Saturday, January 14, 2012

A 5 minute interview with Brian Sewell

Brian Sewell seems to be becoming increasingly self-revelatory of late.  Maybe it's about getting to 80?  Maybe it's because he's recently published his autobiography - Outsider

This is a BBC video of a five minute interview with Brian Sewell on 6 January 2012.

For those outside the UK who don't know who Brian Sewell is, here's some "bits and bobs" about Brian
  • he's been the art critic for the Evening Standard since 1984 and has won several awards for his writing:
    • British Press Awards: 
    • Critic of the Year1988, 
    • Arts Journalist of the Year 1994; 
    • Hawthornden Prize for ArtCriticism 1995, 
    • Foreign Press Award (Arts) 2000
  • He's been described by some as Britain's most famous and controversial art critic
  • He's not fond of conceptual art - and consequently he's very popular with rather a lot of the ordinary public who consider he says what they think
  • He can always be relied upon for an interesting review - and his tendency to be acerbic means he'll never leave us in any doubt what he thinks about an artist (e.g. Stop it, Damien Hirst, you're embarrassing yourself).
  • Once heard never forgotten - his diction and received pronunciation are both memorable!  
  • Sewell is renowned for unsettling people due to both his personal views and his very forthright style.  There was something of a storm in the art world in 1994 when 35 art world signatories decided to write a letter to the Evening Standard attacking Sewell for "homophobia", "misogyny", "demagogy", "hypocrisy", "artistic prejudice", "formulaic insults and predictable scurrility".  Sewell responded with comments on each of his detractors.  A letter supporting Sewell from 20 other art world signatories accused the writers of attempted censorship to promote "a relentless programme of neo-conceptual art in all the main London venues". 
  • The voice plus what has been described as his is "pithily phrased disdain" and general contempt for the type of art which doesn't find popular support seem to me to be what has made him famous on television in the UK
  • I've got a very good portraiture video about Brian Sewell being painted by three different artists - but don't seem to be able to find it online.
  • he recently displayed his own taste in art (that doesn't include the Old Masters) for the first time at the ING Discerning Eye.  I was particularly struck by the lack of colour - until I found it! (see Review: ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2011 12 Nov 2011 and in particular the 3rd photo below).  However he obviously also enjoys people who can draw and portray people in paint.

Three pictures illustrating Brian Sewell's selection for the ING Discerning Eye
  • He doesn't have his own website.  I tend to think Brian probably uses a typewriter and hasn't yet heard of Twitter.  He does however have his very own fan website - probably not a good idea to enter it though!
Things I never knew until writing this post
I'm just about to finish the biography of Steve Jobs and I've got the recently published biographies of both Brian Sewell and David Hockney in the queue for the next bedtime read.  Should be interesting!

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