Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
The news that Frasier is to return to our screens has your correspondent wondering whether its protagonist’s art collection has survived. The sulky sitcom shrink lived in an apartment in Seattle that was decked out with modern art – including a Rauschenberg poster and whopping great Dale Chihuly vase – as well as a large collection of African objects. He was hypersensitive about chairs: always banging on about his favourite Eames lounge chair and disgusted by the mangy armchair that moved into the apartment with his father (he had a point).
Frasier knew his art – or at least, he liked to think he did. But he was a gullible collector, wasn’t he? In one episode he threw a cocktail party to unveil his latest acquisition, only for the artist to turn up and declare it a fake.
Back in the ’90s the sitcom’s writers could use the African objects as both an emblem of Frasier’s pretensions to worldliness and also an opportunity for a quick gag. ‘While most Ashanti statues are intended to ward off evil spirits,’ he says in one episode, ‘this one was designed to distract me while my pockets were picked at the Kinshasa Airport.’ Perhaps he shouldn’t have bought an object from modern-day Ghana while travelling in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but there you go (and, erm, Ashanti sculpture doesn’t look like that). Maybe he’s put all those years off air to good use and started doing some research.
In the Frasier revival, Kelsey Grammer is returning in the lead role. But it looks unlikely that his co-stars will be back – David Hyde Pierce (Niles) and Jane Leeves (Daphne) have previously said that they’re not interested in reprising their roles, and John Mahoney (Martin) died in 2018. Perhaps it will just be Frasier and his art collection, after all.