Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories. Follow @Rakewelltweets.
Ai Weiwei grabbed the headlines this week with his divisive Alan Kurdi photograph. But Rakewell is pleased to note that he is not the only artist flying the flag of protest. Lynn Barber’s interview (£) with street artist Ben Eine in last week’s Sunday Times is proof that political debate is alive and well in the art world. Eine, who counts the David Cameron among his fans, once had the phrase ‘VOTE CONSERVATIVE’ tattooed on his leg, and immediately posted a photo of it on Instagram. But the vitriol this attracted proved too much for him, and he swiftly prefixed the tat with the word ‘Don’t’. Radical.
Tracey Emin has branched out into jewellery design, collaborating with designer Stephen Webster to produce a collection titled ‘I Promise to Love You’. Highlights include a cuff piece bearing the phrase ‘More Passion’ and a delicate bracelet adorned with tiny gold penises. So far, so Tracey. Indeed, the only shock this new sideline has so far offered is that Emin’s regular critics have so far failed to work themselves into paroxysms of rage about it.
Perhaps we can put this down to the baffling number of top artists who have taken to producing jewellery of late. Later this month, London’s Louisa Guinness Gallery will be exhibiting Ron Arad Rocks, a showcase for the Israeli artist’s recent moonlighting as a jeweller, while Ai Weiwei showed off his attempts at ‘wearable art’ last autumn. The reaction to this last, however, was somewhat mixed. When Rakewell asked a top jewellery designer what she made of Ai’s foray into her metier, she was less than encouraging: ‘stick to the day job’, she offered.
Last week, after news that institutions in both Italy and France had felt the need to preserve the modesty of their nude sculptures, the Rake wondered whether 2016 marked a return to Victorian prudishness. Now, it seems, the epidemic of modesty has spread all the way to the Palace of Westminster. A new beer on sale at the Strangers’ Bar that uses an image of the Cerne Abbas giant on its logo has attracted the censors’ gaze. A photo of the offending beer tap shows the figure’s famously erect phallus covered up with a tactically placed fig-leaf sticker. Apparently, the image fell foul of parliamentary rules forbidding the slightest display of sexual imagery. As one MP aptly put it, ‘honourable members have got their knickers in a twist’.
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‘She changed how we encounter sculpture’ – remembering Phyllida Barlow (1944–2023)