Andre Wallace

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The weeks contemporary art news

A new financial record for a female artist - A Georgia O'Keefe. sells for $44.4 Million. 

Will Self announces that the hyper rich are ruining London. He makes a sophisticated case explaining that the new Tate extension is problematic: "The new Tate Modern will thus be not an art gallery per se, but a sort of life-size model of what an art gallery might be should our culture have need of one. Since it doesn’t, but rather has a requirement for visitor attractions that reify the ever‑widening gulf between haves and have-nots, I’m absolutely certain it will prove an outrageous success." Hubris.

This Sunday's Independent contains an article by a Nick Clark who argues that British Culture is flatlining because of local authority cuts. He reports Robert Hewison an historian as saying that the UK cultural infrastructure will disintegrate after the next election through lack of government funding. It is being sustained at present by the Lottery fund. Do wish that ACE didn't waste so much propping up the unsustainable state art structure. This coalition government is narrowing the audience for the arts by marginalising the arts in the state the education system (public schools don't have any problem) which is now actively limiting arts participation. All so very predictable. The Blair government entered a Faustian pact with the arts which later created a lack of trust, and is now completely broken by money. We will all be the much poorer for it, lost the empire, now actively loosing the arts. Closed the local art schools and museums. So short sighted and downright stupid in purely economic terms alone, let alone quality of life. Short term ignorance is cheap but the most expensive in the long run.  British design was not so long ago the very best in the world. 

"Neoliberalism brought us the banking crisis and is bringing us a cultural crisis. It's a slow burn, but it's happening," Hewison is reported as having said. There is no will to reverse it.

Prince Charles does many very good and positive things and it's great to see that the Charlotte St, Princes Drawing School has been now upgraded to the Royal Drawing School. It says much that for the last decade practically the only art institution in the UK teaching fine art drawing was the school that the Prince set up to preserve the artist's most needed and most pertinent form of visual notation. The rest of the higher education inadequates threw the baby out with the bathwater in pursuit of shlock advertising imperatives and faux art education based upon non-sense.
So don't come back with all that purile non-sense about drawing being taught in secondary schools at GCSE and A level - get real, as if that is remotely possible when headmasters are dispensing with their art departments as fast as they legally can?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

That Mike Leigh film - J W M Turner.

Mike Leigh's Mr Turner

Mr Turner is an interesting film experience, much like dipping your head in a bucket of brown dirty water.

This is not a great film, it is literally a long Brown Study. Every frame has a yellow ochre tint that becomes just as visually tedious as the over long close-ups which point up both the actors and the CGI limitations. 
Petworth House looks as old and tired then as it does now in 2014 and the Turner paintings in situ do not look anything like as fresh as they would have in the 1820's. There is no sense of the revolutionary aspects of Turners work in any of the film. It is all set pieces, full of Timothy Small's grunts and snorts, frequent choice quotes and retellings of old art history nuggets. The CGI has inaccuracies such as the continual addition of extra waves in seascapes and the treatment of the paintings. The rehash of the fighting Temeraire is lacking in colour intensity and more care could have been taken with the accuracy of the artwork, which again looks just as aged and brown new varnished then as it does now in Tate Britain. Throughout the entire film none of it apart from some sets looks fresh and new and the enacted power plays at the RA varnishing day are downright silly in their over dramatised classist politics. The worst is the young Ruskin who is a comedic parody of the most crass type.
Above all, there is no appreciation of real looking, no quietude, no contemplation, no true visual sensibility. A silly, messy and populist film experience of a great painter's life.

Nigel Andrews, Financial Times: "It’s a beautiful film because it isn’t afraid of beauty’s uglinesses. Artists don’t personify the ideal or dazzling worlds they envision. They are the workshop, not the work. So it’s right, in a biopic, that we see the mess of the creative life."

Finally Christies contemporary art sale smashes all records, the art market continues it's inevitable rise.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Christianity and contemporary art

Following on from the previous post concerning art and religion this week we have Bryan Appleyard in the Sunday Times telling us that Christianity is refusing to lie down and die despite our dominant cultural atheist taste makers. This badly written article raises some questions, one is hard put to find any contemporary art that is vaguely christian in visual content. 
Appleyard blames the influence of Duchamp for this - as well he might, but if he knew anything about Duchamp - he would know that his visual procedures were derived from very dubious occult sources such as Madame Blavatsky. 
He rumbles on determinedly trying to convince us that work such as Mark Wallinger's "Ecce Homo" for the fourth plinth is a religious work. What he fails to remark upon is that artists without faith cannot produce religious art. No-one could argue that "Francis Bacon's Popes" were religious paintings despite the fact that the artist recanted his atheism on his deathbed.

Appleyard quotes Roger Wagner stating that; "Explicitly religious artists are the true dissidents in a culture of repudiation."

Furthermore he adds;" As the brute hostility of militant atheism subsides and artists look for more expansive meanings, this strange phase may be ending. Picasso is rising." 
For most of us in art Picasso never went away, if he is beginning to be seen anew by a new generation this is an excellent thing - he was the real giant of 20th century art. What he doesn't say is that for the balance to return sanity and to a contemporary art based upon empirical engagement with the world, we have to remove the dominant forces whose interests created the current atheism and nihilism.  They are still in place declaring rubbish about craft and rendering because they are mostly no-nothings....... Art should be above all else be life affirming.

This brings us to the truth - which is that contemporary art has been concerned to mock Christianity and it's values, not to engage with it as it did in the past. Artists are far more adept at undermining Christian values than they are at promoting them.
There's many examples of this problem:
Francis Bacon, Andrés Serrano, the Chapman Bros, Robert Gober, Maurizio Cattelan, Chris Ofili, Sam Taylor-Wood, Kerry Stewart, etc

Today Friday the 14.11.14 we have a strange piece in the Guardian from Polly Toynbee questioning why we need to worship the genuine authentic work of art. This flies against the latest research which has proved that we respond with far more personal identification with the real art work than we do to a copy. That is not to say that the survival of the plaster casts in the sculpture court of the VandA is not a good thing. Especially when hundreds of UK art schools were closed down and their victorian casts were disposed of after WW2 without any rational thought or consideration of what they represented. The sculpture court gives thousands of people their first real glimpse of the real power of art, albeit at a one removed experience. So Toynbee writes:.
"But why should it matter, if they look exactly the same? Art descends to fetish if the only value is to worship at the actual spot where Turner put his brush. Much art looks better on television than in life. I re-watched Kenneth Clarke's Civilisation series, and even in 1969 TV colour, he makes you look and see better. So can Andrew Graham-Dixon in his many TV series."

This is quite erroneous, there are far too many industries destroying the significance of great art by exploiting it in reproduction. Just think of the countless thousands of ways the Mona Lisa has been exploited to the extent that it has lost much of it's original value. The production of the actual artwork is not the same thing as that of the reproduction of it. When you have spent a lifetime of looking at art you realise that the copy is just like the fake, bland and lacking in any of the artists expressive power. The same thing is true of those artists who run factories of assistants.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Christopher Wool and Alan Jones

Alan Jones is an anomic pop artist, out of his 1960's time, always provocative, he is now excusing his work as post feminist. Nicholas Wroe in the guardian is keen to point up the fact that his work is as offensive" as it ever was. He quotes Alan Jones as follows:"But it is a coincidental and unfortunate reading that has nothing to do with the work. As an artist, I have a responsibility to art. As a human being, I have a responsibility to society. I was brought up a socialist and I think of myself as a feminist and I don’t need to defend my political stance.” 
So that's all right then? and this thoughtful remark which finishes the piece:"Who knows if people will still be interested in all this in 100 years’ time, but if they are, I have a funny feeling they might well use one of my sculptures to sum it up.”

Waldemar Januszczak in the Sunday Times 16/11/14 gets similarly annoyed and damns the work as downright sexist twaddle. Can't help thinking he is right here, the symbols mean nothing new or even significant, rather than progressing Jones has consistently made more deeply entrenched and sexist kitsch.
Alan Jones also succeeded in riling the sanctimonious Jonathon Jones in the Guardian as if he hadn't enough to contend with this week after having angered everyone in the land with a misbegotten article about the Poppy sculpture around the Tower of London. Some people, it seems are just gluttons for punishment as the discussion thread below the article demonstrates clearly. It was amusing that the Tower of London article provoked Private Eye into satirising his remarks with an article entitled The six all-times greatest conveniences in art. Jones is partial to the ten best xxxx in art. Written by someone who studied Jones writing in depth it contained acrid gems and a beautiful rehash of his ill considered post-modernism.;"
There are it strikes me, strong hints of necrophilia in the siting of the soap in the conveniences of the Gagosian Gallery. The soap is next to the basin. That much is clear. And is the basin next to the soap? Yes. it is. And are these questions worth asking? No. But where do the taps point? Downwards, as though beckoning us to an early grave......... Never has a basin been so deeply disturbing. And thats what is so deeply disturbing."
Such is the grave danger of being an art critic, attracting the acerbic attention of Private Eye.

Who is this Christopher Wool? He appeared just two years ago and no-one yet no-one had heard of him previously. So why does he command such astronomical prices? There is a very simple reason which the Jackdaw article illuminates and which has absolutely and completely nothing whatsoever to do with the aesthetic quality of his artwork.

Lastly this week there cropped up a very weird article from one Philip Hook (of Sotheby?) in the Independent which discusses weeping in front of artwork. The man writes downright creepy copy, vis; 

"A large number of the people who a generation or two ago might have taken their children to church on Sundays now take them to an art gallery instead. You see them, the well-intentioned classes, anguished by the same reluctance of their little Emilys and Caspars to appreciate the works of Gerhard Richter when chivvied into Tate Modern, as they might formerly have been by their failure to remember the words of the Nicene Creed when funnelled into pews. In Britain today, there is the same reverence accorded to the director of the Tate or the director of the National Gallery as used to be accorded to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York." 

The man is talking to Emily's and Gaspar's decadent parents of course and not the rest of us, who couldn't give a damn and the notion of giving the director for life (Sir Nicholas Serota) the same respect as the Archbishop of Canterbury is truly risible!

Art is not religion. Art is of far, far, far less real world significance than any religion. People do not kill one another for art!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Contemporary art - the weeks aberrations ?

This weeks news:

Damien Hirst has bought a 18 bedroom house in Regents Park for £24,000,000. He has also bought a whole street in Vauxhall to convert to an art gallery.

Britain’s most famous and, arguably, most controversial artist is to open his new public gallery, occupying an entire street in south London. Hauling his private collection out of storage – because, says Damien Hirst, “it feels bad having it all in crates” – the gallery will exhibit works by Francis Bacon, Banksy, and Jeff Koons, among others, as well as some of Hirst’s own pieces. The Vauxhall space will host 
over 2,000 pieces of art spread across six different galleries, and a café. “Collecting is the way the world works,” the artist comments. “I always think collections are like a map of a person’s life.” His will be on display from next winter, in Newport Street, Vauxhall

Feral pigeons by Banksy in Clacton cause big immigration row?

Firstsite an art centre in Clacton is closing for a while because of rumoured lack of interest and visitors to reassess it's future policies. ACE money wasted.

A Terence Cuneo 20x10ft masterpiece of Waterloo station from 1967 has been badly damaged by a careless scaffolding firm at the National Railway museum in York.

Rose Wylie won the John Moores - so please do have a look at the painting on her website. Rarely has one seen such inept and brainless efforts, says volumes about how far down we have dropped.

Artists are organising to demand payments under the artist resale legislation.  the problem is the secrecy surrounding the question of resale. Artists have to rely on dealers honesty to know about transactions, which of course begs the question of trust? 

National open art competition won by Mackie a painting of a caravan?. Prefer this one by another artist.

Bendor Grosvenor in Guffwatch got worked up about the winner of the Jerwood drawing prize in arthistorynews.com. As well he justifiably might do so, because the clowns who chose a sound recording to win a drawing competition need a serious phone call. Feel very very sorry for the other artists who paid to enter this dumb farce.

More dross public sculpture to be seen out and about:

Spike Milligan sculpture in Finchley by John Somerville. Never had respect for the old clown -  after he shot one of my students at FCHS with an airgun who had sneaked into his back garden to recover a football in the early 70's.

Liverpool public sculpture by Leonard Brown of the mythical Eleanor Rigby and another one by Tommy Steel - both of which are appalling rubbish as any sort of monumental sculpture.  Why do people seem to think it's ok to assume they are capable of doing this and compete with Michaelangelo, they don't pass themselves off as brain surgeons or nuclear physicists do they?

Finally this week saw in an ocean of contemporary art muck a little light in the dark.

Anne Desmet at Brooke graphics in Budleigh Salterton. She is a quietly understated printer who produces gems of real art.