Outsider: Always Almost, Never Quite – Volumes I & II by Brian Sewell; Naked Emperors: Criticisms of English Contemporary Art by Brian Sewell - review by Richard Canning

Richard Canning

Art Attack

Outsider: Always Almost, Never Quite – Volumes I & II

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Quartet Books Vol I 344pp Vol II 300pp £25 each order from our bookshop

Naked Emperors: Criticisms of English Contemporary Art

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Quartet Books 368pp £15 order from our bookshop
 

Coming across octogenarian art critic Brian Sewell’s late appeal to Truth in Outsider II, his second volume of autobiography, I thought of Keats’s familiar equation of Truth with Beauty (‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’). Sure enough, a paean to Beauty soon follows, in Sewell’s reflections on the flawless skin of the young and the ‘ridiculous’ responsiveness of the elderly to the allure of youth. Truth and Beauty propel these books, and are present on every page.

Outsider – published last year to acclaim – purports to offer to the younger, insecure (male) reader at least one consolation: ‘that it is not quite the end of the world to be a bastard or queer’. Sewell not only reveals details of his highly unorthodox upbringing, but also the

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