Robert Hughes the Australian lion of contemporary art criticism has recently passed away at age 74. Having cheated death once in a near fatal car crash in 1999 which left him in a coma for three weeks, Hughes finally succumbed to a long bout with illness.
Hughes is best known for his Modern art book and TV series Shock of the New which was launched in the 80s. He made contemporary art more accessible to the general public stoutly defending those artists he believed to have merit and uttterly eviscerating those he believed were not up to snuff. His acerbic wit can be seen in the Guardian obituary where he descibes his education,
At Sydney University, where he went to study architecture, he was academically undistinguished. In his words: “I actually succeeded in failing first year arts, which any moderately intelligent amoeba could have passed.”
After his accident in 2003 Hughes released his definitive book on Goya, the nearly 450 page tome was also accompanied by a BBC special Goya: Crazy Like a Genius that we reviewed here.
The loss of a critic of Hughes’s stature leaves agreat void in the world of contemporary art criticsm, he will be sorely missed.