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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

31 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.

It’s been a while since Rakewell last heard of Chris Brown, the divisive rapper who chose to get his head emblazoned with classical imagery back in 2015. What a delight it is, then, to hear that ‘Breezy’ (as he calls himself these days) has once again caught the art world’s attention. According to Mail Online, Brown has taken to showing off his favourite works of street art, illustration and photography on his Instagram page. Unfortunately, the singer’s refusal to credit the artists responsible – going so far as to crop the watermarks from certain images – has not gone down well.

When one individual took to the social media platform to make a polite complaint, Brown responded in typically diplomatic form: ‘How many people actually see this without me posting or commenting?’ he wrote. ‘You’re welcome. If I post one of y’all starving a** artists I would hope that would help you dweebs [sic].’ Charming. Incidentally, Brown is also something of a street artist himself. It’s presumably not for nothing that he goes by the alias ‘Konfuzed’.


Nancy Spector’s offer to loan Maurizio Cattelan’s fully-fuctioning, solid gold toilet from the Guggenheim Museum to the White House has raised a few eyebrows since it was revealed last week. While many have cheered on the prank, others seem less amused. According to the Huffington Post, the museum’s Facebook page has now notched up 33,000 one-star reviews from the public – most of them since #ToiletGate hit the news. Coincidence?


In a conversation with New York Magazine, singer Erykah Badu explained that it was important to ‘see good in everybody’, insisting that even the most monstrous of historical villains have their saving graces. Hitler, for example, ‘was a wonderful painter’. ‘No he wasn’t!’, exclaimed interviewer David Marchese, prompting a swift critical re-evaluation. ‘Okay, he was a terrible painter’, Badu admitted. ‘Poor thing. He had a terrible childhood.’


Dog lovers rejoice! An enigmatic painting of two Mexican Xoloitzcuintli – a breed notable for its hairlessness – is up for sale at Sotheby’s New York this week. Dating to the late 16th century, the painting may be a double portrait of a Xolo that was presented to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. Whatever the picture’s story, it’s certainly attracted some unlikely visitors…

My Ancestors! ❤ So honored to be asked by world leading arts institution and auction house, Sotheby’s to pose with perhaps the only known painting of a #xoloitzcuintli soon after arriving in #europe in the 1500’s from the #newworld 🌎 Thought to be a prized dog of Habsburg Emperor Rudolf II and an exotic addition to his menagerie, I think my #ancestors never looked better. The #monalisa of #dogs! Go see it during prestigious Masters Week at #sothebys in #nyc through January 31! Painting attributed to the #Prague School. Amazing collar re-creation by @arturoarosales 👌 What a great way to start the #yearofthedog 🐕 Woof! 🐾 #xolohairlessdog #mexicomadebrooklynraised #worldsmostfascinatingdog #xolo #xoloitzcuintle #rarebreed #dogmodel #handsomedog #mexicanhairless #pariahdog #themostinterestingdogintheworld #dogsofinstagram #petstagram #buzzfeeddogs #celebritydog #petinfluencer #topdog #dogsoftheworld #dogsloveart #dogsinpaintings

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While many critics have been portrayed by the artists they write about, few have been immortalised in the form of a party game. Step forward Jerry Saltz, who was last week presented with a four-foot piñata in his own image. The effigy was a striking likeness if ever there was one – but God only knows what sort of candy it contained.

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