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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

4 April 2017

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

With his, erm, emphatic ears and knack for political gaffes, Tony Abbott was a dream come true for political cartoonists during his two-year stint as the Australia’s prime minister… though not so much for fine artists. How times change. Commissioned to create a bust of him to complement the other likenesses of Aussie PMs on Prime Ministers Avenue in Ballarat, Victoria, the sculptor Linda Klarfeld has admitted that she was rather taken with Abbott’s natural gifts.

‘It wasn’t an easy one. I personally think he’s quite attractive, and I always say attractive people are hard to sculpt because it’s hard to make them look real,’ she told the Sydney Morning Herald. ‘He has a Roman nose, his ears are not big and I don’t know why the cartoonists always pull them out the way they do, but for sculpture they’re very good. […] All his features are very strong. He has a chiselled face, which is very good for sculpture.’


The Rake’s radio pick this week can only be the BBC Radio 4’s Great Lives, which this week features Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp discussing his love of, erm, E.W. Godwin. According to the blurb for the show, ‘True’ hitmaker Kemp began collecting the work of the 19th-century architect-designer as soon as the royalties started rolling in from his music. ‘Writing about music is like dancing about architecture’, as one wag once put it. The Rake wonders if he was aware of the Ruskinian interests of the New Romantics…


Last week, the New York Times got access to the Manhattan apartment of actress Brooke Shields, and got a good look at her art collection. Shields says she has never spent more than $7,000 on a work of art, but has had the good fortune to have received works by the likes of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring as gifts from the artists themselves. She is not, she says, interested in art as an investment. So what is her rationale for collecting? ‘I want stuff […] and I really have to not make rash decisions.’


Saturday saw some strong efforts in the field of art world April fools. The Art Newspaper issued a report alleging that Russia’s State Hermitage Museum was in negotiations to open a satellite branch in the new Trump Hotel in Washington, to be directed by one ‘Brad Butin’. Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum, meanwhile, claimed that it was set to partner with a chocolate company in order to create a limited edition candy modelled on Giacometti’s Walking Man I.

Then there was Hyperallergic’s story about the Metropolitan Museum launching a partnership with Airbnb. The deal, so the story went, would allow museum visitors to rent out the institution’s period rooms for a night at a time when the the venerable institution is coming to terms with a widely reported budget shortfall. Sounds funny, until you remember that, in 2015, Airbnb struck an uncannily similar deal with the Paris Catacombs

Apollo itself carried plans of Damien Hirst’s plans to pickle Tracey Emin and other YBAs in formaldehyde for a show programmed for 2068. Stranger things have happened…

This post was updated on 4 April to substitute reference to Hyperallergic’s 2015 April fool story with its 2017 April fool story.

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