Andre Wallace

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Anselm Keifer and other war art

I started this blog some time ago in art world terms, three years to be exact and it gives no pleasure that it now reflects well the art criticism that is regularly cropping up in the zeitgeist. There are now often discussions in the media that address the topic that this blog proposed: namely that contemporary art had come off the rails and lost the plot. It became the tool of certain what we could term "interests," and as such it was unsustainable as both art and culture. "You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can't fool all the people all the time."

This video on Utube shows how far dissent is now encroaching upon the contemporary orthodoxy which has consistently failed to provide us with the kinds of art that we actually need spiritually to feed upon. Many great artists continue to be marginalised by state art institutions and major galleries.

This link is pure proof that there is some superb work by 21st century artists who are really at the cutting edge of their art. So there are still artists out there who know how important aesthetics are. There is hope yet, that the stable will finally get mucked out.

Andrew Graham Dixon has produced an excellent TV series on WW1 artists, the David Bomberg programme was remarkably good but he missed out completely on the fact that Bomberg had been a WW2 war artist as well, even if only for a short time. His series painted in the Bomb store at RAF Fauld before it exploded are war paintings he could have included.

Continuing the war art theme there is the "greatest living artist" Anselm Keifer who is everywhere all over the media at present but mainly at the RA where he has been made an academician - why? Thought that the RA's remit was for British artists, is there some sort of establishment guilt trip going on here?......... His work is heavy on enigma and a seriously portentous 50 year old continual study of war which cannot be even remotely fashionable among the Me, me, me's ....... Most of it is undoubtedly good solid art full of aesthetic possibilities.
What is outrageous about all this media fawning is that any english artist dealing with similar themes wouldn't get a showing anywhere because he wouldn't get past the gatekeepers which is why Michael Sandle has been working and living in Germany these past forty years
Rachel Cooke at the Guardian writes this underwhelming copy;" He has never turned away from the difficult and the sombre; his career is a magnificent reproach to those who think art can’t deal with the big subjects, with history, memory and genocide. In the end, though, what stays with you is the feeling – overwhelming at times – that he is always making his way carefully towards the light." As if there is anyone with the faintest trace of any kind of cultural education who believes that art cannot deal with the most significant themes - had always assumed that was it's main purpose, but there you go! Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose - as it were.

Alistaire Sooke has his pennyworth and so does Waldemar Januszczak whilst Mark Hudson (who he?) at the Telegraph and Peter Popham at the Independent (who he?) do the same promoting.

Lastly we have a truly terrible line up for that annual bean feast that is the Turner Prize. Having complained much about the quality of the chosen acolytes in the past, this year one cannot be bothered to comment upon these "artists": Rachel Campbell Johnson thinks this year is a complete dud, and even the fawning state art promoter Richard Dorment is very critical, and Waldemar Januszczak says don't bother to take it in which says it all. Which is where we came in.

Apart from that comes the news that the Head of the Russian Orthodox church has condemned western contemporary art as pure filth and stupidity. This has of course outraged certain western liberal "sensitivities," but all one can say is that those liberal "sensitivities" wouldn't know what a sacrilege is in any circumstances. There is news that a local council has destroyed a Banksy in Clacton, but it was seen as racist and of course they really didn't know what it was worth.  You couldn't invent this stuff you really couldn't.

Then there is this sane commentary from Roger Scruton, explaining why he thinks that contemporary art has become fake art. Finally a question? Would you pay $20million for an all white painting even if it was endorsed by Charles Saatchi?

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

No more arty isms?

Anyone who follows contemporary art will have asked themselves at some point why there are no more art movements when there were so many in the 20th century from Impressionism onto neo-expressionism. Because art now serves the vested interests of a few power brokers who call all the shots, artists do not themselves any longer collaborate to create any art with similar interests and a world changing philosophy. In fact artists have abandoned aesthetics and money has claimed the vacuum. YBA's for example have been notable for the way in which they have sought out and secured wealth without having any ideology or social agenda.

That's why this article on painting is interesting, and actually points to some of the truth by analysing the forms of art:
".... painting is generally more engaged with (and bound by) the history and development of its own medium than are other forms of art. Even in an increasingly ahistorical environment, there is more self-reflection and more analysis of the medium itself among painters—not surprising considering the long history of painting’s pre-eminence."

Which brings us to Frank Auerbach's retrospective - at last an artist and painter who works from the real world, not the arcane spiral's of his own imagination. Frank was of course taught by one the the UK's major painters of the 20th century at the Borough rd school, the great David Bomberg whose life was marred and handicapped by anti-semitism. To the extent that even today he is not given the status he truly deserves both as teacher and as truly innovative painter.

Another painter recently discovered is this; Jerome Witkin who is a master in waiting. Also interesting is this man who makes spoons for a living.
This Chinese artist Lui Bolin is intriguing but one has to ask "what's he about?"

Lastly there is this news that Kickstarter is fast becoming the primary source of arts funding in the USA and surely that will move onto the UK with time. It is a truly excellent concept and idea.