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The lives of the artists, brought to you by Willem Dafoe

8 June 2018

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

Willem Dafoe has been on quite an artistic journey – or rather, a journey via the lives of the artists. Next month, the actor will appear at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel to read from interviews conducted by the legendary critic David Sylvester with the artists Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti.

When it comes to Giacometti, Rakewell wonders whether Dafoe will get close to matching the beguilingly crotchety performance of Geoffrey Rush in Final Portrait. Well, maybe: Dafoe is a dab hand at impersonating historical figures, after all, with turns as Pier Paolo Pasolini (in Pasolini), T.S. Eliot (in Tom & Viv) and, erm, Jesus (in The Last Temptation of Christ). And he recently finished a stint as Vincent Van Gogh, playing the much-pained painter in Julian Schnabel’s forthcoming film, At Eternity’s Gate.

But Dafoe hasn’t always had the blue-chip roles. In Schnabel’s Basquiat he appears as a sculpture who has given up on success. ‘It’s good to have something to fall back on,’ Dafoe’s character tells the young Jean-Michel. ‘That’s why I became an electrician’.

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