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At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: Painting the Century

16 November 2000
... what you are, people who are interested in you will be made more interested by the painting. Other pictures here are more like reportage: Richard Hamilton’s worked up photograph of Mick Jagger and RobertFraser (1968), handcuffed and covering their faces after being arrested for possessing drugs, derives from a news picture. But it was also personal – Fraser was Hamilton’s dealer at the time and ...
30 March 2000
Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert​ Fraser 
by Harriet Vyner.
Faber, 317 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 571 19627 6
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... to have been even shadier than they were, they may well be immortalised as builders of temples of high culture. An authorised biography has now appeared of an English dealer of recent memory, RobertFraser, 1937-86. His chequered career, terminated by Aids, lasted as long as it did only because of subsidies from his parents and getting away with not paying his debts, while the world at large remembers ...

O Wyoming Whipporwill

Claire Harman: George Barker

3 October 2002
The Chameleon Poet: A Life of George Barker 
by Robert Fraser.
Cape, 573 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 224 06242 5
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... from public esteem long before his death in 1991 begs the question whether he was any good in the first place. It is one of the few questions not addressed by Barker’s acolyte and devotee RobertFraser in this over-long, over-respectful first biography. Fraser starts from the premise that Barker is self-evidently a major writer: ‘George Barker was a poet of outstanding gifts, an enchanter of ...

At Inverleith House

Hal Foster: Richard Hamilton

14 August 2008
... them to his own ends. Richard Hamilton, ‘Hugh Gaitskell as a Monster in Filmland’ (1964) The first stop is a scandal in Swinging London. In February 1967 police arrested Mick Jagger and RobertFraser (a prominent art dealer) for drug possession. Based on a press photograph of Jagger and Fraser in a police van, Swingeing London 67 (1968-69) is blurred, its colours lurid. The two celebrities ...

Charging about in Brogues

Jenny Turner: Sarah Waters

23 February 2006
The Night Watch 
by Sarah Waters.
Virago, 472 pp., £16.99, February 2006, 1 84408 246 6
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... t believe him, but puts her hand inside his trousers to keep him happy all the same. Viv’s brother, the delicate, ‘fey-looking’ Duncan, has a weird job in a candle factory: his old friend RobertFraser can’t believe it when he finds him there, working in what is essentially sheltered employment for people too damaged to do anything else. Plus, Duncan has moved in with an elderly man he ...
26 July 1990
The Making of ‘The Golden Bough’: The Origin and Growth of an Argument 
by Robert Fraser.
Macmillan, 240 pp., £35, July 1990, 0 333 49631 0
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... whose weird and eccentric habits could have provided columns of copy for a journalist in search of an easy story. But it was Frazer who found his way onto the pages of the popular press. Why? RobertFraser (no relation, different spelling) has not set out directly to answer that question, but his book does serve to highlight the problems of Frazer’s success. The Making of ‘The Golden Bough ...

At the Hayward

Hal Foster: ‘The Painting of Modern Life’

1 November 2007
... of photographic effects translated into painting in this initial moment: Hamilton capturing the tabloid glare of celebrity visibility in a lurid image of Mick Jagger handcuffed to the art dealer RobertFraser after a drugs bust; Warhol eliciting shock cut with indifference with a newswire photo of a car crash silk-screened 11 times across a rust-orange canvas; Richter producing an empathic response ...
6 October 2011
... looking). In this regard we might compare My Marilyn with the other great Hamilton essay on the problematic glare of celebrity, Swingeing London 67 (1968), his lurid painting of Mick Jagger and RobertFraser (an art dealer of the time) manacled together in a police van after a drug bust. We tend to see Pop artists as utterly seduced by images of personages and products, complicit with the amnesia ...

Skinned alive

John Bayley

25 June 1987
Collected Poems 
by George Barker, edited by Robert Fraser.
Faber, 838 pp., £27.50, May 1987, 0 571 13972 8
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By Grand Central Station I sat down and wept 
by Elizabeth Smart, introduced by Brigid Brophy.
Grafton, 126 pp., £2.50, July 1987, 0 586 02083 7
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... Amusing, and perhaps instructive, to think of great paintings whose voyage into mystery and meaning seems to depend, in the first instance, on a technical trick: a separation of planes so that the head of the principal figure lives in a different world from that of the body, and the rest of the picture. Rembrandt’s ‘Polish Rider’ travels serenely on a pantomime horse, deftly accoutred with his ...
3 July 1997
The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 347 pp., £20, August 1996, 9780297813484
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... disabilities, and was now, they thought, about to put the Elizabethan code against them back into force. One of the Catholics, a rich gentleman from the Midlands and charismatic energumen called Robert Catesby, called a meeting on 20 May at the Duck and Drake, off the Strand, the lodgings of his cousin and the disciple, Thomas Wintour. Three other men were invited: Jack Wright, a swordsman friend ...
6 October 1983
... Australian Right’s favourite man of the Left – if he really was of the Left. His accession to power did not cause any capitalists to leap out of windows. The previous government, led by Malcom Fraser, had been showing distinct signs of loss of grip. Ability is not as common a trait as it might be in Australian politics, and kicking the other fellow’s head in for the sheer pleasure of it is the ...

Every inch a king

Antonia Fraser

16 October 1980
Great Harry 
by Carolly Erickson.
Dent, 428 pp., £8.50, July 1980, 0 460 04366 8
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... king who created it remains unexamined and therefore lifeless. At times I was reminded by Dr Erickson’s style of such modern studies of royalty as Anthony Holden’s life of the Prince of Wales and Robert Lacey’s study of the present Queen, Majesty. The point about these books is that they are rather jolly. They may not tell you anything earth-shaking that you did not know before, since their main ...
17 March 1988
1968: A Student Generation in Revolt 
by Ronald Fraser.
Chatto, 370 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 7011 2913 1
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Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties 
by Tariq Ali.
Collins, 280 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 9780002177795
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Sixty-Eight: The Year of the Barricades 
by David Caute.
Hamish Hamilton, 464 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 241 12174 4
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Nineteen Sixty-Eight: A Personal Report 
by Hans Koning.
Unwin Hyman, 196 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 9780044401858
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... Black Dwarf, a magazine I intended to promote socialist ideas for working-class readers. It was welcomed, however, by a quite different readership – the ‘student generation in revolt’ of Ronald Fraser’s title – and I was made to surrender my editorship to Tariq Ali. Before my dismissal, I appeared on television to defend the paper against A.J. Ayer, John Gross and Colin Welch – with a ...

Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert​ Baird: Denise Levertov

24 September 2014
Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life 
by Dana Greene.
Illinois, 328 pp., £22.99, October 2012, 978 0 252 03710 8
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A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov 
by Donna Krolik Hollenberg.
California, 515 pp., £30.95, April 2013, 978 0 520 27246 0
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Collected Poems 
by Denise Levertov.
New Directions, 1063 pp., £32.99, December 2013, 978 0 8112 2173 3
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... the same year she published her first poem, in Poetry Quarterly. The magazine steered her into the ambit of the Apocalypse poets, the neo-Romantic Surrealists who had decided, in the words of G.S. Fraser, ‘to become stoics – to depend on ourselves and the universe’ after everything else was destroyed by the war. Dana Greene isn’t wrong when she says that Levertov’s early poems possess more ...

Going Native

A.N. Wilson: Theroux’s portait of Naipaul

13 May 1999
Sir Vidia’s Shadow: A Friendship across Five Continents 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 376 pp., £17.99, December 1998, 0 241 14046 3
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... secured by Naipaul – on hobnobbing terms with the sort of people who give (or gave) dinner parties. He seems touchingly, but crudely, pleased, to have clocked up Hugh Thomas, Hugh and Antonia Fraser, as well as some Soho poets, in his first week. And of course, he has managed to bed one of our girls before Christmas. He is never more whining than in his suggestion – which rises to a crescendo ...

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