Sunday, September 20, 2015


I was sorry to hear of Brian Sewell`s passing yesterday at the age of 84 following a losing battle with cancer.   He was without doubt `interesting` but perhaps perception of him was too often limited by his rather superior, almost regal manner of speaking.  It was, however,  probably the least `interesting` aspect of a very `interesting` life.

I won`t go on about the many facets of his 84 years - others have done that in abundance - but there are a couple of things that I feel are worth mentioning here.   The first is his parentage which, it turns out, included the composer Peter Warlock as his biological father, who died before Sewell was born.  Warlock himself was `interesting` and is perhaps best remembered, by me at least, for his  beguiling Capriol Suite.

Sewell counted among his friends Anthony Blunt, Roy Strong, Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud  and he was a seriously accomplished and respected art historian and critic.   And it is in this area that he is perhaps remembered as being harshly critical, often waspish but unfailingly honest as a judge of artists and their work.  He lampooned the choice of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture in 2008;  he thought that Tracey Emin was `the Jade Goody of art;` and Banksy was ` a complete clown.`

He loved dogs and motor cars in equal measure but for me his greatest gift to the modern world was to condemn pretty much everything about modern art as pretentious tosh, not worthy of a second glance.   Maybe there was much about Brian Sewell to disagree with or to find uncomfortable, but in his rejection of modern art and `artists` he was not only spot on in his assessment but also voicing the feelings of a large section of the population, especially those provincials, like me, who want no truck with any form of metropolitan affectation.

He will be missed.

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