Two very different great artists– musician Bo Diddley and fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent – died this week, and tributes to both poured in, including an homage to Diddley by Atlanta band the Black Lips, whose cover of his classic song Mona was distributed for free online. Although both deaths were widely reported in the news, some commentators complained complained that Diddley’s death in particular didn’t receive the kind of media attention it deserved. Others thought that both Diddley and Saint-Laurent’s deaths were used mainly as an excuse to show footage of Mick Jagger – variously dancing to Diddley’s music or next to Bianca Jagger in her Yves Saint Laurent wedding tuxedo. One poster in the blogosphere sarcastically commented: “I wonder if they will cover the trial of Abdullah Ahmed Ali, the man accused of attempting to blow up Heathrow’s Terminal 3, by showing Mick boarding an Airbus 320? We can only hope.”
He started it
The New Statesman broke the story last week of Derek Walcott’s vitriolic
Verse attack on V S Naipaul at the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica, in which he called Naipaul a “burnt out comic, predictable, unfunny” – and worse. Naipaul has so far refused to comment on Walcott’s attack – busy as he was calling audience members at the Hay Literary Festival “ugly” – but others have been stepping into the fray on their behalf. Some have been happy merely to sit on the sidelines and enjoy the spectacle. “It’s been a while since we’ve been able to chant “Fight! Fight!” in proper dumb-ass mob style” wrote one blogger, while American pundit Christopher Lydon seemed to feel a mixture of disdain and relish at the sight of the two Nobel prize winners attacking each other “like kids in a sandbox.”
There were mixed messages regarding Tracy Emin’s upcoming curatorship of the Royal Academy’s summer show, not least from Emin herself. Although saying that she “didn’t want to be shocking” and aimed to “give the Royal Academy what is expected of me”, she also stated that she aims to be “provocative” in the new show. Is this contradictory? Not according to Rachel Campbell Johnston at the Times, who claimed that Emin’s approach has become so familiar that most will “find it hard to rouse anything much more than a weary sense of recognition”. Johnston argued that the bravest thing Emin could do at this stage in her career is learn from the “expressive” understatement of Lucien Freud and Louise Bourgeois. Still, it seems that some people, at least, are still shocked by Emin’s Royal Academy exhibition: a BBC spokesperson had to apologise on Wednesday after works hand-picked by Emin – including a painting of a woman having sex with a zebra – were screened during the lunchtime news.
Australian police have dropped an obscenity investigation into photographs by artist Bill Henson. Prominent Australian arts figures such as the actress Cate Blanchett had spoken in defence of Henson, after Prime Minister Kevid Rudd described the works as “disgusting”.
Clint Eastwood has hit back at Spike Lee’s recent criticism that Eastwood failed to include a single African-American soldier in either of his films on Iwo Jima. Eastwood replied that Lee should “shut his face” and argued that it would not be historically accurate to use black actors in the films.