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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

20 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.

In an interview with the Guardian, artist Paul Cummins discusses the project that saw 888,264 ceramic poppies installed around the moat of the Tower of London in 2014. The installation proved to be wildly popular – but as Cummins reveals, it might never have happened had it not been for a case of mistaken identity: ‘I was keen to have a venue that was historically significant,’ he remembers. ‘The Tower of London was the fourth place I tried. I got put through to someone by sheer chance: the Tower’s deputy governor has a friend also called Paul Cummins and they thought I was him.’


Peculiar news from Buckinghamshire, where the town of Aylesbury is about to unveil a public sculpture of the much-missed David Bowie. Aylesbury, of course, is something of a pilgrimage site for Bowie fans: early in his career, the singer played at the town’s Friars music club several times, notably making his first performance as Ziggy Stardust at the venue. Yet some locals, it seems, won’t be sated by a statue alone: according to The Times, Aylesbury residents are leading a campaign to go one further and re-name the entire town in the Starman’s honour. Their preferred choice, if you hadn’t guessed, is ‘Aylesbowie’.


If ever you’ve felt that your enjoyment of contemporary art museums would be just that little more enhanced without the obligation to wear clothes, you might be in luck. On 5 May, Paris’s Palais de Tokyo will host a one-off event for naturists, allowing visitors to stroll around its galleries without so much as a fig leaf to cover their modesty. Anyone interested can apply through the Paris Naturists’ Association – but don’t, whatever you do, just turn up and strip off. As Déborah de Robertis would no doubt tell you, the French capital’s museums haven’t always been quite so receptive to public nudity…


Pity Prince Charles, who has the considerable misfortune of being biographer Tom Bower’s latest subject. Among other nuggets, Bower’s Rebel Prince alleges that Lucian Freud was once asked whether he would swap one of his oil paintings for one of Charles’s own watercolours. ‘I don’t want one of your rotten paintings’, came Freud’s characteristically charming response.


Finally, Hunter College’s Michael Lobel has identified what must be this week’s least-probable art-historical lookalike…

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