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The Late, Great Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes, 1986. Source:

The great Australian art critic Robert Hughes passed away last week on August 6, aged 74. Although best known for his acerbic criticisms such as “Jeff Koons is the baby to Andy Warhol’s Rosemary,” Hughes had an eloquent appreciation for all that was fine and great as well. The Art Newspaper re-posts a dinner address given to the London Royal Academy in 2004 that proves that while Hughes pulled no punches, he also pulled no praise. Read the full speech here. The address begins:

“Many years ago, when I was still cutting my first pearly fangs as an art critic, one thing used to be taken for granted by me and practically everyone I knew in what is so optimistically termed the “art world”. That thing was that all Academies were bad, the enemies of progress—and though nobody knew how to define that slippery notion of progress in the arts, we were all in favour of it, that went without saying. What, you didn’t like progress? You and Sir Alfred Munnings, fella. And the Royal Academy excited our particular scorn…”

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