Farewell to an erudite and searingly honest art critic

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The Independent Online

Figures from the art world joined friends, family and colleagues at the funeral of The Independent's art critic Tom Lubbock yesterday.

Iconoclast, wit and an erudite and searingly honest critic, Tom was also an artist in his own right, with an exhibition of his collages from The Independent drawing large crowds at a London gallery.

But it was as this newspaper's chief art critic from 1997 to his death earlier this month that he was best known and admired. His reviews, uniquely, gave an insight into the argument a critic had with himself over a work of art.

Mark Wallinger, a Turner Prize winner, gave one of the readings at his funeral at St Bride's church in Fleet Street. There were also readings from his own account of his life after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008. These writings examined in a style, both lyrical and clinical, his state of mind and body as his illness progressed.

In October 2010 he wrote: "My language works in ever decreasing circles. The whole of English richness is lost to me and I move fewer and fewer words around. I cannot count. At all. Marion and her embrace. Ground, river and sea. Eugene – his toys, his farm, his cars, his fishing game. Getting quiet. Names are going.

"Writing, there is no voice. Or, rather, writing is still there in its old form but it's gone quiet. It fluctuates and gets more difficult."

In the address at the funeral, The Independent's Tom Sutcliffe, a friend of Lubbock since university, gave insights into his style of criticism and his personality. "Tom didn't really do conversational diplomacy. That was why his company was such fun... He was so unusual as a critic in that there was no pretence... no short cuts to the final judgement."

Was there any other critic, he wondered, who would have put in print that Aboriginal art was "the most boring thing in the world"?

Sutcliffe added: "His writings were a dramatisation of what it was like to think about art... His writings never said 'look at me'. They said 'Look at these things more carefully'."

Tom Lubbock, who was buried in Highgate Cemetery, is survived by his wife Marion and three-year-old son Eugene.