Outsider: Always Almost: Never Quite: Brian Sewell

★★★★

Brian Sewell is now best known for being the art critic of the Evening Standard: ferociously knowledgeable, scrupulously precise and utterly intolerant of pretension. His exhibition reviews are the only ones I trust completely, and I should have read this first volume of his memoirs long before now; but I mistakenly assumed that it would be like the other art-world memoirs I’ve read. Those were dull, lifeless books, little more than a chance for the author to boast of his distinguished friends, settle scores with old enemies and rattle off a list of the famous paintings that he’s sold. I should have known better; and in any case, several people have recently urged me to read it – some struck by the elegance of the writing and others by Sewell’s brutal frankness.

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