Brian, who writes for the 'London Evening Standard', who is noted for artistic conservatism and his acerbic view of the Turner Prize and conceptual art and is no stranger to controversy, is 82 years old today.
What you possibly didn't know about Brian, that he :
* was born the illegitimate son of the composer Peter Warlock, who died seven months before he was born, was brought up in , Kensington, London and has said that he knew he was probably gay at the age of six, was educated at the independent Haberdasher Aske's Boy School, where. in his autobiography, states that he lost his virginity to a fellow pupil at the age of 15.
* left school and studied at the Courtauld Institute at the University of London in the 1950s where he was tutored by Anthony Blunt who had worked as a spy for Soviet Russia for 20 years and became his close friend.
* after graduating in 1957, worked at Christie's Auction House specialising in Old Master paintings and drawings., left and became an art dealer then undertook his National Service in the Royal Army Service Corps where he gained a commission.
* in 1984, became art critic for the London Evening Standard and went on to win press awards including 'Critic of the Year' in 1988, 'Arts Journalist of the Year' in 1994, the 'Hawthornden Prize for Art Criticism 'in 1995 and the 'Foreign Press Award' (Arts) in 2000 and in 2003, the 'George Orwell Prize' for his column in the Standard.
* appeared on BBC Radio and tv in the 1990s and became known for his clipped 'received pronunciation' English diction and anti-populist sentiments and courted controversy by offending people in Gateshead by claiming an exhibition was too important to be held only at the town's Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and should be shown to "more sophisticated" audiences in London and by disparaging Liverpool as a cultural city.
* in 1994, was attacked by 35 art world signatories who wrote a letter to the Evening Standard attacking him for 'homphobia', 'misogyny', 'demagogy'. 'hypocricy' , 'artistic prejudice', 'formulaic insults and predictable scurrility'' and received, in turn ,a letter of support from 20 other art world signatories who accused the writers of attempted censorship to promote 'a relentless programme of neo-conceptual art in all the main London venues'.
* in 2003, made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in a documentary called 'The Naked Pilrgim'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k96exTLtz6A followed by two more series : 'Brian Sewell's Phantoms & Shadows: 100 Years of Rolls-Royce' in 2004 and 'Brian Sewell's Grand Tour'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq9IInCfNrs visiting beautiful cities, museums, towns, churches, historic sights, meeting a local to discuss culture and art and reflected the 18th century, giving the perspective of what it would have been like as a 'Grand Tourist'.
* in his 2009 BBC documentary about the so-called' North-South Divide' in England, caused controversy by declaring that the solution to the divide was to send a pox or a plague upon the North so that the people there can all just die quietly.
* in 2010 in the tv show 'Facejacker', was satirically portrayed as a character called Brian Badonde (left), an inept art critic presenting a show called 'Voyage in to Art' with the fictional speech impediment 'Bourettes' which caused him to begin every word with a 'B', and referred to art as 'bart' and was loud, flamboyant and openly homosexual.
* is a noted aficionado of classic automobiles, a fan of stock car racing, has written extensively about cars, classic and contemporary, and in his tv series, on the pilgrimage to Santiago and the Grand Tour, drove his venerable Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC coupé.
* wrote in the 'Sunday Mail' yesterday about his plans to end his life :
- when 'the bone-rot will reach a point – not beyond endurance but beyond my willingness to endure it – when drugs prescribed to numb the pain so affect the functions of my brain that all the pleasures of music, art and books are dulled, and I merely exist.'
- would write a note addressed ‘To whom it may concern’ explaining that I am committing suicide, that I am in sound mind, that no one else has been involved and, if I am discovered before my heart has stopped, I do not want to be resuscitated.'
- would go to a bench – 'foolishly installed by the local authority on a road so heavy with traffic that no one ever sits there – make myself comfortable and down as many pills as I can with a bottle of Bombay Gin, the only spirit that I like, to send them on their way.'
- has left his body to a teaching hospital 'for the use and abuse of medical students – and my sole misgiving is that, having filled it with poisons, I may have rendered it useless'.
- believed that : 'there are those who damn the suicide for invading the prerogative of the Almighty. Many years, however, have passed since I abandoned the beliefs, observances and irrational prejudices of Christianity, and I have no moral or religious inhibitions against suicide.'