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Why Oxford was not for me


Art is my addiction
Brian Sewell Writer
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Well, art is not for 99% of the population. It really wouldn’t matter how much you gave them in terms of pegs on which to hang their own perceptions. It wouldn’t matter. But for the 1%, then it’s the thing that makes their lives worth living.

Art is… you know, what is art? Art for me is painting and drawing, sculpture, architecture. And I know I can’t live without them. I don’t have to think about it anymore, but in the days when I skied, you know, the first three days up the mountains were wonderful, and then an itch… whatever companions I was with would say, 'Oh God, you know, he wants us to go to Munich or Vienna or somewhere for the day'.

Yes, I do. And I need to look at something. I don’t care. I just need to look at something. I can’t… I can spend three days on a beach, but then I have to go and find a gallery. Which has been great fun. It just… I guess my awareness of really bad painting in really bad provincial galleries all over Europe has come entirely out of this addiction. And it is an addiction. And I… I get withdrawal symptoms if I can’t look at something. And it needn’t be good. I just have to see something.

Born in England, Brian Sewell (1931-2015) was considered to be one of Britain’s most prominent and outspoken art critics. He was educated at the Courtauld Institute of Art and subsequently became an art critic for the London Evening Standard; he received numerous awards for his work in journalism. Sewell also presented several television documentaries, including an arts travelogue called The Naked Pilgrim in 2003. He talked candidly about the prejudice he endured because of his sexuality.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Duration: 2 minutes

Date story recorded: 2008

Date story went live: 28 June 2012