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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

26 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.

The World Cup is still in the group stage, but already it’s produced its fair share of surprises. One of the strangest comes courtesy of Italian artist Fabrizio Birimbelli, who is currently exhibiting work at the Museum of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg. The show consists of portraits of footballers including Maradona, Zinédine Zidane and (of course) Cristiano Ronaldo depicted as 19th-century generals in the Russian imperial army. ‘I’ve added medals and decorations that aren’t entirely correct from a historical point of view,’ Birimbelli told Le Figaro. ‘But then I’m only a football fan’.


Meanwhile James Gibson, a heating engineer from Essex, has created some rather impressive portraits of the England squad using the dusty back of a white van as his canvas…


Victoria Beckham is dipping her (no-doubt elegantly manicured) toe into the realm of Old Master paintings. The fashion designer and erstwhile Posh Spice has hung 16 paintings by the likes of Rubens, Cranach and Peter Lely in her Dover Street boutique before they are auctioned off at Sotheby’s next month. ‘I will admit I am learning,’ she tells Vogue. ‘Old Masters is a new passion, something that I am excited to learn more about.’


Georg Baselitz has always been an artist to inspire strong emotions – and perhaps none stronger than those voiced by Washington Post critic Sebastian Smee in a review of the artist’s retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. ‘Of all the big, bloated reputations in contemporary art over the past 40 years, few can compare with that of Georg Baselitz,’ the piece begins. ‘[Baselitz] is like the bore at a party who, determined to create a stir by smashing decorum, tries one gambit after another,’ Smee continues. ‘Rudeness! Charm! Political controversy! Unwanted intimacy! Standing on your head! It’s an impressive performance, in a way. But everyone goes home asking, What was that?’. Ouch.


In an interview with the New York Times, Renaissance man Kanye West comes clean about some of his more controversial recent comments and voices his thoughts about artistic duty. ‘We need to be able to be in situations where you can be irresponsible,’ he announced. ‘That’s one of the great privileges of an artist. An artist should be irresponsible in a way – a three-year-old.’

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