Outsider: Always Almost, Never Quite

Brian Sewell

Outsider: Always Almost, Never Quite

Outsider is the life of a child, boy, adolescent, student and young man in London between the Great Depression of the 30s and the sudden prosperity and social changes of the 60s, affected by the moral attitudes of the day, by the Blitz, post-war austerity and the new freedoms of the later 50s that were resisted with such obstinacy by the old regime. It is about education in the almost forgotten sense of the pursuit of learning for its own sake. It is about the imposed experiences of school and National Service and the chosen experience of being a student at the Courtauld Institute under Johannes Wilde and Anthony Blunt. It is about sex, pre-pubertal, in adolescence and in early adulthood, and the price to be paid for it. It is about art and the art market in the turbulent years of its change from the pursuit of well-connected gentleman to the professional occupation of experts. 3.4 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
Outsider: Always Almost, Never Quite

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography, Art, Architecture & Photography
Format Hardback
Pages 338
RRP £25.00
Date of Publication November 2011
ISBN 978-0704372498
Publisher Quartet Books
 

Outsider is the life of a child, boy, adolescent, student and young man in London between the Great Depression of the 30s and the sudden prosperity and social changes of the 60s, affected by the moral attitudes of the day, by the Blitz, post-war austerity and the new freedoms of the later 50s that were resisted with such obstinacy by the old regime. It is about education in the almost forgotten sense of the pursuit of learning for its own sake. It is about the imposed experiences of school and National Service and the chosen experience of being a student at the Courtauld Institute under Johannes Wilde and Anthony Blunt. It is about sex, pre-pubertal, in adolescence and in early adulthood, and the price to be paid for it. It is about art and the art market in the turbulent years of its change from the pursuit of well-connected gentleman to the professional occupation of experts.

Read an extract from the book | Evening Standard

Reviews

The Independent

Ian Irvine

The second half of the book is devoted to his eight years at the auctioneer Christie's, initially recruited to bring intellectual stiffening to its catalogues. It's a gripping portrait of an institution which mixed disinterested connoisseurship with brutal venality, ambition, greed and snobbery.

02/12/2011

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The Observer

Rachel Cooke

Outsider is a delicious read … Why such disinhibition now? Sewell insists that he abandoned discretion in the hope his book will reassure young men that "it is not quite the end of the world to be... queer". But I don't buy this; my hunch is that he merely wants a reaction. However, even if my eyes hadn't popped at all the salacious details, I wouldn't say so here. I want more — much more — and he is one of those writers for whom there is no more effective spur than the thought of a reader's merrily swinging jaw.

03/12/2011

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The Sunday Times

Lynn Barber

His book ends [in 1967] so we never learn of the event that made him famous — his friend Blunt’s exposure as a spy in 1979. Sewell spoke on radio and television to defend him and the effect of his elocution was so galvanising that the cry “Who’s that?” went all round the land. The Evening Standard hired him as their art critic, and he soon became one of their best-loved columnists. Even for those who hate his disdain for contemporary art, as I do, his articles are always a compulsive read. This book records an extraordinary life and will, I hope, soon be continued.

20/11/2011

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The Spectator

Lewis Jones

... Sewell is ferocious in his settling of ancient scores, listing, rather tediously for the general reader, endless misattributions made by directors ‘who could hardly distinguish a Gainsborough from a Sawrey Gilpin’, dodgy deals, and professional and personal betrayals ... He raises the possibility of a sequel, which would certainly be welcome, though one hopes it would be better edited...

10/12/2011

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