Category Archives: credit crunch

R.A.Summer Show decomposes….

I have just had the good fortune/misfortune to catch the Culture Show take on The R.A. Summer Show. Up to now I have been unmoved by the Summer Show. I have never submitted. I have been once and it seems pretty similar every year. Sadly instead of being happy with being the the festival of British ordinariness beloved by Telegraph and Daily Mail readers this year in keeping with its new found edge….Perry, Landy and Hume are Ra’ers we have a special room of Michael Craig Martin’s ‘Fate’ and accompanied by his ex students…a kind of flatulent Reynolds and his school for the digital age. It is a triumph, on screen viewing, of corporate, pseudo pop-art a la Goldsmiths silliness. This is the triumph of the mediocre. Nothing I could see in the room (apart from Cornelia Parker) was either a good example of the artist’s oeuvre and in some cases was indeed , and let us not mince words, shite……arrogant, tedious shite.

It is meant to be a snapshot of the Great in Britart and it doesn’t even get past dull. The brightest thing in the room appeared to be Emin’s risible neon scrawl. There was a compulsory Deacon, Kapoor and Wilding to fill floor space and the walls…oh dear….oh fucking dear…… and I don’t mean bright intellectually.

Because this is all set up to boost not only Craig-Martin’s unassailability as art-guru to the nation but also his lifelong project to foist undemanding crap on us from Goldsmiths we are supposed to buy into it. I do not and I do not on a scale that is off the dial. One conceptual acorn in a bottle and we get years of bad computer assisted pop art that makes this particular critic yearn for an end to the sixties in the sixties. I suffered a few of his computer aided works in the eighties and thought they tedious machine made Caulfields then..they haven’t got better just brasher and more pretentious..FATE..yes folks that’s a heavy word. WOW factor ten.

This is the fag end of the real non-new media art world….it has not moved on since the Chelsea Arts Club heyday and getting pissed at the Groucho Club. Terminally in aesthetic arrears we are supposed to take seriously possibly another ‘work’ that the worst piece of Barnum Hokum disguised as art yet. Landy’s Cezanne copy is so bereft of talent, ideas and surely only survives as a pisstake..or is this serious…Feels to me like Fawlty Towers of the artworld? Or is this a postmodern joke on all of us..I am not laughing.

So this is what we poor underlings out in the shires have to aspire to….fucks sake I seen better art here in nottingham and consitently good art not this lazy, arrogant beached whale art we see here. I suppose my R.A. membership will be on hold now – not that I ever took it that seriously. A corporate whore flogging a mass democratic show that is nothing of the sort is a smokescreen for an intelligentsia in the artworld that long lost artistic credibility and rigour.

The best art in Britain is now isolated, ignored and all but extinguished by the new ‘economic reality’ but it still has a pulse….this show, especially the Martin room is just the worms of industry feeding on the beached whale corpse of Britart. It time to rest the compass and explore other territory for this will pretty soon smell as rank as it looks….

Oh but come now Belcher you cannot be serious these people are worthy of our adulation…….our respect and rightly so….

No in a word they are not…individuals can hold their head high..Hockney continues to surprise and extend..he has not grown lazy…..
Wilding probably deserved the prize but has also waited too long for it….Parker should have won it. Alastair Sooke showed a keen intelligence and I felt came as close as he dared to dismissing the whole sad farrago…i.e. as far as Telegraph readers and BBC editors would let him. His mother could actually paint too…

The only surprise there no shite Hirst …but then again Koons will always do when one wants something effortless, meaningless and covered in money…….bit like The Royal Academy itself.

Who would have thought that Goldsmiths and the R.A. were made for each other but then so were moneylenders and temples…

p.s. the image above is a stock Telegraph image which attempting to sell the image of the show as young and vibrant…bit like the Telegraph readership then or old Martin himself:-) Thank god Fate takes us all some day I couldn’t stand another twenty years of this….

Craft V Concept 2: In conversation with Wayne Burrows and Jezz Noond

SDB
The Goldsmiths show was too painful to watch all way through – did any of them show a high level of thinking and making? I doubt it….a bad idea (e.g.rainbow jumpers) however well made remains a bad idea but a genius concept badly executed is equally dodgy…a certain shark and tank come to mind….( only that wasn’t genius just advertising).

WB

The thing that gets forgotten (on both sides) is that an idea, a concept, is itself something that requires a high level of craft to produce: look at the elegance in the work of Duchamp, Joseph Kosuth or Sarah Lucas, for example, or the craft that goes into something like Spiral Jetty. An idea is something that needs to be *made* in exactly the same way a pot or painting is.

SDB

Indeed there is internal ‘elegance’ just as there is in say a beautiful theorem..or passage of music..however the point I trying to make is that in my opinion it is ‘honed’ through contact with its formal ‘construction’…the elegance of the Duchamp (apart from readymades?), Lucas and Smithson occurs in its creation? Ideas free of these constraints… See more are swimming around us in the artworld these days and the constraint has gone….thus inelegant and in some cases just poor and flabby….my thesis is it is the contest between thought and form that creates beauty..back to aesthetics…away from pure immature philosophising…

how many ‘great ideas’ badly made have we seen lately….how many bad ideas well made probably even less :-(

Jez Noond

Spiral jetty is an elegant ‘concept’ and ‘thing’, but its construction will have been necessarily brutal.I think Cragg’s work kinda gets the balance right too.

SDB

will check but I was thinking there must have been quite a few drawings or blueprints? Then a lot of bulldozers you are right..see here http://www.robertsmithson.com/drawings/spiral_jetty_300.htm

JN

oh yeah – but the bulldozers are part of the elegant conception of the piece – the elegant thinking…
The relationship between Oldenburg’s maquettes, drawings, notes and final large pieces is interesting. Although, I think most of his final big pieces are failures. Batcolumn is about the best. With him, I think its all in the drawing anyway.
I have a tiny book of his drawings (Notes in Hand, 1971) – theres a page in there I’ve looking at for over … See more30 years (jesus!) – his design for the NYPD uniform – its basically a clowns outfit…heres a link to another page:
http://www.nqpaofu.com/2002imgs/oldenburg-notes2-386.jpg

WB

Maybe I think of it from the perspective of a writer, ie: the concept and the medium of language are materials in themselves, and shaping them into ideas is craft as much as hammering bronze or manipulating paint on canvas is. Hence an idea has form, shape and craft. I’d say Duchamp, Kosuth and Lucas all do this in the making as well as conception… See more… in Lucas, the way a thing is made supports the idea behind it perfectly, in Duchamp the level of craft in Etants Donee or Female Fig leaf is very high indeed. Where would you place folk arts or unconventional painters like Lowry or Dounier Rousseau? Does the failing in correct perspective and technique undermine the work, or become the source of its appeal? Where do you place someone like Tapies – amazing craftsmanship at the service of an illusion of complete informality…same thing with a fine painter using automatist methods, or a current trompe l’oeil artist like Susan Collis.

SDB

I’d class any naive artist as having intuitive craftsmanship…I wouldn’t use ‘failing’ to describe their art more a pre rennaisance sense of space.

Collis is a very interesting example though as she is using conventional notions of ‘craft’ to create objects that deny that craftmanship but surely the beauty there is in their actual precision despite their nondescript illusionism?

To me it similar to the exquisite beauty of the Blashka natural history exhibits which more than just illustrations but to me are art in their own right…….

http://www.ucd.ie/blaschka/dublin_coll.htm

WB

In that sense, then, the idea of craft as it’s usually defined (in a rather limited way) is as flexible as that of the ideas themselves…I agree on the Blashka glass pieces, scientific models, and art, at the same time. But what if I then took a ‘non-art’ object like a Blashka model (or an x-ray, or NASA mapping of the surface of Venus) and represented is as art, in some other context: does that nullify the craft of the object being shown? An example of someone who does this beautifully is Cornelia Parker – her craft is often in the matching of techniques to ideas and concepts (often philosophical or poetic rather than formal), and much lies in the way she frames and presents the objects she finds. This to me is where the idea that there’s an inherent distinction between craft and conceptualism comes apart – there are just good and bad examples of art using both (or neither), but rarely only one or the other.

SDB

I saw the silver pans piece by Parker at Tate and I’d say she fits neatly into the Cragg assemblage process methodology. i.e. she is using common implements, objects but assembles in a precise and ‘crafted’ way. I’d compare that with Mr Hirst’s really rather boring and aesthetically dull medicine cabinet where placement is immaterial…..might as well visit Boots…

Also Hirst’s ‘spun’ paintings show little craft as any fool ( and he employed people to be his fool) could and did do it….ditto Warhol….is he a craftsman?

He certainly came from a craft/design background which shows in what he ‘allowed’ others to print for him. There a degree of afore-thought there which some neo-conceptualists heaping there retro objects together haphazardly sadly lack…

Warhol is the defining moment for me in this debate. He instigated the Fordism model as he came from an advertising background. Look at a Ruscha, Dine, Johns etc and you still in fine art and craft tradition …after Warhol it’s hell in a handcart for that tradition despite people like Hoyland, Stella and Smithson et al hanging on for dear life.

p.s. Tapies……I visited his foundation in Barcelona and there not a drip or molecule of sand that isn’t crafted in that work. Like Bacon’s ‘accidents’ every slippage is selected/ processed and thought through…..hence its calm beauty.

My problem is with works that assemble, display with a complete disregard to these ‘aesthetics’ and I could name a lot of ‘contemporary’ work that slips into this category especially amongst the college leaver crowd and my contention is that to undo somethign one first has to understand how it can be done.

I saw the silver pans piece by Parker at Tate and I’d say she fits neatly into the Cragg assemblage process methodology. i.e. she is using common implements, objects but assembles in a precise and ‘crafted’ way. I’d compare that with Mr Hirst’s really rather boring and aesthetically dull medicine cabinet where placement is immaterial…..might as well visit Boots…

Also Hirst’s ‘spun’ paintings show little craft as any fool ( and he employed people to be his fool) could and did do it….ditto Warhol….is he a craftsman?

He certainly came from a craft/design background which shows in what he ‘allowed’ others to print for him. There a degree of afore-thought there which some neo-conceptualists heaping there retro objects together haphazardly sadly lack…. See more

Warhol is the defining moment for me in this debate. He instigated the Fordism model as he came from an advertising background. Look at a Ruscha, Dine, Johns etc and you still in fine art and craft tradition …after Warhol it’s hell in a handcart for that tradition despite people like Hoyland, Stella and Smithson et al hanging on for dear life.

p.s. Tapies……I visited his foundation in Barcelona and there not a drip or molecule of sand that isn’t crafted in that work. Like Bacon’s ‘accidents’ every slippage is selected/ processed and thought through…..hence its calm beauty.

My problem is with works that assemble, display with a complete disregard to these ‘aesthetics’ and I could name a lot of ‘contemporary’ work that slips into this category especially amongst the college leaver crowd and my contention is that to undo something one first has to understand how it can be done.

I saw the silver pans piece by Parker at Tate and I’d say she fits neatly into the Cragg assemblage process methodology. i.e. she is using common implements, objects but assembles in a precise and ‘crafted’ way. I’d compare that with Mr Hirst’s really rather boring and aesthetically dull medicine cabinet where placement is immaterial…..might as well visit Boots…

Also Hirst’s ‘spun’ paintings show little craft as any fool ( and he employed people to be his fool) could and did do it….ditto Warhol….is he a craftsman?

He certainly came from a craft/design background which shows in what he ‘allowed’ others to print for him. There a degree of afore-thought there which some neo-conceptualists heaping there retro objects together haphazardly sadly lack…. See more

Warhol is the defining moment for me in this debate. He instigated the Fordism model as he came from an advertising background. Look at a Ruscha, Dine, Johns etc and you still in fine art and craft tradition …after Warhol it’s hell in a handcart for that tradition despite people like Hoyland, Stella and Smithson et al hanging on for dear life.

p.s. Tapies……I visited his foundation in Barcelona and there not a drip or molecule of sand that isn’t crafted in that work. Like Bacon’s ‘accidents’ every slippage is selected/ processed and thought through…..hence its calm beauty.

My problem is with works that assemble, display with a complete disregard to these ‘aesthetics’ and I could name a lot of ‘contemporary’ work that slips into this category especially amongst the college leaver crowd and my contention is that to undo somethign one first has to understand how it can be done.

e.g. Picasso and Braque….

WB

Would tend to agree about the Warhol line, not because it’s ‘conceptual’ instead of ‘crafted’ (there is craft in the silkscreen process, just not Warhol’s own, by and large – and his 1950s illustration and advertising work is beautifully made in a very traditional sense) but because the concepts are usually fairly thin, and the work itself rather ‘… See moreflat’, with no great physical presence (I’d except his early – late 60s films from this, to some extent, as these are genuinely original as films – not necessarily as ‘art’ – and more philosophically interesting than his paintings – Kitchen, Chelsea Girls, the Screen Tests etc). Similar feelings about Hirst – the craft is there, but he buys it in, and the finished works are hit and miss – in any room of 25 or 30 Hirsts, there’ll be 3 or 4 really good pieces, enough that you can’t completely dismiss him, not enough to suggest consistency or even a single ruling concept, of the kind you find in Warhol. Don’t agree that Warhol destroys that tradition of crafted making, though – whether you like their work or not, during the Britart years, for every Hirst there was a Glenn Brown or Jenny Saville, and for every bad conceptual, video and installation based work, there are others that are more interesting and much stronger – yes, not sure about some of the more obviously Warhol-influenced types who’ve been around, and the Pop Life show of post-Warhol stuff at Tate Modern demonstrated the weakness of much in that line – but draw up another list of concept-led artists like Jeremy Deller, Roger Hiorns, Anya Gallaccio, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Annette Messager, Susan Hiller, John Newling, David Hammons and even some of the better (Archimbolodo-influenced) work by Noble & Webster and you’ll find a lot more craft in both the ideas and the making than I think the simple distinction of ‘conceptual’ and ‘crafted’ tries to suggest. But crucially, maybe, it’s the work coming from the poetic and surrealist lines of descent within modernism, or those with strong links to full-strength philosophical investigation, that do this most consistently…
Wayne Burrows is editor of STAPLE magazine and a poet

http://www.staplemagazine.co.uk/

http://wayneburrows.wordpress.com

Jezz Noond is a short short story writer currently on a creative writing course at Nottingham University he plays a mean bull fiddle

Beyond the crisis in art – making and doing…

I have long been a fan of the Sharkforum and resident artist/critic Mark Staff Brandl’s take on the present state of art criticism.

This is by way of a practice run to ‘scope’ the afore mentioned ‘art criticism now?’ agenda :-)
I love that word ‘scope’ you’d think we were shooting bears..maybe we are…certainly foxes…

His latest project involves asking artists to write about their practice and its theoretical basis as a challenge to the current curatorial/academic mish mash that sometimes pertains in the IAW (international art world). He (I think correctly) cites the current fashion orientated dealer driven art world as suffering from a ‘glossies’ approach that has jettisoned the baby with the bathwater and quite correctly identifies a gap ‘in the market’ (how loaded that phrase has become in the past 30 years) where artist’s voices have become swamped in other louder discourses. Usually these discourses are tied hand and foot to financial and kudos driven ‘standing’ in that same ‘IAW’ and have long since lost any real veracity or in some cases coherance as theoretical writings let alone curatorial statements or overviews.

We here in Nottingham have some recent first-hand instances of this I.A.W. Gobbledygook thanks to our sudden emergence into the IAW thanks to Nottingham Contemporary. As our provincial minds sink in the flood of propaganda we are about to be verbally lashed by maybe it a good point for some circumspect analysis of this phenomena.

My own artistic history is pretty much framed in two decades. Firstly 1980-1990 then 2000-2010.

Phase 1: I graduated from Hornsey college of Art London (Middlesex University as is now) in 1981 and my art history tutor there was John A. Walker who has written extensively about the specifically political dimension to celebrity art as well as popular cultural connections ( Art in the Age of Mass Media 2001). At this time there was little separation between ‘art’ and ‘theory’. Indeed it was common practice to read and absorb not only general theory but specific artist’s statements. Magazines like Artscribe and Art Monthly put artist statements centre stage and along with a varied ‘contextual’ studies area which ranged from contemporary poetry to applied design we were encouraged not only to think for ourselves but also to be as wide in our reading as possible. In those days notions of ‘networking’ and ‘careerist’ ‘making it’ were viewed from a heavily left-wing viewpoint ( Hornsey had been a scene of ‘Riots’ alongside actions in France in 1968 ) so much so that I do not think the words were ever used.

We were serious (maybe too serious) students with serious ambitions to create serious artworks. There was little hope of making money except in maybe the long term and we set ourselves for many years of cold, lonely debate and artmaking activity in usually sub standard freezing cold ‘studios’. We did have a sense of community and a shared sense of what the ‘art world’ was and what was ‘significant’. What was written about in Artscribe framed the debate and our sense of the ‘art world’. There were few curatorial driven exhibitions to see and a hang of Bacon or Auerbach at Marlborough would be the highpoint of a summer. Serious artists shown seriously with little theoretical framing except in large Thames and Hudson or Phaidon tomes or reviews in the ‘serious’ press. Waldemar Janusczack, James Faure Walker, Sarah Kent, Brian Sewell, Mathew Collings…the names of those critics I remember 20 years later such was there standing….Artcribe had a ‘local’ i.e. usually London focus.

The art world then may have been smaller (pre boom and bust and the internet) but one felt one could get a handle of the major developments and the significant figures as they emerged. I remember seeing early shows by Doig and Julian Opie. Indeed I even ended up as a figure in a Gilbert and George photo piece. This was pre Goldsmiths, Hirst and the collapse (in my opinion) of those values and the boom in a larger, more fashionable, successful and in my opinion shallower art world. That art world was fed, watered and bloomed under the hands of an advertising executive and there was indeed a cut off point. The change in attitudes can be dated to the Royal Academy Sensation show…soon Stuart Morgan tried to sail artscribe into ‘International Art World’ waters and promptly sank….he just didn’t understand the Prada Bag set…

There and ever after even the hard leftists in the artworld found themselves chasing a beguiling gravy train and penned many acres of explication to justify having sold out out to a capitalist driven art world on a scale hitherto unimagined. Craig-Martin at Goldsmiths and principles of newly business orientated Academies across the country raced to catch up and cash in. This also coincided with a boom in markets across Europe and the USA and suddenly Brit was HIP. Nobody could bare to criticise a position we so fully deserved…now we were art top dogs we could look down on others and crow….and of course objective criticism.hard criticism..was thrown out the window.

I remember attending a show in the mid 1980′s where the curatorial statement ran to over a thousand words and was written in such impermeable ‘academese’ that nobody could actually read it. I dismissed it but foolishly did not realise the power of the word was on the march…..

Soon fellow artists were ‘locating their practice’ and referencing Derrida and Foucault. Indeed one friend went from rather dull printmaker to being an expert on postmodernism in a matter of weeks. The honesty and integrity of magazines like Artscribe and Art Monthly were suddenly outshone by their glossy step-children …Frieze, Flash etc etc and countless others that spawned and drowned in their own scenes. This also coincided with the first attempts to push M.A.’s and Phd’s for artists…..up until that point M.A.’s were few and far between and centred on the ‘top’ institutions The Slade, Chelsea and Royal College. More importantly these were heavily studio-based courses…long on practice short on theory….evn in the late 1980′s one could still just paint at the Royal College like David Hockney……just….

I still have some of the copies of artscribe I would spend hours poring over..then for a few brief years before his untimely death Peter Fuller’s ‘Modern Painters’ seemed to show a way forward with erudite well written articles by the likes of Jed Perl rubbing shoulders with informed ‘outsiders’ like David Bowie and poet Jamie McKendrick. I ws verbally lashed by a graphic designer who then head of Goldsmiths M.A. for even suggesting Fuller was worth reading as too rightist..the same Goldsmiths that spun a silk purse out of a sow’s ear a year later with Damien Hirst……ah the irony of it all. Nothing corrupts good intentions and political principles like a hefty wad of cash especially in the Halls of Academe….

What Fuller recognised (he was a good critic grounded in an appreciation of the English Tradition especially the writings of Ruskin, Moore, Sutherland and Hockney..read ‘Beyond the Crisis in Art‘ currently out of print) was the essential connection between an artists’s writing and their art. Especially if one moved closer to the arts and crafts area of Gill, David Jones and all the way back via William Morris to William Blake.

That tradition has never been broken it merely been supplanted by the hysterical whinnying of a thousand ‘on the make’ mediocrities in both studio and academia. Tie-ins and stitch-ups replaced a grounded and reasoned debate. A in-depth knowledge was not needed to spurt out a trendy 1000 word review of Hirst that never delved into his fragile and lately revealed lack of knowledge of anything remotely to do with art. Like the Peter Sellers film ‘Being There’ all that mattered was to be in attendance at the ‘Cinderella’s Ball’ to catch some benefits from the King’s largesse. Many very good painters and theorists (equally) retreated to the shadows …some never to return…..John Hubbard, David Blackburn, Simon Lewty, Gillian Ayres even artists with reputations as formidable as Athony Caro’s, John Hoyland’s or Tom Phillips’ were not safe. they were all pushed from the banquet table by the greedy and Sunday Supplement friendly advertising savvy new brood….they have never left nor raised their snouts since…..Chapmans, Hirst, Emin..you know the rest….

Now there seems to be a new mood afoot where not only Aesthetics but the artists themselves may once more be allowed their rightful place at the high table of art and there a very good chance their writing a lot better than the charlatans who supplanted them.

Read David Smith, Robert Motherwell, CY Twombly, Philip Guston, Picasso, Matisse…….it a long and noble tradition of both thinking and doing..

Hirst on Art………don’t make me laugh

Academic Artist? Oxymoron?

1RowlandsonExhibition+Room+Somerset+House

There was a time when the phrase ‘academic artist’ was synomonous with a certain conservatism and use of traditional strophes that reflected the academic virtues of fine handling of paint, drawing of a certain standard and a certain ‘resemblance’ to the world of the viewer who would recognise the metaphors and the world that produced the works. A ‘hang’ may be as crowded as the Rowlandson of Somerset House but like the Royal Academy Summer Show one knew what one was getting.

Now the phrase has more chance of pertaining to an altogether more insubstantial, less skilful and frankly bizarre world…..for now we have a new breed of ‘institutional academic artists’. These strange hybrid creatures (neither fish nor fowl) have realised that their ‘practice’ ( a cosy word for what they ‘do’ that has jettisoned the need to actually ‘do’ anything) is a fair hothouse flower that could not survive in the cruel harsh winds of UK PLC in a recession. having realised that their slender talents are unbankable in any BRITART fab cash in bank way they are flocking to peddle their wares at the feet of Symposiums and Academic meetings. spitting out acronyms like the funnel of one of Turner’s Steamships and generally trying to survive by writing as much about themselves and doing as little actual ‘work’ as in artwork’ as possible.

The Botanic Gardens at Kew do not have as rare and flimsy a bunch of Credit Crunch Orchids to maintain as the New Universities (desperate for AHRC money to keep the wolf from the door having spent all the cash the poor students have provided). One cannot turn around these days for collaborative projects, new commissions, artists in residence ( a wide term as will be seen) and lectures by people less able to academicise than actually ‘do’ anything. In the past there were often spurious connections to float the poor artist into the academic flow…

Some artists benefitted from a fragile correspondence between their practice and the particular specialism of a department…Lace or plastic, car engines, botany..tie-in art flourished and some artists swiftly moved from garrett to academic offices and never left such was the increase in prosperity not to mention the warmth involved.

Now we are at a fascinating juncture in this process as the wind of time and change starts to blow back on these poor fragile blooms. As the realisation that UK PLC is not only bereft of jobs but the talents to actually do something instead of just talk about doing it University departments are clutching at new straws…economic development and regeneration are the key.

From talking about their practice these hybrid ‘Academists’ are now spouting a whole new range of acronym driven homilies….again to keep their place in the warm flowerbed….it is too cold out in Real Land..too many redundancies too few opportunities.

So as the recession bites maybe one would expect the chill wind to produce some hardier perennials..maybe a return to some of those traditional practices and skills as mentioned in the old concept of ‘The Academy’. No not a jot of it…

No it appears we will wait in vain for hardy snowdrops to bloom in their stead.

I have recently trawled through some academic notions of practice and whilst many reduce the brain to a sponge and yet others begger belief both in description and action none so far has matched my latest prize…..

An artist who shall remain nameless is speaking at a destination which alack shall also remain anonymous
on his revalatory practice of…….

‘Pouring special brew on a station platform and shouting’

I wish dear reader that I could be making this up…but alas it is true. Said artist manages to not only stupify with the nonsensical act but then to explicate it in almost Johnson like hyperbole….Dear friends what looks like the drunken action of a immature less than gifted imposter is in fact art..and not only art but art of a high order..art that bears a direct descendance form the Greek Gods and Hermes himself and yes from a tradition of lay preaching….

This is where we are good kind people mouthing platitudes and accomodating gibberish in the name of art….

I may not know much about art but I do know many kinds of shit when it travails the ear and this is 100% genuine bullshit and some of our academic institutions live and breath this kind of nonsense…..so far…

Methinks a little pruning in the gardens of the comfortably well off not amiss…and soon.

Maybe then some of those real blooms and real skills can blossom without choking in the avant-garde weedbeds of edification, explication and plain verbose drivel……and we can leave that to rot like any good remnant of verdure on the roots of the finer arts.

And a handy gardening tip if it smells like shit it probably is…treat with caution and dig it under whenever possible.

Nottingham Contemporary: The good, the bad and the ugly..

donkey

I have recently had to pull a discussion post from the Nottingham Contemporary Free discussion group on facebook. Here I explain why and deliver a more considered version of basically the same material which less likely to offend the great and the good of this noble art city.

The post was a hasty response to seeing the effect the opening of ‘The Golden Egg’ is already having on culture in this city.

Geoffrey Diego Litherland’s show at the Castle was his reward for winning last year’s Nottingham Open competition. A well deserving winner and a good set of paintings in a show spoilt only by the ludicrous arrangement of hanging on a staircase. Meanwhile pride of place as usual went to a travelling Arts Council show. No better nor worse than many but surprising that second show on this theme in as many months…..are our curators trying to tap into an underlying theme about Nottingham..i.e. are we all trapped..or criminals?

My real disappointment was with the Castle Permanent Collection. It has always been a lacklustre space full of frankly third rate paintings and some gems. But previous visits never saw it looking quite so tawdry. When I pointed out that some of the signage appeared to be little more than blu-tacked to wall I got response..well all the money gone to the Egg. True or not it did make me wonder if Jack hadn’t given the cow away for a hill of beans…

Bad signage aside if one scans the ‘hidden’ collection (including a fine William Nicholson of downland I seen but once) one realises that very little of it gets aired. Something more than occasional Brit Art shows should be done with this space. Which leads me on to my main point. The Nottingham Contemporary..for good or ill and whatever it costs is here now….it has raised a certain part of the profile of the local art scene i.e. the pretentious outward looking side a notch from the days of Angel Row but what does that actually mean? We have lost at least three contemporary gallery spaces..Angel Row, Yard Gallery Wollaton and Bonington Gallery and gained two..New Art Exchange and The Egg. The Castle under Deborah Dean continues the kind of work Angel Row did…tied to ACE and very rarely escaping the confines of a certain tired politically correct viewpoint…..noble causes…dull art. Angel Row occasionally surprised but more often was as dull too and only at the end did it burst into some kind of life with the Parade shows..too little too late.

Love it or hate it Angel Row did occasionally show a mix of local and ‘international’ (i.e. what somebody saw in a magazine made it international…generally this meant American as most Art Press is USA dominated). There were never contemporary Spanish or French shows….I may be wrong as frankly I hardly bothered going in the place and when I did just got annoyed…

But it did (particularly in earlier days) show local ‘semi-professional’ artists. What worries me about The Egg is that it is a Tate Lite for the region and nothing more……in this sense it very similar to the Museum of Modern Art Oxford which apart from a ‘local artist’ space in their cafe (still operating after 20 plus years) never showed local artists unless they had made it to the glossies….

This may be one of the reasons that Oxford has virtually no thriving local arts scene..like Nottingham had up to now….it virtually ended ambitions before they flowered….I knew however hard I tried I would never ‘make it’ there….

So if The Egg shows international ( USA and Bradford born Hockney so far but he famous so that OK) and New Art Exchange is so heavily ring-fenced by its own mission statement (although I hear the curator there is trying to reflect the changing nature of the environment..) then with the loss of so many spaces for exhibition where are local artists to show? If you then say but look at the plethora of cutting edge spaces that sprung up recently I’d retort with yes and how long without funding will they last? A few have been primed with money by the Arts Council to create the impression of a vibrant local art scene to spin around The Egg but truth is ACE finding will not keep them alive forever…..just long enough to get through next year’s Brit Art spectacular is my guess then what…?

Meanwhile the mid-career (i.e. older not dead yet but been going 25 plus year artists) who actually created the ‘Nottingham Art Scene’ have been turfed out of their studios or faced rent rises and most scrabbling in the gutter or the studio equivalent. Apart from the bitterness this provokes this also bodes ill for the future as younger artists see the good and bad side of dedicating a life to their noble career…

Discounting local anarcho-capitalist venture The Art Organisation and volunteer driven/ace space The Surface there is little in the way of a middle ground left..in fact nothing left…for a serious artist who not on the Faberge Egg list (i.e. international by the magazines definition or on the Tate’s radar etc etc ) to aim at.

My ill thought out and pulled rant did raise one serious proposal that would help but which will not get funding. A serious space for local serious artists on a more permanent basis like replacing the tired dusty Castle collection with a proper survey of local artistic output (not the Open…that’s too much like a jumble sale) would help…..then we would have less bitterness and less frustration.

At present to be a mid-career artist in this city is to feel like a unwanted guest at a shiny teenager’s party we not invited to…and when we do arrive we constantly reminded that ‘making it’ is more important that actually making it…the art work…..it the disease of contemporary art institutions and education…..until that addressed we will continue to clutch at Golden Eggs that when cracked leak sand not gold…

also available at

http://www.shaunbelcher.com/blog/

Damien Hirst revealed as bad painter….

Fake artists, fake academics..a sad low, dishonest decade (to paraphrase Auden) of infantile, greedy pseudo intellectuals…
and here the best of them all…greedy bankers, brit artists, mps expenses….spot the difference?

I can’t stop laughing at Hirst’s ‘paintings’ what next Tracy Emin starts on bronze-casting? can’t wait….to hell with the whole sad bunch of fakes….

Almost every review shows him up as a fake but this beautifully precise in its derision….

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/oct/18/damien-hirst-no-love-lost

If you’re going to ‘quote’ Bacon Damien at least try and do it well not like a clumsy sixth former who been reading too many Salvador Dali books ..

Hill of money – mountains of cash

It has come to my attention that the Arts Council of England. A glorious body of noble souls are at this time perusing some submissions for a large wad of cash – 12 X £5000,000 – for specific art projects related to the glorious Olympiad of 2012.

Now I thought that every hair-brained, stupid artistic nonsense in the world had been explored..but no..where there’s money there’s crap to reverse the old adage…

An individual has proposed a fake hill somewhere in a Midland City centre…….yes you read rightly..a hill……there being no real, natural or god help us any reshaped urban landscape already available….hills are hard to come by these days…..

On said hill would occur many an artistic event, you name it the application scrapes it up..interventions, installations, finger painting , rap concerts..it is as wonderful a fiesta of all that truly original and beautiful in the U.K. arts scene as any arts officer has ever seen….maybe even a dolphin in an aquarium if the money doesn’t run out?

In yours and my name the infallible Arts Council will build a tawdry heap which no doubt will collapse after construction and how much carbon will be used in constructing this edifice to stupidity???

Enough is enough! That such a stupid piece of self promoting garbage has actually got through the submission process shows the gullibility and fatuous nature of our supposed Council of the Arts…..

I suggest a pressure group to stop this kind of garbage in its tracks before it pays the protagonists mortgages and leaves everybody else bemused and angered….

World's Largest Henry Moore?

After all the gnashing of artist’s brushes over Wallinger’s Horse maybe we should honour my hometown’s pile of concrete instead ..to be frank I prefer the Power Station :-) Indeed Marina Warner argued for its preservation after it decommissioned as a Modernist Monument to the age of power and energy consumption..that may be sooner than we think..

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source: http://edvaizey.mpblogs.com/2009/01/03/didcot-home-to-the-worlds-largest-henry-moore/

Didcot, Home to the World’s Largest Henry Moore
Didcot has just got a new arts centre, but this is not the town’s first foray into the arts. Mark Hedges, the editor of Country Life, has the memory of an elephant, Shortly after meeting me, he sent me an article from Country Life dated 3rd May 2007, which was an interview with Howard Colvin, the architectural historian. colvin is quoted as saying “I remember we [the Fine Art Commission] were shown scale models of the cooling towers for Didcot power station and Henry Moore spent ages moving them around to create a good composition. I saw them the other day from the train and think he did rather a good job”. So there you have it, Didcot, home to Henry Moore’s largest sculpture

Dancing on the YBA grave…

ozymandias1

A response to a Jonathan Jones blog entry on the Guardian website
http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2009/jan/30/contemporary-british-art-recession?

A generation of lo-fi subversives may finally have found something to be lo-fi and subversive about. After all, Hirst, Whiteread and their generation found their striking voices at a moment of recession.

The artists who think like this are kidding themselves.

Thankyou JJ I am pleased if I dumped in the ‘Lo-Fi’ bin with all the rest….sadly you utterly wrong because as an urban white middle class professional you cannot see past the ring-fence that been in operation for the past twenty years and which the ‘revolutionary joy’ about which you complain actually directed at….put simply I live and have lived outside that area for most of my life until now…ironically…you have no knowledge or experience of that so how could you comment or are you thinking of the shallow subversives of our modern art schools as they the only ones you ever met?

see Nick Cohen on this factor here..
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2009/jan/25/television
as he says..

In general, though, literary writers and filmmakers (AND ARTISTS/CRITICS my addition!) had little interest in deprivation and wealth, and failed to see the connections between the two. Raised in public-sector families, educated in universities and working in academia, they were the artistic equivalents of Westminster’s political class: narrow professionals with few experiences of life beyond their trade. No writer is obliged to write a state-of-England novel, but so few wanted to that the critic DJ Taylor complained in 2007 of “the fatal detachment of the modern ‘literary’ writer from the society that he or she presumes to reflect”.

Two generations of artists were as badly damaged as they were helped by the art market YBA years…..one of my best friends actually committed suicide because of it because of the depression of trying to survive with skills in a market which dumped those values and rode the stock market instead…..money and trash made good bedfellows …

So I found my subversive voice now have I??…sorry wrong again.

I like some others have been subversive since day I left Hornsey back in 1981…..I and others like me walked away and turned our backs on this parade of Goldsmiths driven rubbish and were ignored or worse pitied for our opposition.

There is no glee in my heart at all just a sad realisation that not only real lives but art school ethics and skills training has been dumped along with the giant YBA baby……Hirst was a giant Cuckoo in a very small nest who managed to distort a difficult occupation into an impossible one…now a lot of magpies, rooks and ravens are coming home to roost….they will pick a lot of corpses bare not just Hirsts….

CODA

Yesterday by some quirk of nature I found myself cheek by jowel with Mr Saatchi along with a dear friend who has been painting brilliantly in a council flat with no support from state or bankers for 30 years…..it was a strange moment to be caught between the devil and the deep blue sea of real artistic talent…..I know which knew more about art….

The only difference between them was about a few million pounds…..I have no doubt Mr.S believes he right and doing good for artists…I do not think he was right and the period of YBA you identify RIP YBA 1991 – 2007 is just another lazy soundbite piece of journalism…. the rot had set in way before and the damage will last far longer and goes far deeper than you realise…

Does this matter in face of mass poverty and recession probably not…..make hay while the sun still shines for its going to be a bitterly cold year in all the arts….I take no joy at all in any of this….

In fact I trying to rebuild from ground zero like a lot of others……the view from the ivory tower is over….

Moogee

The New Depression Gallery

trust

To be serious for a moment (it happens) the last post  from Badam saddens me greatly. I too was a ‘serious’ artist with unpaid bills, a freezing studio, an interview at Goldsmiths (same year as Hirst if accepted..I wasn’t ..too serious for the times it appears..Fuller/Bacon self-portraiture didn’t ‘hang’ well with a interview panel of a graphic designer, a conceptualist and a student who hung black bin liners in rows…I kid you not.. to look for the real tale of why art where it is go to the enfeeblement of the art schools by profit and Thatcherism and YBA’s)…

I hung in there in the starving artist manor a lot longer than most – in fact until 2004 when I finally did teacher training and I now teach multimedia students.

What saddens me is that Saatchi being a willey coyote knows that with the collapse of state support as grants and the recession hit the art schools we will see a downturn in both student numbers and ability as working class students fail to make the financial sacrifices demanded of them. What chance a new Hockney, Moore or dare I say it Hirst these days??

Then Hey Presto! here comes a new income stream for his ‘global reach’. No longer able to afford art school ..just log on and become a famous artist Charles’s way…no need for time consuming education. The fact that one in a million becomes your betting chance of success as opposed to 1 in 25 or less AFTER graduating from the Royal College or any other Art School (official statistics reveal that you may become a teacher but a successful artist….well you have a cat in Emins chance)

So as art education collapses for lack of support who better to take over the education of our new ‘elite’ than…Saatchi Enterprises..who was rumoured to be preparing his own Art School as we speak..privately funded of course and what better way to promote it than getting prime time BBC2 coverage to get it going…no fool that one.

He no more interested in the talent than Lloyd Webber……their real talent is pushing their tie-in profit making concerns..via these programmes…pure Cowellism.

Musicals or Singers or Artists its all the same racket….

As for Badem…do it for yourself mate there are no silver linings, no Galleries paved with gold…..my lesson in reality started early.

Unable to attend a Royal College M.A. in painting because Thatcher slashed funds I wandered into a gallery with some slides….

‘Don’t bother showing me the slides’ said the gallery owner..
“Dear boy we toddle along to the Royal College M.A. every year and pick the ones with prizes’ They choose for us the rest like you are forgotten….”

How true…

So well done Charles for proving that nothing ever changes..as for poor students…at least they don’t have to waste years paying off loans..they can be rejected from the get-go.

A Rake’s Progress indeed?

I shall be first in line for dismissal in The new Depression Gallery….

working