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Rake’s Progress: last week in gossip

14 December 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.

Doomsday prophets are two a penny at the moment, but few come quite as well qualified as political economist Wolfgang Streek. Streek, who was an advisor to Gerhard Schroder’s government, believes that capitalism is in its death throes and warns of ‘dark ages’ to come. He is also, it turns out, something of an art lover.

For a recent Guardian interview, conducted the morning after the US presidential election, Streek asked to meet journalist Aditya Chakraborty at London’s National Gallery in order to see the museum’s ‘Beyond Caravaggio’ show. Staring at the artist’s The Taking of Christ, Streek paused to consider its prescience. ‘Caravaggio is always there just before the explosion […] ‘This morning might have been a Caravaggio moment: just before the election of Trump.’


With his stunning new retrospective at Tate Modern, Robert Rauschenberg is once again the man of the moment. Despite the fact he died in 2008, the Guardian is once again classing him as a ‘contemporary’ artist.


Rauschenberg certainly has a broad appeal, but the Rake can reveal that his influence stretches to some even more unlikely quarters: to wit, reality TV show Made in Chelsea. According to a well-connected mole, cast member Ollie Proudlock was infatuated with the artist as a teenager. As a schoolboy at Eton, Proudlock would apparently attempt to print facsimiles of Rauschenberg’s screenprints on to his jeans, and even tried to coin a term of approval in the artist’s honour. When particularly enthused by something, the TV star and designer would cry, ‘Rausch, mate!’


After whipping through the Rauschenberg show on Wednesday, the Rake spotted Benedict Cumberbatch (who once played Van Gogh on screen) admiring the fare on offer in the exhibition’s gift stall. Let’s hope his nearest and dearest are in the market for genre-defying Christmas presents.


Earlier this year, former BBC creative director Alan Yentob visited the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp outside Calais with a view to making an Imagine documentary about its inhabitants. Journalist Sam Knight, who accompanied him for a Guardian profile, reveals that even in the darkest circumstances, art is always on Yentob’s mind. Knight writes, ‘In the previous days, French police had destroyed several sections of the camp, and dozens of refugees had set fire to their shelters in protest. Yentob stood opposite one burnt-out shell and said that it reminded him of the work of the British sculptor Cornelia Parker, whom he was also making a film about. He took a picture and texted it to her.’

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