Monthly Archives: February 2012

Outsider in The Art Newspaper

Brian Sewell’s best-selling first volume of autobiography, Outsider, has been reviewed in The Art Newspaper. Here is an excerpt from the article, by Anna Somers Cocks:

‘No one could accuse him of lacking courage. In fact, he likes to live dangerously and the moment he scents a sacred cow, he lowers his head and chases at it, as I myself experienced around 1990 when campaigning to keep Canova’s Three Graces, 1814-17, from being exported to the Getty Museum in the hope that one day they might return to the temple built for them at Woburn Abbey. Did Sewell join this campaign widely supported by the great and the good? Did he hell. He wrote an article that dwelt on the lesbian nature of their embrace, their limbs “like cold chipolata sausages” and their supposedly enormous bottoms. I could not let this slander pass so I asked Malcolm Baker, then curator of sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, to climb a ladder and measure them. The message came back: “A standard British size 12 – 34, 24, 36 inches.” So there. The Evening Standard published the vital statistics, the sculpture was saved and everybody had a bit of fun. In fact, some degree of Sewell’s outrageousness, which is part of what makes him such an enjoyable critic, is a leg-pull; he only does it to annoy because he knows it teases and he finds the art world altogether too hypocritical and pompous to deserve flattery.’