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How are British artists bearing up? Not too well, it seems…

28 June 2016

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

As reported here last week, the UK arts community outed itself as solidly in favour of remaining in the European Union. Alas, as all but the most insular readers will know, things didn’t turn out that way.

Since the Remain campaign’s surprise defeat in Thursday’s vote, the art world has been quick to respond. Bob and Roberta Smith has tweeted his support for the rather unlikely prospect of a second referendum (as if the first one weren’t tiresome enough); Wolfgang Tillmans has been quick to warn American conservatives to hold their noses in this autumn’s Trump/Clinton contest in light of the supposedly populist victory, and Anish Kapoor has accused outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron of a ‘failure of leadership’. ‘So it’s us, the old farts, who are leading our youth OUT of this great cosmopolitan project,’ the 62-year-old artist added.

Texas-based British artist Richard Patterson has written a blog in which he likens the result to a ‘kind of post-pub gut reaction to things’. To clarify: ‘The same kind of gut reaction that comes in from the pub drunk late at night and says, “F*** it, I’m gonna bust up the kitchen and rip off some cupboard doors and throw a chair through the window,” and then wakes up the next morning and has to phone a guy to come in and fix it all at great expense.’


As ever, it falls to Rakewell’s old friend Kanye West to lighten the mood a little. In an interview with Vanity Fair, the shy and retiring rapper-cum-Renaissance man declared that artist Matthew Barney ‘is my Jesus’. The Rake does wonder how Barney’s ex-wife Bjork fits into the equation. West also described his life with selfie mogul Kim Kardashian was ‘walking performance art’. Joseph Beuys would surely have been proud.


The Rake headed to the opening of the writer and historian’s William Dalrymple’s new exhibition of photographs last week. As a descendant of Julia Margaret Cameron, Dalrymple has pedigree. Alas, not all his kin were quite as effusive as one would expect: ‘Well they’re very good,’ one of his closest relatives told Rakewell. ‘But he really can’t do people, can he?’

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via@Rakewelltweets.