Another tribute to Brian Sewell came as the result of an interview that ‘media mogul’ Tina Brown had with Rosamund Urwin in last Monday’s Evening Standard.
Here is the extract of what she said:
While editing Tatler she discovered by accident the Evening Standard’s art critic Brian Sewell, who died earlier this month. The magazine had run an article about Antony Blunt, the art historian and Soviet spy, and Sewell – his friend – wrote in to complain.
‘I got this postcard in spidery writing absolutely lambasting us,’ she recalls. ‘He called me everything under the sun but it was so funny, so knowledgeable about art, I said: “Why don’t we get him to be our critic?” It was like discovering Lana Turner in the chemists!’
He was, she adds, ‘A remarkable writer. So fearless.’
Brian Sewell found more fame in death than anyone else I can recall. During his lifetime, although his achievements were worthy of every superlative, his public image suffered a great deal due to his stern and waspish character that took no prisoners in his pursuit of excellence.
However, and to the amazement of all, the Establishment, which he sneered at, have come out in their droves to honour his memory, despite their being torn to smithereens by his verbal assaults as to their mediocrity and lack of real perspective on art as he saw it.
Yet his notoriety lives on, but now considered to have been a breath of fresh air in a society afraid to air its views for fear of being marginalised by the powers that be.
His legacy is rich. His books are controversial, yet extremely readable and full of outrageous anecdotes. As for his style of writing, he stands in a league of his own. Read him, and you will be enthralled and amused at the same time.
The Man Who Built the Best Car in the World is out now.