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Craft/Work

Power & Pain, Love & Madness: Brett Anderson Curates The Collections of Art UK
The Quietus , May 16th, 2020 09:06

The Suede frontman curates a selection of ten paintings from the UK's public collections, in a virtual exhibition prepared exclusively for the Quietus

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Hans Holbein – The Ambassadors
There are so many more subtle and graceful Holbiens but I chose arguably his most famous work because it’s nevertheless the most intriguing. He was the supreme portraitist of the Tudor Court and his artistry is still today both astonishing and incredibly sophisticated. I’m always fascinated looking at his representation of the human face, gazing into those long dead eyes and reading the expressions of people from another age, their faces just as real as those you would jostle past walking along Tottenham Court Road today. This painting is one that’s laden with symbolism, the puffed up ambassadors standing proudly in a jumble of trinkets strategically chosen to suggest wealth, power and scientific acumen. But the twists are of course the memento mori and specifically the stretched, distorted skull in the foreground, bold and strange and utterly shocking still. It never fails to thrill me both with its visceral menace but also when I remind myself that it predates Surrealism by nearly 400 years.


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