Apollo Magazine

The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

Daniel Hannan gets furious about a statue of Engels, and the rest of this week's arty tittle-tattle

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

Artist Phil Collins has made headlines by transporting a statue of Friedrich Engels from a village in Ukraine to Manchester, where the Marxist thinker’s family once had a stake in the textile industry. Now installed in the city’s Tony Wilson Place, the statue has on the whole received a positive welcome, with locals celebrating the fact that the city has at last acknowledged Engels as a significant figure in its history.

It seems not everyone is on message, however. Conservative MEP Dan Hannan penned a furious piece for the International Business Times comparing Engels to Hitler and asking what he thought were some big questions:

Thankfully Stig Abell, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, was on hand to answer the question on behalf of, erm, just about everyone else:


Further proof that the selfie is destroying art. In Los Angeles, a visitor to the 14th Factory space in Lincoln Heights was so keen to get a picture of herself in front of an installation by Simon Birch and his collaborators that she took up a difficult pose, lost her balance, and ended up causing a reported $200,000 worth of damage to the work. The gallery has denied that the whole thing was a PR stunt…


A bizarre incident at New York’s Museum of Sex has led to the filing of a lawsuit against the institution, after a visitor was allegedly injured at its ‘Funland: Pleasures & Perils of the Erotic Playground’ installation in 2014. Melanie Abramov, a Ralph Lauren employee, claims that she required dental implants and surgery to her nose after slipping and falling on a ‘boob bouncing’ attraction in 2014. ‘Pleasures and perils’ indeed…


Newsweek has traced the provenance of a portrait of Steve Bannon as Napoleon, based on David’s likeness of the French emperor in his study. The picture came from a business called Nobilified, which specialises in such art-historical bodysnatching.

While Napoleon is no doubt a favourite subject for the company’s clients, other high-profile commissions include a likeness of singer Bruno Mars grafted on to the body of Wright of Derby’s Thomas Gisborne. Other templates include Caravaggio’s Dionysus, Holbein’s depiction of Henry VIII and, inevitably, Grant Wood’s American Gothic.

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