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Naked Emperors: Criticisms of English Contemporary Art


This selection of Brian Sewell’s criticism from the London Evening Standard is his first collection to be published in nearly twenty years and has been selected from his art reviews of exhibitions by English contemporary artists. Most first appeared in the newspaper for whom he has written regularly since 1984. The reviews are gathered chronologically under artist or institution and discuss nearly every important contemporary English art exhibition for the past quarter of a century.

Besides being a record of one man’s developing response to the explosion of blockbuster contemporary art shows and multi-millionaire artist escapades of the past two decades, the reviews’ sequence also reveal how much this often maligned critic did, at first, wish the new art establishment well. How he came to see so much as dross or fiddle-faddle is written with such knowledge, style and humour, readers will also come to understand why mugs with ‘Brian Sewell is Fab!’ are still on sale in gallery gift shops.


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Dimensions 23.4 × 15.6 cm
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  1. Charles Saatchi

    Brian Sewell has been the world’s finest writer on art for the last twenty years, and his wonderful pieces in the Evening Standard each week have made an enormous contribution to creating a broader public interest in art. He inspires everybody to get involved in looking and thinking about the art itself, surely the most important role of the critic’

  2. Guardian ‘Christmas Gifts 2012: The Best Art Books’, December 2012

    ‘Brian Sewell’s Outsider II is an unembarrassed account of his rise to national recognition with his role in the Anthony Blunt affair at its centre. Naked Emperors, meanwhile, collates his reviews on contemporary British art, in which he lays about him at the expected names, from Serota to Hirst, not always as indiscriminately as is sometimes assumed’

  3. Daily Mail

    ‘The outstanding, most outspoken art critic of our time … he has raised the art of literate vituperation to new enjoyable heights. May he continue to strip pretender emperors naked’

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