Brian Sewell (1931-2015)

beautifulbrianwithdogsIt isn’t my intention to repeat the tediously familiar stories peddled by obituarists relating controversies which

Brian’s inclination to mischief and //--> provocation helped encourage. Instead I want to address two issues unconsidered elsewhere: his astonishing


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that it took me thirteen years to honour my words – thirteen! – and only /* xin-1 */ then as a result of

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an unexpected legacy. It was a relief to be able to redeem the debt not least
because, in consequence of a change in the Standard’s
ownership leading to revised employment conditions for the staff, Brian was having to do the
same work for a fraction of what he’d formerly been paid. He needed the money. But

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never once in all those years did he raise
the subject of my debt let alone ask for it to be repaid. And, of course,
he refused any interest on the grounds google_ad_slot = "7160667483"; that, as he google_ad_height = 90; wrote to me, ‘my failings are many but they do not include usury’.

Without Brian The Jackdaw would not have

survived beyond


handful of issues. I don’t think many who follow the terrain would disagree with the assessment that, of all his contemporaries
in art criticism, in art historical terms he was easily the most knowledgeable. Given his ability to speak clearly and articulately
– without artbollocks (which he always pedantically insisted


to me
should be

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properly spelt artballocks) – and because of his

reputation as an elegant and amusing essayist – google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; don’t forget he won both src="//"> the Orwell and /* 9-970x90 */ Hawthornden Prizes – he was hurt by the fact that Radio 4 never once asked

him to appear in a review role on either google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; of its main art programmes, Front Row or its predecessor Kaleidoscope. The list of waffling
no-hopers in art criticism
those programmes have employed would fill pages,
but they never asked

an influential leading critic, blah blah. If they thought this was true why google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; did they so rarely use
him? The answer is simple. The BBC’s programmes,

sewer that is State Art, about which Brian held damning views. Over the years he suggested many programmes, all rejected. google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; It
speaks volumes that the BBC asked Grayson Perry to give the
Reith Lectures, but not Brian. Of all the many independent google_ad_height = 90; voices we never hear,

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his cruel neglect in particular demonstrates that in visual art
you will be marginalised unless you toe the
establishment line.

David Lee

The Jackdaw November/December 2015