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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

19 September 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.

Last week, Tracey Emin invited Guardian critic Jonathan Jones to watch her ‘make’ her notorious 1998 installation My Bed at Tate Liverpool. If nothing else, the experience provided a perfect retort to the cynics accusing Emin of faking the more squalid aspects of her art. According to Jones, the detritus accessorising the artist’s fin de siècle masterpiece ‘really is rank’.

Yet in the YBA domestic exposé stakes, Emin is perhaps now being upstaged by her contemporaries. Damien Hirst’s girlfriend Katie Keight has been posting pictures of herself and her beau lounging about their Regent’s Park mansion. So if you’ve ever wanted to get a glimpse of the erstwhile enfant terrible of British art’s taste in upholstery, look no further. And news just in is that fellow ’90s hell raiser Dinos Chapman has put his east London home on the market for a cool £2.95 million…


To the Wallace Collection, where the crowds were out in force last Wednesday for the opening of Tom Ellis’s exhibition, ‘The Middle’. Drifting outside after outgoing director Christoph Vogtherr’s valedictory speech, the Rake was heartened to see some of Ellis’s relatives inspecting the handsome bronze abstract sculpture the artist has placed on the museum’s lawn. On discovering that one face of the work was covered in black permanent marker doodles, one member of the group was moved to comment: ‘Ah. Well, Tom always did like to deface beautiful things’.


Over in the US, the museum of the moment is the Smithsonian’s hotly anticipated National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Indeed, should the words of outgoing President Barack Obama be heeded, even Donald Trump might be moved to make an appearance. In a personal plea for African American people to vote for Hillary Clinton in November’s elections, the President referred to a recent speech made by the Republican nominee: ‘You may have heard Hillary’s opponent in this election say that there’s never been a worse time to be a black person. I mean, he missed that whole civics lesson about slavery or Jim Crow,’ said President Obama. ‘But we’ve got a museum for him to visit. So he can tune in. We will educate him.’ About time, too.


The press lunch for the START art fair at London’s Saatchi Gallery on Wednesday was a liquid affair, to say the least. After several glasses of wine to wash down their fish and chips, the thirsty hacks present at the event were encouraged to pop open the handsome bottles of Spey single malt whisky that the organisers had left on the tables. Artistic director Niru Ratnam rose to give a speech clutching a tumbler of the golden stuff, declaring that he couldn’t possibly drink another drop if he was to stay the course of the afternoon. Verily, an inspiration to us all…

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