Letter: Beckett's eye

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The Independent Online
Tim Hilton's attack on "illustrious literary people" in his review of the Giacometti exhibition is outrageous ("The riddle of the thin man", Review, 13 October). It suggests that only professional artists or professional art critics are sufficiently well-informed to make a judgement.

The assertion that Beckett "had only a shaky sense of visual art" is simply wrong, as reference to James Knowlson's recently published biography makes plain. In addition to his well-known support for artists who were personal friends - Bram and Geer Van Velde, Henri Hayden and Avigdor Arikha are the best known - Beckett was a connoisseur and collector. Recently discovered German notebooks show that Beckett studied art assiduously during the Thirties as well as visiting major collections in London, Paris and the German cities. He kept up a lifelong correspondence with Tom McGreevy who became the director of the National Gallery in Dublin - much of it concerned with painting and with his original insights into the old masters as well as the moderns. Beckett even applied for a post as assistant curator at the National Gallery in London.

If he had only a shaky sense of visual art there is no help for the rest of us.

Sean Lawlor

London N16

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