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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

14 March 2017

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

The great Howard Hodgkin, who died last week, was widely known as an artist with a striking sensitivity to colour. Indeed, the Turner Prize winner could be rather more than forthright about it. His good friend Julian Barnes once recalled a holiday the pair took to Taranto, on which occasion Hodgkin spotted a black towel in the window of a shop and decided to buy it. ‘So we all went in and they brought out a black towel,’ Barnes recalled. ‘“No, that’s not black,” said Howard. So they brought out another, and another, and he said, “No, I want one like the one in the window”. They eventually emptied the entire shop and were reduced to delving in the window. And that towel was indeed true black, when set beside the others. You know intellectually that painters have a more highly developed sense of colour, but this was a brilliant and unwitting public demonstration.’


The Rake learned a lot from the New Yorker’s interview with oddball rock musician Jack White. The former White Stripe, it turns out, is quite the aesthetic connoisseur. White, who trained as a carpenter, recently purchased a George Nelson-designed house in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and drove around the town looking for period furniture. But this is not the musician’s first flirtation with modernist austerity. Apparently, his entire Rock’n’Roll career to date has been predicated on the design principles of the De Stijl movement, after which the White Stripes named their second album. ‘The first thought when we started was that we were an art project with punk-rock theatre,’ White says.


Julian Charrière has the dubious honour of becoming artistic public enemy no.1 of the month. In the early hours of 2 March, police raided the French-Swiss artist’s Berlin studio and seized a one-ton air cannon. The cannon, which Charrière created for this month’s Antarctic Biennale, was intended to fire a coconut the artist had brought back from Bikini Atoll, formerly a US nuclear testing site in the Pacific Ocean. Apparently, a passer-by saw studio assistants constructing the weapon and tipped off the police. The cannon, alas, will not be travelling to Antarctica, having now been impounded in a facility for illegal weapons. To Charrière’s chagrin, the only thing going south is the project itself.


Police in New York say they have arrested an East Village resident who allegedly attacked a Metropolitan Museum security guard after getting into an argument over a supposedly crooked painting. According to the cops, security footage shows 33 year-old Brandon Aebersold approaching the guard in question and complaining that a picture on display had not been hung as flushly as it could have been. ‘The response [from the security guard] wasn’t to his liking,’ said a police spokesman. For reasons unknown, Aebersold then proceeded to beat the hapless guard over the head with a bottle. The victim, thankfully, is ‘OK’, according to the police.

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