Independent's art critic Tom Lubbock dies aged 53

The Independent’s chief art critic for the last 13 years Tom Lubbock died yesterday aged 53, two years after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Lubbock continued to write until very late into his illness. In November, The Observer published an essay by Lubbock – When Words Fail Me – in which he chronicled his illness and the way it led to him losing control over speech and writing.

In December, the Victoria Miro Gallery in London held an exhibition of the weekly paper collages which Lubbock made for the Saturday edition of The Independent between 1999 and 2004.

Brian Sewell, London Evening Standard art critic, told the Independent today: “He really is amongst a very small body of English art critics – he was an outspoken and honest writer.

“He could tackle intelligently both Old Masters and contemporary art. I don’t think he cared about offending or not offending and that’s where the honesty came in.”

Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, told The Independent: “Tom Lubbock was an original thinker who could always be relied upon to come up with a fresh and independent view.

“He will be much missed as a writer who could make plain the meaning behind even the most complicated art.”

Independent writer Thomas Sutcliffe had been friends with Lubbock for 30 years.

In his tribute Sutcliffe wrote: “I will miss a great deal now that he’s gone – the brilliance and argumentative engagement of his art criticism, the startling short cuts he would sometimes show you to a new way of thinking about paintings and artists, and the fun of his conversation and his company.

“But I think I’ll most miss his ability to detect the bogus whenever it appeared – and the relish with which he would point it out.”

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