Hospital art unlikely to cure critic's ills

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The Independent Online
BRIAN SEWELL, the art critic with a talent for infuriating his opponents, was recovering last night from a 'very mild' heart attack - surrounded by the type of art he loathes.

The London Evening Standard critic was said by the Chelsea and Westminster hospital to be 'very comfortable' after reporting chest pains to his doctor. There was no word, however, on how his blood pressure reacted when he realised that the paintings and sculptures adorning the new hospital were chosen by his biggest detractor, Susan Loppert.

Ms Loppert, the hospital's arts co-ordinator, orchestrated a 35-signature letter to the Standard last January in which some of the biggest names in the British art world described Mr Sewell, 63, as 'a homophobe and misogynist' and criticised his hatred for contemporary and conceptual art.

One hospital insider said: 'We are glad that the heart attack did not kill Mr Sewell, but our biggest concern is that the art will. We have specially-commissioned banners by Patrick Heron, whom he dislikes, a 60ft sculpture by Allen Jones, whom he has criticised, work by Sandra Blow, whom he has excoriated, and by Patrick Caulfield, whom he loathes.'

Also likely to make Mr Sewell a little nauseous is a piece by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, who signed the letter against the critic along with artists and writers that included George Melly, Angela Flowers, Marina Warner and Rachel Whiteread, winner of last year's Turner Prize.

An Evening Standard spokeswoman said that journalists hoped to visit Mr Sewell tomorrow and that he was not in any danger.

A nurse on the hospital's coronary care unit - situated in its Marie Celeste Ward - said Mr Sewell was in good spirits but she would not let him receive telephone calls. One of his colleagues said: 'He said in January that the letter made him giggle. I have no doubt he is chuckling over where he is stuck now.'

Ms Loppert said: 'With all that bile and spleen he has, I am surprised the problem was not gallstones. Still, I am sure he will be cured by all that wonderful, uplifting contemporary art in our hospital. I am planning to pop in and see him. I just hope that won't give him another heart attack.'

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