The British Art critic Brian Sewell has died aged 84. Mr Sewell who was considered an expert on the French artist Poussin was the art critic for the London Evening Standard newspaper over a 30 year period. He was always outspoken with controversial views on modern and contemporary art.
Born on the 15 July 1931, he credited his mother with inspiring a love of art, by taking him to the National Gallery.
He was brought up in London, achieving a degree in history of art from the Courtauld Institute. His tutor was the art historian Anthony Blunt who in 1979 was exposed as “the Fourth Man” in the Burgess-Maclean spy scandal.
In the 1950s, Mr Sewell launched his career at Christie’s auction house he had a prominent circle of friends which included Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Salvador Dali. He had been suffering from cancer and had an operation to remove a tumour from his neck in 2014, which caused him to become extremely frail.
As mentioned before Brian Sewell developed his own unique brand of controversial views on modern and contemporary art.
Sewell on David Hockney
“Hockney is not another Turner expressing, in high seriousness, his debt to the old master; Hockney is not another Picasso teasing Velázquez and Delacroix with not quite enough wit; here Hockney is a vulgar prankster, trivialising not only a painting that he is incapable of understanding and could never execute, but in involving him in the various parodies, demeaning Picasso too.”
Sewell On Damien Hirst
“Were Hirst’s canvases the work of a late teenager, we might take the random lines around the skulls as a clever allusion to the measuring-points of a sculptor of Canova’s generation, or as an illusion of cracked glass, and forgive the ugly clumsiness of inexperienced execution; but Hirst is nearing his half-century and should have a far higher level of skill than this rough daubing, with which he degrades his master, Bacon.”
Sewell On Banksy
“Any fool who can put paint on canvas or turn a cardboard box into a sculpture is lauded. Banksy should have been put down at birth. It’s no good as art, drawing or painting. His work has no virtue. It’s merely the sheer scale of his impudence that has given him so much publicity.”
On Street Art, Banksy and Bristol
“The public doesn’t know good from bad. For this city to be guided by the opinion of people who don’t know anything about art is lunacy. It doesn’t matter if they [the public] like it.”
Sewell On Tracey Emin
“The sane man must ask whether he should give any of this pretentious stuff the time of day in aesthetic terms when it seems that this self-regarding exhibitionist is ignorant, inarticulate, talentless, loutish and now very rich.”
Sewell On female artists
“There has never been a first-rank woman artist. Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness. Women make up 50% or more of classes at art school. Yet they fade away in their late 20s or 30s. Maybe it’s something to do with bearing children.”