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20 October 1994
... his arrangements of those found objects within the landscapes where they were found: whether the view is mountainous or flat, these images often have a striking resemblance to compositions by Caspar David Friedrich. Working out there in nature, then, Long is a performer in the open-air theatre of the sublime. But is this aspect of his work its main distinction? There are two possible extreme ...

Bacon’s Furies

Robert Melville

2 April 1981
Interviews with Francis Bacon 1962-1979 
edited by David Sylvester.
Thames and Hudson, 176 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 500 27196 8
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... In the preface to his new edition of montaged interviews with Francis Bacon, DavidSylvester draws our attention to what has become the last section of the fifth interview. Altogether, there are seven interviews but Sylvester considers the end of the fifth to be the most illuminating passage ...

In Denbigh Road

Peter Campbell: David Sylvester

7 February 2002
... DavidSylvester, who contributed regularly to this paper, died last June. People who worked with him usually agree that he was the most engaged and patient looker at art they ever knew. Robert Rosenblum rightly says ...

Not His Type

Frank Kermode

5 September 1996
About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948-96 
by David Sylvester.
Chatto, 448 pp., £25, June 1996, 0 7011 6268 6
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... In a preliminary chapter called ‘Curriculum Vitae’ DavidSylvester explains that he became interested in art when, at 17, he was fascinated by a black and white reproduction of a Matisse. He at once began to paint in oils, but soon discovered that he lacked talent ...

This Charming Man

Frank Kermode

24 February 1994
The Collected and Recollected Marc 
Fourth Estate, 51 pp., £25, November 1993, 1 85702 164 9Show More
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... you had to know him well to get an inkling of that. More obviously he was handsome, dandyish, an upper-class socialist. He liked cricket, bridge (with, among others, the ‘Machiavellian’ DavidSylvester), chess (with Martin Amis, who felt humbly as if he always had, or anyway always ought to have, the black pieces). Women found him instantly attractive. And he rode a motor bike. The illustrations ...

Get out

Julian Bell: Francis Bacon

19 October 2000
Looking back at Francis Bacon 
by David Sylvester.
Thames and Hudson, 272 pp., £29.95, June 2000, 0 500 01994 0
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... other broadened like a Hallowe’en pumpkin. Two lordly sensibilities, the heterosexual critic and the homosexual artist, had converged to discuss painting and the human condition. The thought that DavidSylvester and Francis Bacon were caught up in this dialogue seemed at once daunting and salutary to some of us then learning to paint in the same town. Their Interviews – first published in 1975 ...

On the Edge

David Sylvester

27 April 2000
A New Thing Breathing: Recent Work 
by Tony Cragg.
Tate Gallery Liverpool
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... The debate went on for most of the 20th century: was its greatest artist Matisse or Picasso? This was perhaps the only century of the millennium in which the championship was a two-horse race – and a very close race, so that there may never be a consensus lasting more than fifty years as to which of them was the winner. Nevertheless, there is a clear distinction in their greatness, one relating purely ...

Something to look at

David Sylvester

10 March 1994
... Great art collections formed by individuals are generally highly specialised – French Impressionist paintings, English sporting pictures, early Chinese bronzes – or somewhat specialised – Classical antiquities, Old Master drawings, Islamic art. What is special about George Ortiz’s collection of antiquities and ethnographic art, part of which is currently on show at the Royal Academy, is its ...

Italy’s New Art

David Sylvester

30 March 1989
... The Italians have the same sort of problem over making art as we have over playing football. After ages of doing it far better than anyone else, they had to come to accept that quite a lot of foreigners were doing it better – with the difference that our football has been in that situation for about thirty-five years, Italian art for about three hundred and fifty. However, the time of its supremacy ...

Late Picasso at the Tate

David Sylvester

1 September 1988
... the painterliness was at its maximum in the latter series – above all, in the large grisaille which can be seen as a sort of compressed version of Guernica – whose dual models in Poussin and David are not painterly in style. Having gone further here than ever before into the post-Renaissance tradition, Picasso soon turned his back on it to work, more characteristically, in a pre-Giottesque ...

Mayhem at Millbank

David Sylvester: The new hang at the Tate Britain (2000)

18 May 2000
... but rather to make the works look good. The new installation, though, isn’t meant to put the components at their ease; it’s argumentative. Here and there the argument is illuminating, as when David Bomberg’s In the Hold (c.1913-14) is hung next to Leon Kossoff’s Children’s Swimming Pool, Autumn Afternoon (1971). Both are busy compositions, with a mass of vigorous figures squeezed closely ...

Hanging Offence

David Sylvester

21 October 1993
... every other exponent of post-de Chirico Surrealism suppresses a key part of the story. The exclusion of Josef Albers shows bias. The exclusion of Mark di Suvero means the omission of the one artist (David Smith is something else) who has created a sculptural equivalent of Abstract Expressionism, the movement which forms the nucleus of the exhibition. The exclusion of Chuck Close, accompanied by the ...

Constable’s Weather

David Sylvester

29 August 1991
... Perhaps our weather is the main ingredient in our education as well as in our conversation. Could it not be that the origin of the Englishman’s phlegm is a childhood of last-minute cancellations through rain of long-awaited treats, inuring him for ever to disappointment? In any event the great English painters of weather did not have to submit to the weather’s domination. They recorded it with ...

Notes on Cézanne

David Sylvester

7 March 1996
... Refaire Poussin sur nature’. Why did Cézanne single out Poussin when Rubens was his hero – his avowed and his manifest hero? One thing that Cézanne and Poussin have in common is that they seem unable to make an image that isn’t imbued with gravity. Another is that everything in the picture seems to be in a place ordained for it. But not through a similar process. Poussin is a master manipulator ...

Giacometti and Bacon

David Sylvester

19 March 1987
Giacometti: A Biography 
by James Lord.
Faber, 592 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 571 13138 7
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... Giacometti’s widow, says the preface, has chosen ‘to prevent the appearance in her husband’s biography of any unpublished writings by him of whatever sort: letters, journals or random notations’. Another recent biography of a leading modern artist was composed under similar restrictions. Peter Ackroyd says he was ‘forbidden by the Eliot estate to quote from Eliot’s published work, except ...

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