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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

3 January 2018

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

Teenybop idol Justin Bieber has decided to unleash his inner Caravaggio by taking up painting. Bieber has used Instagram to unveil his first publicly available work of art: entitled Calvary, the painting depicts a vision of the cross looming across a verdant horizon as storm clouds gather in the distance. According to the artist, proceeds from the picture’s sale will go towards victims of the recent California wildfires, but disappointingly Bieber has otherwise kept shtum about his budding artistic career. Mind you, if this first effort is anything to go by, Peter Doig doesn’t have much to worry about just yet.


To Houston, where a 29-year-old woman has been arrested after reportedly causing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to the art collection of an Andy Warhol-loving suitor. Anthony Buzbee, an attorney who has hosted Donald Trump at his house for a fundraiser, says that Lindy Lou Layman became intoxicated and aggressive while on a date with him, venting her anger by tearing down paintings from the walls while throwing red wine at others. Two Warhol paintings were damaged, causing an estimated $300,000 of damage. Sounds like a more memorable first date than most…


If the art world has to date taken little notice of the career of right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, its ambivalence has apparently not been mutual. In a heavily annotated first draft of his book, Dangerous, which was made public last week, Yiannopoulos described the art establishment as a ‘one-party state’ and called on fellow alt-right travellers to rally to their easels.

Discussing a ‘a genuinely subversive’ pro-Trump art performance in which he participated in 2016, he wrote of how he ‘bathed in freezing cold pig’s blood for 45 minutes, surrounded by images of innocent Americans slain by terrorists and illegal aliens’, adding that ‘the only people pushing the envelop [sic] in art these days are Republicans’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Yiannopoulos’s fledgling attempts at art criticism didn’t go down well: in the manuscript, his editor crossed out the whole paragraph.


A grade school art teacher in Utah has been given the sack for exposing his students to that most morally repugnant of phenomena: art-historical nudes. According to the Herald Journal, Mateo Rueda was dismissed from his job at Lincoln Elementary School in Hyrum after showing students a set of educational cards that included reproductions of Modigliani’s Female Nude (Iris Tree) and a partially clothed Odalisque by François Boucher. Oh dear.


And finally, news that super-curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist has chosen to start the New Year by modelling some appropriately arty swimwear…

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