As the last post of 2015 it is good to offer some cogent and relevant ideas about how confused the contemporary art Diaspora has now become, with a view to giving clarity to the uses to which contemporary art is now being put - apart from being good to be photographed standing in front of that is. With this in mind this is a list of links to desperate thinking that shouldn't waste anyone's time, apart from it's arcane future interest to sociologists.
What is certain is that very few people have no opinions about contemporary art and there are many hold it in utter contempt. This is rather sad, deliberately denying any aspect of your visual culture is unfortunate to say the least. Sport doesn't create this antipathy, it stays in the moment and it is immediately appreciable, - but it takes all sorts, as it were. Anyhow here is wishing you all out there a Happy Christmas and a very prosperous New Year.
This weeks Press contains some analyses of the best shows of 2015. A very poor year by anyone's standards but the highlight for many was the Ai Ai Wei at the RA. Why? I guess because there is so little acceptable art being produced in the UK, the operative word here being 'acceptable' to Arts council England, therefore media promotable. Yet there are thousands of good artists who are completely ignored and marginalised by the media.
Tired and emotional before Christmas? Exhausted by shopping and partying - well the Chapman Bros have come to your aid, with their online shop according to Jonathon Jones who is very keen to give them a commercial boost. Though what the products for sale have to do with Christmas is anyone's guess? This doesn't seem to have occured to Jonathon who writes:
"" One of the Chapmans’ most incisive ways of taunting their middle-class fanbase is to transgress modern ideals of the family. Jake Chapman caused a furore when he suggested that taking children to galleries is “a waste of time”. In that same anti-coddling mood, the Chapmans are selling a book called Bed Time Tales for Sleepless Nights – guaranteed to make children lie awake in terror through the holidays. Or perhaps in reality this is a book for adults. You can also buy their amended version of Goya’s Disasters of War for £20. Not one for the kids, that.""
Not one for Christmas either - So much for peace and goodwill to all men, more like self regarding negativity for the me, me, me generation of nil sensibility!
A German museum and gallery, the Riess Engelhorn gallery in Mannheim is suing Wikipedia for hosting 12 of it's images. Cannot profess to being surprised and first reaction was why has this not happened before?
"" While the REM is the first museum to sue Wikimedia over images of artworks, another institution threatened legal action over a similar situation involving many more images in 2009. At the time, US-based Wikimedia contributor Derrick Coetzee (who has since been banned from the site) had downloaded some 3,014 high-resolution photos of artworks in the collection of the UK’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) from the gallery’s website and then uploaded them to Wikimedia. While the NPG held a copyright to the high-quality photos under British law, it did not under US law.""
So it seems that if you are in the US you can do what you like with other countries images.
"" In a Communication on August 11, 2008, the European Commission wrote: “it is important to stress the importance of keeping public domain works accessible after a format shift. In other words, works in the public domain should stay there once digitised and be made accessible through the internet.” This was reinforced by the Europeana Charta of 2010 that reads: “No other intellectual property right must be used to reconstitute exclusivity over Public Domain material. The Public Domain is an integral element of the internal balance of the copyright system. This internal balance must not be manipulated by attempts to reconstitute or obtain exclusive control via regulations that are external to copyright ”".
Today also brings the obituary of Leslie Waddington who has recently departed aged 81. In his time he was a giant of Cork Street and held huge power over artists careers, any artist being picked up by Waddington had their career made. Just as significant was his exposure of the Dubuffet forgeries created by John Myatt.
One of the most depressing things about our alienated and nihilistic culture is the emphasis on natural science as the answer to everything. From education to religion all answers to every problem can be found in pseudo-scientific solutions. The world is now simply too complex for this superficiality. One gets tired of the aggressive loose thinking that promotes natural science as an all encompassing problem solver from atheism to consumer fetishism. It is refreshing therefore to read a book by Markus Gabriel entitled "Why the world does not exist" which has taken on the task of defining our perception of fields of sense, a philosophical catch all derived from Frege and Wittgenstein, with which he succeeds in redefining aesthetics in a remarkably fresh way. He should be compulsory reading for all art world movers and shakers, curators and artists who ought to have this text writ large on their walls.
" " It is profoundly incoherent to oppose reality and appearance by assuming that there is an aperspectival reality to which we direct our potentially distorting registries, in order to create perspectives onto things from nothing. Sense itself exists, it belongs to the objects just as much as the condition that the objects belong to the domain of objects. It is not external to the objects or the domain to which they belong. Whether my desk belongs to the field of sense 'imagination' or the field of sense of my office is a difference that makes a difference.""
So first define your terms of reference.
This week the Tate Britain is in the news: there's the Turner Prize which we need not bother about because the sanctified tosh being offered up simply is not art or worthy of attention, all pretentious non-art. Yesterday's decision to give the prize to a collective of architects further reinforces the relevance of the above cogent and apt text. Even Waldemar Januszczak in the Sunday Times, makes exactly the point that there is no art being offered as well as instructing the new director of the Tate (Alex Farquharson) not to make the marginalising curation mistakes of his predecessor.
He writes: " Apart from transferring the caption writers here to a job at the ministry of second hand sociology, and imposing a ban on the use of 'practise' and 'narratives' in your wall texts what you need to do in your shows, Alex, is remember that art is something you want to see, not read about. As Francis Bacon rightly put it, art circumnavigates the brain and appeals directly to the senses. So here's the secret of great exhibition making. Round-up lots of great art. Put is in the right order. Thats it. Anyway welcome to the job, your task is a fabulous one. Enjoy it."
Amen to that! lets hope those of us interested in Visual art will have reason to visit Tate Britain again.
At Sheffield Cathedral Jake and Dinos Chapman have hung a mutilated man sculpture upside down which is symbolic of suffering - superficially a very christian thing to do? The Very Reverend Peter Bradley, dean of Sheffield Cathedral, said:
"A lot of classic religious art shows images of really rather frightening violence, [such as] the crucifixion. But we don't notice that because we don't actually see it as violence. We see it purely as an illustration of a story.
"Some of these artworks invite us to reflect on violence, and violence in a religious context, in a new way, and that's strong, certainly."
Yeh but! No but! Yeh but! One can make a very strong tacit distinction between the redemptive religious message of a crucifixion scene and a secular sculpture that positively revels in depicting gratuitous mutilation but is essentially nihilistic. Strange that the very reverend didn't notice this.
Meanwhile in the Sunday press we have much about the Leonardo drawing La belle principessa that, it is stated is the work of Sean Greenhalgh the Barnsley forger. Surely anyone with eyes can see that the image is of a very contemporary girl, and not a 15th century Italian princess, besides it's condition is way too good for the 15th century and Leonardo just didn't draw hair as badly as it is depicted in this image. Niether did he cross hatch flesh by using single parallel strokes. As is often the case this probable forgery is a perfect piece of wish fulfilment, which is why forgers succeed in fooling experts. Greenhalgh says that he fooled the carbon dating tests by using old and ancient materials.
Then there is the return of Michael Craig Martin at the Serpentine. Adrian Searle's fawning article explains it thus:"The colour in Craig-Martin’s paintings, and the walls on which many of them hang, invites a kind of synaesthesia – a bodily, almost emotional tone that heightens the pitch and tenor of these mute, commonplace objects." This makes no actual sense, synaesthesia involves the confusion of the senses where seeing hearing smelling and touching get confused, presumable he means that the colours are smelling emotional?
And then this:" Anyone who looks at the world about them without flinching has got to be crazy. There are also those who are said to “get beneath the surface of things”. Better to focus on the surface. The deep will erupt anyway."
This is quite simply factually untrue. Craig-Martin's avant Garde is illustration, Patrick Caulfield did it far better and with a more sophisticated juxtaposition of differing graphic elements, skills and meanings.
Laura Cumming at the Guardian is more circumspect and quite accurate: "Craig-Martin is nothing like the late Patrick Caulfield, who used essentialised black outlines to elaborate an immense variety of visual, emotional and pictorial nuances. Here, the emphasis is on steady uniformity. Craig-Martin’s representation of objects is undoubtedly democratic – nothing is more (or perhaps less) important than anything else, everything receives equal treatment. But the consequence can be affectless neutrality."
then this: " Where once his painting of a sports shoe in lime and Schiaparelli pink might have appeared luminously strange, it now looks as ordinary as the shoe itself, available on the high street. The pleasure of the painting is slender enough; now it threatens to tilt into banality."
Meanwhile over at the Sunday Times, Waldemar Januszczak praises. He writes; " every electronic goodie is treated to a careful portrait as if it were something special when in point of fact everything on the walls is two a penny." So the work is now a critique of consumerism, is it?
Finally is the Alexander Calder exhibition at the Tate, moving around and around in small circles as it were. Nuff said.