06-06 05:23 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's the one...
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