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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

6 March 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.

Broadcast to great fanfare, the BBC’s no-expenses-spared Civilisations series has met with a largely positive reception. However, the corporation’s top brass won’t be popping the champagne corks just yet. For a lone critic has raised his head to contest the critical consensus, variously describing the series as ‘disappointing’, ‘all over the place’ and ‘more confused and confusing than a drunk driver negotiating Spaghetti Junction in the rush hour’. Ouch. But who was the scribe behind this most loquacious of hatchet jobs? None other than Will Gompertz – arts editor of the BBC!


Speaking of constructive criticism, Sunday Times art critic Waldemar Januszcak has provided an early candidate for hatchet job of the year. In a savage review of Tate Britain’s ‘All too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life’, Januszcak slammed the show for being ‘all over the place’, but did at least offer some suggestions should its curators be in the market for alternative employment: ‘the witterings in the wall captions about isolation and existentialism belong on a packet of Rice Krispies, so lacking are they in adult understanding and depth’.


Last week, the New York Times published an intriguing piece on some of the less likely art collectors of Manhattan, including private practitioner Bernard Kruger, doctor to the likes of Richard Prince, George Condo and Josh Smith. Recalling his first big-name art world client, the collector André Meyer, Kruger recalls that the French-born financier demanded daily visits from his doctor to his room at the Carlyle Hotel. Apparently, Meyer said, the Shah of Iran saw a doctor every day. When the Shah passed away in 1980, Kruger attempted to temper his client’s hypochondria: ‘See? Even he died,’ he told Meyer. ‘I’m just hoping my doctor is better,’ came the reply.


Harvey Weinstein  was never going to be welcome at the Oscars ceremony this year – but his distinctive mien managed to make an appearance nevertheless. A sculpture bearing Weinstein’s likeness and entitled Casting Couch was installed on Hollywood Boulevard by street artists Plastic Jesus and Joshua ‘Ginger’ Monroe ahead of the jamboree. The full-scale effigy depicted bathrobe-clad Weinstein seated on a chaise longue, while clasping an Academy Award – his very last, one suspects…


Good news for anyone interested in both Anglo-Saxon vernacular architecture and MOR pop music. According to The Times, Ed Sheeran has submitted planning permission for a chapel on the grounds of his Suffolk estate, tastefully styled to appear as though the Norman conquest never happened. Despite its aesthetic leanings, the structure will apparently be non-denominational, thoughtfully allowing guests of any creed to ‘regenerate their spiritual strength’. Lord have Mercia!

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