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Jeremy Corbyn’s heritage hang-ups

17 February 2019

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

Jeremy Corbyn’s enthusiasms, it turns out, do not stretch to the joys of Habsburg architecture. According to Jane Chapman, Corbyn’s first wife – who has been interviewed for a new book by Tom Bower – the future Labour leader was less than content as they visited Europe’s great cities while touring the continent on a motorcycle holiday in 1976.

‘In Vienna, he refused to enter the palace of Schönbrunn, the Kaiser’s summer retreat, because it was “royal”,’ writes Bower. ‘European culture offended him. He stood in Vienna’s Ringstrasse […] and pronounced it “capitalist”. He walked past all the museums and art galleries, and found no pleasure in medieval towns.’ As Chapman recalls: ‘Preservation of architecture and heritage didn’t appear to be on his agenda.’

In other news…

Andres Serrano, the artist behind the infamous Piss Christ (1987), is back in the headlines after purchasing a miniature cake baked to commemorate the wedding of Donald Trump and Melania Knauss. Serrano paid $1,880 at auction in Boston for the chocolate truffle confection, which was given to a guest as a wedding favour at the reception in 2005.


The Danish director Lars von Trier has been working on an exhibition that sounds as puzzling as his recent cinematic output. For the show at M HKA, the museum of contemporary art in Antwerp, he has reinterpreted his films through the medium of… diamonds.

According to the museum, Von Trier has ‘rearticulate[d] the hard core’ of Melancholia (2011) by having a twin diamond ‘cut in ambiguous ways’. And there’s more: ‘As far as we know, this is the only diamond of its caste […] to have been fashioned into a thought-form rather than a wearable work of art.’

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