Whispers

Whispers
Andre Wallace

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ron Mueck Sunday 15th April 2012

Interesting post in today's Sunday Times  - The author Bryan Appleyard is keen to point up the comparison between Ron Mueck and Damien Hirst to show the deficiencies of the latter's work and then enhance the reputation of the former in defiance of market judgement. He argues that Mueck is a YBA but the odd man out because he is all skill and he is not art school educated. He quotes one Craig Raine who states that Hirst's work is kitsch compared with the experience of seeing "Dead Dad". Jonathon Jones the Guardian's fully paid up state art critic who argues we are told, that Mueck's work is brainless, and his attack on our gut feelings is bullying. "I just don't think you see enough art"' he says. This comparison with Hirst is backed up by Will Self who is quoted as arguing that he isn't sure that Hirst's work is significant anymore saying that: ...."he is corrupted by money, pure and simple."


There then follows a description of the Mueck exhibition at Hauser and Writh supported by Marina Warner (for it is she) who states that Mueck is a sacred artist working in a secular way. His formidable sculptural skill derived from Henson's puppeteer factory needs a more open way of seeing. This is then backed up with the ponderous justification of Susan Sontag saying in 1964 that we need an erotics of art instead of a hermeneutics. Amen to that one. Returning to Raine we hear; "it's all about skill and there's got to be something else besides." Like meaning for instance, but this is a very old fashioned piece of truth, is it not? The text ends with this coda; "Its time for the conceptualists to stand aside and make way for the uncanny. Head for Saville Row, not the salesman of Southwark" Couldn't agree more, hope the curators at the RA and Tate are aware of this small shift in the Zeitgeist. Won't be permanent though, as Waldemar is probably on holiday.


Peter Conrad in the Observer pens two pages on Sir Anthony Caro at Chatsworth House. Nothing elitist here of course, just repeat girders and profundity. Caro's early work, the 1950's representational sculpture of human beings is truly awful, leaden, ponderous and dull. He hasn't travelled that far in terms of meaning in 60 years, although some of his vast output is quite playful. "Egyptian " we are informed makes a gloomy comment on the purpose of houses such as Chatsworth which exist for trophies and trinkets, the spoils that stay behind after the owners de-materialise and so on in the same vein. However we are then informed that the landscape is the result of gardening geniuses (Capability Brown) and Caro's achievement is to demonstrate that steel is equally malleable, as easy to shape as water. Only it isn't. It is hard, inflexible, geometric, vicious and crude in expression wherever it is placed as anyone who has welded it knows only too well. The sculpture is abstract, formal with architectural references and no allusions to the human body apart from scale. As such it is the antitheses of Mueck. We are asked to believe that; " thanks to Caro the grounds of Chatsworth have become an adventure playground of the mind."  Having spent happy hours in the gardens of Chatsworth the grounds were already that, without Sir Anthony's girders. Good sculpture functions well wherever it is placed in the environment.

Charles Darwent's copy in the Independent of Sunday addresses the curatorial enigma of Peter Feldman at the Serpentine. It contains a real gem; "When he photographs each of the 68 strawberries in a half kilo box individually and puts the results on the wall  - we can truthfully say we have seen every strawberry in a punnet. So what? It tells us nothing of of strawberries, of strawberryness ."  A precis of everything that is wrong with conceptual art. Hans Peter Feldman denies that he is an artist, which is both as dissembling and untrue as the Serpentine is an art gallery. Darwent explains thus; "His belief is that we should never believe anything - including him." One has to question the real relevance of this kind of material display, this faux curation and it's pretension to exist as an art form. Most historical museums have collections of objects of far more interest and contemporary relevance.

Lastly talking of lazy slipshod solutions as to what is art or not, two pages of garbage in today's Independent on Turner Prize nominee Karla Black at the Tate Britain no less by Hannah Duguid. Tate Britian has no excuse for this exhibition entitled "At fault". Blatantly they are "at fault" for giving this dross, house room. The artist informs us that her work is frequently ruined by children, when its' made of cellophane, ribbons, paper and white plaster cake what does she expect. In these brutal insensitive days even Henry Moore bronzes are vandalized or stolen. The piles of crumpled paper occupying the once hallowed halls of Tate Britain and the curators of this puerile childish non-sense exhibition need to be held accountable for their function and the tax payers money they waste in these straightened times. It's no excuse to say that nothing new is coming out of art schools now, even if  Ms Black was educated at Glasgow School of art. She has even less excuse, when many thousands of real artists are marginalised and ignored by the conceptual state art cartel that runs the Tate, RA, Serpentine and Haywood and who favour above all meaningless tripe such as this. There are figures in state art who have been in power too long, and they and their challenging needs, need reform and removal. Which brings us back to Ron Mueck who didn't attend any art school to learn how to make sculpture, and probably is all the better for it.


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