Andre Wallace

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Tate screens installed

The Tate has installed video screens to encourage visitors to be artists or critics - one has to ask why is this necessary - more digital indigestion? Is it because they can learn from the man on the Clapham omnibus. One wonders whether the imagery is retained in any form for future inspection or is as disposable as usual. Michael Craig-Martin wasn't keen on it but has changed his mind and now says it's easy to use and very sympathetic!  Sir Nicholas says that Tate digital experience will be extended to reach new audiences, maybe in Ulan Bator or Burkina Faso? Note the article footnote that the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition attracted Tate Britain's largest ever audience of 240,000 - you would think that the curators may learn something from this fact, one can only hope so!

Tracey Emin has been abused in the media yet again by her good friend Sarah Lucas, who called her work second rate in july - this from the girl who worked on this juvenile stuff for the salon. Perhaps one should be cynical enough to believe that any kind of publicity is better than being ignored but these artists are now members of the establishment and one even advertises MandS.  Lucas tells our Sooke that she looks at less art than anyone else on the planet which is a rather arcane admission for any artist, can't see what it proves unless she fears being influenced by her lessers!  There is much to be gained from having more front than every branch of Sainsbury's.

Stupid debate about whether fraud is art here but the photograph says it all?  news from A_N that state arts provision in the Uk continues to decline as more local authorities close down resource centres.  There is even an organisation called lost arts collecting the evidence.

Spotted on a hoarding in Cadogan square - A crude Banksy entitled Rude Pope. Whoever stencilled it cannot draw hands.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Recovered archeology and stuff

This blog is at a tipping point, criticising critics has a poor future as many of the quality UK newspapers are dispensing with art criticism. So this blog will change, how is yet to be decided.

Sci Fi Sculpture
A whole new sculpture entertainment genre is opening up which could be termed Prometheus pretence.
Rachel Cooke is getting aerated about one of these exhibitions in this week's Observer. An Artangel event in central London, a fake archeological dig by former Slade student Daniel Silver. She writes; "Isn't it just like Artangel commissioning the right artist to make the right work in just the right place?" Well yes, an unused vacant building lot, but this is all about derivative Herms and neo-classical references.  Science fiction - shades of Stargate Atlantis and all those Van Vogt novellas about humanity wandering into the decaying museum of some long lost and dead civilisation on the planet Tharg on the other side of the galaxy and unwittingly resurrecting their worst possible nightmare. Rather like this sculpture which begs the question where does film set design start and fine art end? Not an easy question to answer - unless you strip out sci fi knowledge from your judgement.  The piece finishes with the most inane piece of art critical fluff it is possible to pen: "The analyst, the archaeologist, the artist: they are all of them diggers of a kind. What they bring to the surface is our sense of ourselves: where we came from, and where we might be going." And how will we get here? As if there was any remote possibility of any of that happening here?

More end of the millennium angst from one Adrian Villar Rojas an Argentinian artist who is worried about the end of the world. Aren't we all, some have us have been living with potential nuclear holocaust for over sixty years. Syria is potentially just as dangerous as the Bay of Pigs. Rojas says his work is human culture as a readymade? What nonsense some artists talk! It is traditional sculpture - modelled and sculpted clay. Why does he not bother to fire or cast the clay of his Curt Cobain hero worship fetish to preserve it. Seems to defeat the point of creating it, allowing moisture to decay and disintegrate it. The work is - horror of horrors representational! The decay won't increase his sales but the arts council seem to be paying for it as usual and they have lots of form for burning our public cash so that's all right then. More than a tad pretentious, the lad has been selected for the grand reopening of the Serpentine. Can't wait - me neither.

Another piece of archeological recovery is the news that the RA is doing life drawing lessons again - about time, and better late than never. Note that the tutor is not the renowned professor of drawing and the classes are for those who can draw which puts the noses of 98% of recent fine art graduates out.

State art awards

Antony Gormley has won a really exceptional art prize (£95,000) and two gentlemen - Gilbert and George have been given honorary doctorates by the university of Plymouth, a step up from the university of East London. This is the time of the year when these approved gongs are awarded to state approved artists in the late careers.......

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kelly Grovier - 100 works

Kelly Grovier has had plenty of advanced publicity (even a spot on radio 4's Today) for an effort to boost the status of state art. Once fashionable, contemporary artists continuously drop off the radar. The artworld is precisely the same in people turnover as the world of popular music and who listens to the Bay City Rollers or Slade today? How many contemporary art galleries from 1969 are still going today? Very few, galleries come and go, artists come and go.  The whole system promotes rapid turnover and nothing lasts for long, attention spans just go on getting smaller. Such are the demands of the market and capital.

The whole premise of the book is an intellectual conceit, no-one can know which artists will define our present age - because those assumptions rely upon knowing that the way in which the present will be viewed by any specific era in the future can be predicted. The specious idea that it's possible to predict that the usual suspects skull littered with diamonds or Tracy's bed define our time is something often disproved by the thousands of artists who commanded huge prices in their day and whose work is now gathering dust the store-rooms and warehouses of galleries and museums. Artists like MeissonierLord Leighton, George Frederick Watts or Greuze. Only one thing is certain, and it is this, that when the present hedge funded distorted values of contemporary art have been washed away - as they will inevitably be as sanity returns to the market - the artists that define our age will slowly emerge from obscurity. Many are invisible, many unknown except in their own locality, quietly getting on with the job of creating real art that is not kitsch. Telling the truth to the future is what they are being compelled to do and the truth in their work will not be marred by present pecuniary distortions and the all too ignorant market.  Anyhow one wonders what art objects we will leave for archaeologists to discover - undoubtedly very very little. That bed or shark won't stay the course.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Waldemar Januszczak

This week 8th Sept art critic Waldemar Januszczak lines up alongside David Lee in a Sunday Times piece criticising the appalling state of the Artworld. He mentions the resignation of David Hickey who's had enough of it, as things are really tragic in the good old USA, where hedge funds have completely ruined the real value of art. He also accuses Charles Saatchi of starting it all, "rarely can a pot have spied this much blackness in surrounding kettles!" Then he takes a swipe at the careers of the ubiquitous Curators, (which this blog has often done,) he writes; " The curators doing the damage are the berks who run the Biennales, who befuddle us with artspeak and 'curate' events of ever increasing unnecessariness, privileging their creativity over that of the artists - these are the real villains  of contemporary art." The event that inspires this negativity is the experience of sitting in a French quarry surrounded by vast scale reproductions of 20th century greats. The problem with so much contemporary art, Waldemar says, is the lack of content, something to think about and something to understand - indeed something to appreciate and contemplate or put simply any art. All this tradition of excellence, the hard work of engagement with the real object has been dumped by the market and curators, and as Januszczak says once you go wow twice, nothing is left, not even the memory of the experience ..........Art isn't just entertainment!

The Independent on Sunday has sacked all it's art critics as part of it's cuts which is a shame as we will miss Charles Darwent's good sense. Darwent has an eye for truth - which is more than one can say for the rest of the UK's art critics.
Speaking of which Rachel Cooke emerges from the woodwork to pen a piece on the Henry Moore and Francis Bacon show at the Ashmolean in Oxford. This is revisionist criticism, full of revealing little gems of very poor perception such as this gem "these two cleaved to the figurative as if it was a life raft."  Having lived through criticism of these artists when they were alive it strikes one that real perception has coarsened and degraded over the years. Rachel Cooke argues that Moore was kinder and more tender to humanity and the body than Bacon, whose vision was bleaker and more painful; This is to ignore through lack of historical knowledge, the fact that in the 60's Bacon's works were perceived as sour homosexual nihilistic protest, at a time when this was criminal activity - the context was all. Henry Moore on the other hand, was perceived by the press as a former war artist, a socialist and a humanist who was optimistic about the human condition, so he distributed artworks to new towns and local authorities. This is something that the usual suspect has also done for his local Ilfracombe. Motives are the cogent explanations here.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

David Dawson at Marlborough

Some artists are leaders and some are followers, this week sees the launch of an exhibition of work by Lucian Freud's studio assistant David Dawson at Marlborough no less.  He has taken the traditional atelier path to learn his craft from an artist who was technically worth learning from and so he may emerge as one of the best painters around when he frees himself of the influence. Apparently he once shared a studio with the RA's professor of drawing.

Charles Darwent gets worked up in the Sunday Independent about morality by discussing a set of Robert Rauschenberg "drawingsfor Dante's Inferno. Only they are not drawings, but off-set printed collages made by rubbing the back of a printed image immersed in solvent (usually white spirit) with a biro - a very eighties technique that produces a very distinct nebulous printed image of limited expressive content and scope. They must be brilliant because they are by Rauschenberg, but everyone produces dogs sometimes, and these are undoubtedly dogs. Darwent admits as much when he says that they attempt to de-trash trash and fail on all counts. Darwent is one critic who actually does try hard to express the truth.  He tells us that Rauschenberg came to see modernism as a variant of his Texan parents fundamental Christianity, - how does that work then, Modernism = Morality?

This week too we hear of two artists in advanced  hype for the Victorian socialist realist painter no-one ever heard of ( Frank Holl - who he? a hero of Van Gogh's letters apparently ) at the Watts gallery and a Brazilian artist no-one ever has heard of Mira Schendel ( Who she?) at the Tate.

Frank Holl a contemporary of Hubert Herkomer was forgotten within  months of his death  at the age of 43. He worked himself to death in 1888. He has come back into fashion because his imagery was disarmingly honest and like Charles Dickens he was straight in dealing with the social problems around him. Definitely a good guy whose well regarded work exists in private houses all around the UK. We need this kind of art today, only there are no contemporary artists interested in or capable of producing it. You can admire him for his humanity, his concern for the poor and his ability to show both sides of the social contract as well as his easy on the eye naturalism. He came from a long line of great engravers so he know about hardship first hand. Rachel Cooke at the Observer takes pains to give us his life history.

Mira Schendel, born in 1919 has been given a major retrospective at the Tate Modern as a right on hard core neo-conceptualist.  Her work isn't visual, it's the common State art conceptual non-visual attempts at profundity from the school of scratchy drawings and cartoon pretense, many of the works we are told have never been exhibited before. She is also we are assured an artist's artist, only she isn't, and inevitably (yawn) her work is canonical!! What is it with these stupid attempts to sanctify largely unknown artists as the saintly leaders of some sort of pseudo-religious conceptual art cult?  Why, art is not religion?

John Bellany a great scottish painter whose work was about colour and suffering has died at the age of 71 after a long illness.

Lastly RA Tom Phillips has a new show in Cork Street. Phillips is that very English kind of understated painter whose career has spanned many movements and trends since the sixties, his latest work is particularly interesting in it's quiet understated technical painterly complexity and maturity.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

S-Tate art - purchase

Today 3rd September brings us the news of an exciting new art purchase by the Tate, who have saved Martin Creed's "Work no 277 - the lights going on and off" for the nation. Purchased for the putative sum of £110,000, it will be going on tour soon. 

The news is accompanied by artbollocks  from Loiuse Buck Tate curator "Arguably Creed's most famous work" and Fiona Bradley director of the Fruitmarket gallery who enthuses that "it is a sober minimalist piece in  a long line of artists using everyday materials for potent formal and psychological effect and a great work by one of Britain's most important artists." Planet Zarg stuff this, the serious question is, where is the potent formal and psychological effect in turning lights on and off?  Bradley burns her own case with this revelation; "When quizzed by a member of the audience who said he found the work difficult to understand, Martin said: ""I do not know what you mean. When I go around galleries I can find some work hard to understand, such as Velasquez, so I make work that is really easy to understand like a light going on and off,"" He wasn't taking the mickey."  So simple to understand, there is nothing artistic or aesthetic to consider!!! even state art critic Jonathon Jones is not sure of his ground with Creed.