Cy Twombly

This year saw profound losses to the world of art. Richard Hamilton, Cy Twombly and Lucian Freud all died. They won’t make any more work. Their creativity belongs to the past now. We can’t bask in being their contemporaries.

On the other hand, their deaths came at the end of long and acclaimed lives. The Egyptian artist, Ahmed Basiony, was shot dead by security forces in Cairo in the early days of the Arab spring this January. He was born in 1978.

All these deaths were widely mourned, from the pavilion dedicated to Basiony at the Venice Biennale to the many memories of Freud that rushed into print. But how honest and how useful are these cults of the artistic dead?

It seems that every week, a major figure in the arts is mourned by the media – this week it is Ken Russell. Sometimes it seems the obituary pages are taking over the arts pages. It has become a media ritual, this black-veiled lamentation of the passing of creative figures – and it is not a healthy way to celebrate them.


Jonathan Jones