Andre Wallace

Monday, September 19, 2016

Paeans for Sir Nicholas Serota

Last week brought the news that Sir Nicholas Serota is moving on from the Tate empire to chair Arts Council England.
The press has been full of praise for the way in which he managed the growth of Tate  Modern to become the foremost Museum of Modern Art in the world (sic). This has been achieved by putting popularity in front of any notions of artistic excellence (as is usual) and he has truly been responsible for inflating the reputation of some particularly dodgy excuses.

That said there has been one faint voice of dissent - that of Waldemar Januszczak in the Sunday Times. He points out that he was the right man in the right place at the right time, that he, in conjunction with Charles Saatchi opened up modern art to the common man and populism. What he doesn't mention is that Saatchi's keen interest in art was never disinterested. His intention was solely to bend  fine art art to serve the interests of his advertising industry and in this he succeeded. Lately it hasn't worked so well, because his utilitarianism shot the golden goose in the art education head. You cannot educate fine artist to do anything apart from make art - all other is design. Art students are now asking to be taught how to paint and draw properly and they won't be washed off with any excuses for conceptual art. It was of little or no co-incidence that the aesthetics of 'art' got lost and destroyed along the way. Maybe as a final funeral service over the entire dark plot, we have the BBC promoting Conceptual art on channel four this week. Is it not time to grow up and move on? Is it not? Some of us we are heartily sick to our stomachs of boring recycled conceptual fake non-sense.  It cannot be said loud enough, Dada was antique infantilism,  rich kids ostensibly kicking against WW1. The real men - Orpen, Bomberg, Clausen, Wyndham Lewis, Nash, Nevinson, Stanley Spencer, and Eric Kennington made their art work on the bloody western front, not among New York socialites.

Waldemar writes; " With subtle nudges of the tiller, Serota had turned going to a modern art gallery into an experience not dissimilar to going to a family amusement park. So, yes, he's a magnificent Establishment operator. That's why making him head of the Arts Council is such a good idea."

Subtext, it is supremely important that contemporary art is held in a very safe pair of hands. Because those artists, well they might get up to anything? They might start dealing with issues that matter like Politics, Syria, food banks, global warming or immigration and such, and we can't have that subsidised by the public, now, can we? So lets keep it meaningless and empty shall we?

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