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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

20 June 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.

Brian Sewell may no longer be with us, but his legacy continues to entertain – as evinced by his archive, which was recently acquired by the Paul Mellon Centre. The Art Newspaper describes a letter to the late critic from Neil MacGregor, then the director of the National Gallery, written after Sewell had rubbished the gallery’s ‘Bodylines’ exhibition, partly on the basis of its ‘ill-written, ungrammatical, ill-considered’ catalogue. ‘I have just read your pitiless review and feel you deserve a very sharp slap on the wrist,’ MacGregor wrote. ‘Did I not know you better I might suggest it was unethical to urge people to stay away from an exhibition you had not yet seen.’


The Paris Review needs your help! The literary journal is currently offering a reward for information regarding the whereabouts of a Tomi Ungerer drawing of the novelist Gunter Grass that disappeared from its offices following its summer launch party. Should you be able to shed light on the mystery, the magazine has created a nifty portal for anonymous tips.


Ever wondered what gets Jeff Koons out of bed in the morning? A new video narrated by none other than Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson provides some clues. Alongside Fragonard, Manet and the rest, Koons lists Led Zeppelin as one of his formative influences, admitting that he still listens to at least half an hour of the band’s music every day. The artist also reveals that when he first unveiled the series of vacuum cleaners that made his name at MoMA in 1981, the guards got ‘upset’ that punters mistook the museum for a hoover emporium.


Last week, the Swiss press went gaga over reports that Justin Bieber might make an appearance at Art Basel as he passed through the Alpine country on tour. Alas, the rumour proved to be just that, and no confirmed sightings of the pop wonder were made. Could a Bieber visit to the Art Basel’s Miami Beach incarnation be on the cards, though? As the boy wonder himself once sang, ‘Never Say Never’.

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