Apollo Magazine

The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

The art of rejection (from Oxford University), James May's Matisse moment, and the rest of the week's art tittle-tattle

Rakewell – Apollo's roving eye on the art world

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

Former Top Gear presenter James May may be best known for his love of real ale and cautious driving, but in a motoring review in this weekend’s Sunday Times, he also proved himself to be a dab hand with fine art analogies. Ruminating what it means to drive a sports car, May wrote: ‘I also feel that driving a beautiful car is an act of generosity by its owner, allowing other people to see and enjoy its form. It’s like buying a Matisse and hanging it on the outside of your house’. Alas, modesty prevailed: ‘Unfortunately, the effect is ruined if you put my face in the picture’, he wrote.


Cross Stuart Semple at your peril. Regular readers will recall that after forbidding Anish Kapoor from using a new pigment he had created, Semple was outraged when the artist revealed that he had surreptitiously obtained a pot of the material. Semple now says that he has ‘managed to track down exactly who acquired it for him [Kapoor], who passed it to him and how he managed to obtain the substance’. Though Semple hopes that the matter can be resolved in a ‘friendly’ way, he has threatened to ‘take measures against all conspirators involved in the breach’. ‘Anish has been very naughty and will be told off’, he said. ‘Hopefully, that will teach him to be nice and share his colours’.


Many artists use their work to muse on rejection, but few have done so quite as literally as 18 year Claudia Vulliamy, who applied to study classics at Wadham College, Oxford, last year. On receiving her rejection letter, she immediately resolved to make the best of it – and turned the sombre document into a handsome abstract painting. ‘Between that time [she told me she had been rejected] and when I got back from work, she had made this artwork’, Vulliamy’s mother told the BBC. ‘I thought it was very funny and very spirited, and obviously I was glad she wasn’t feeling to sad about it.’


Former Labour MP Tristram Hunt’s surprise appointment as director of the V&A has prompted much discussion, with some voices questioning the wisdom of giving the position to a man who has never previously held a senior museum position. Novelist Robert Harris, however, doesn’t envisage a significant change of pace for the erstwhile shadow education secretary:

Whatever could he be referring to?

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

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