Sky Arts’ weekly round-up of the week in Trafalgar Square was a classic this week.Â One of the guests in the studio was Brian Sewell.Â I have always thought he is a bit of a cock but I have changed my mind now and revised my opinion of him downwards.Sewell did say one good thing though.Â He said that the 4th plinth should remain empty as an indictment of modern society, showing that there is nobody or nothing important enough to go on there.Â In other words (and obviously this is not a parallel Sewell himself would ever come up with) it is like a concrete version of Doctor Feelgood’s “Eight bars of piano”.Â Â I agree to the extent that the emptiness of the 4th plinth is now more famous than anything that could go on it permanently, but the string of temporary exhibits on it sort of highlight that as much as emptiness could.
What a miserable, joyless old git he is though.Â He is now a parody of himself.Â Not only was he moaning about the One & Other project, but about the other temporary exhibits and the Sky Arts studio which he descibed as a shanty town.Â When Clive Anderson mentioned how plinthers could be watched online Sewell replied using the phrase “modern faddy nonsense”.
I think he was actually describing computers and the internet as modern faddy nonsense and not the transient One & Other which shows a degree of out-of-touchness that is almost admirable.Â He says he does not have a computer and I wonder how that can be true for anybody working for a newspaper.Â I had a mental picture of him knocking out his crappy art criticism columns on an old sit-up-and-beg typewriter then figured he would probably regard them as terrible modern contrivances.Â I suspect he delivers his columns handwritten with a quill pen.
It was terrific television though, with Clive Anderson only just pulling back from the temptation of openly taking the piss out of Sewell but quite happily provoking him into making ever more reactionary statements.Â I don’t quite understand how any newspaper, even one that has decided it is too bad to charge for any more, can employ an art critic with so little interest in art outside very narrow confines.Â Â I don’t think Brian Sewell approves of anything produced in the last hundred years except himself.
According to him the One & Other project is ‘fatuous and pointless’ as is the whole idea of having a revolving subject for the plinth, Antony Gormley and ‘just about everything’ in Tate Modern, while those people who have used their time to produce paintings or scultures on the plinth are just ‘daubers’.Â It seemed like an unnecessary slight.Â He also suggested that Liverpool should be towed out to sea and sunk.
It is such a good job he never had children.Â Can you imagine a 4-year-old coming home with a finger painting, eagerly awaiting the praise to accompany the mounting of the painting on the fridge only to be met with a long and impassioned list of his shortcomings as an artist?
If I get called up as a last-minute reserve I think I may have to think up some sort of conceptual art tribute to Brian Sewell.