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Ways of seeing

Arriving in London as a young man, Robert Hughes embraced 1960s excess. But it was his repressive Jesuit upbringing that made him the critic he is

By Rachel Cooke   December 2006

Things I Didn’t Know by Robert Hughes (Harvill Secker, £25)

Robert Hughes’s memoir, an account of the years before he went to the US to be the art critic of Time, is a magisterial feat of inquiry, verve and style. In the age of the blog, everyone is a critic and all opinions are equally valid. Hughes disdains this noisy hum: “I prefer the good to the bad, the articulate to the mumbling, the aesthetically developed to the merely primitive.” This robust attitude has never seemed more necessary.

Perhaps this is why his opening chapter, in which he describes the…

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