Andre Wallace

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fraud and fakery

The news from the Frieze art fair was downgraded by a huge faking scandal emerging from France via Sothebys.
This is the exposure of a huge fake art scandal in the offing, centred upon old masters, this has emerged from France where some criminal has been making apt and apposite masterpieces for the market. It's generally assumed in popular culture that those who pursue this line of work, - that is faking great art have a great unrecognised talent and skills set. This is not the case, copying even with an average skills set is very easy as any artist will tell you. The difficulty that appears to have been well attended to here, is defeating the huge army of scientific and forensic test now available to experts, but because the rewards in terms of cash are so huge faking will always be an industry. A Sound documented provenance is everything when buying or selling art of any kind.

Stand by for some new revelations concerning rediscovered Old masters that were newly to the market. Although why? when old masters are so cheap compared to very expensive contemporary art, one would assume that new contemporary art would be a more financially rewarding area. But then there are all kinds of fakes and fakers.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Revisionist Wimmen artists.

So it's revisionist books promoting wimmen artists, because that's what the politically correct contemporary art press is banging on about this week, - books on Pauline Boty and Maria Abramovic both turn up in the Guardian weekend.
Ali Smith writes two pages in support of Pop artist Pauline Boty who died at the tragically young age of 28 in 1966. She found that she had cancer when she was pregnant but refused to abort her child by having chemo, a truly sad fate. Her paintings were stored away in her brothers barn for 30 years before their rediscovery around the turn of the century.
There is a deep philosophical problem with Pop art, it was an unquestioning acceptance and adulation of 1960's consumerism and it arguably created perfect conditions in the 1970's for the imposition of Charles Saatchi's dominance  of contemporary art.  He saw fine art as a resource to plunder and exploit for the use of the advertising industry. This has been very well documented as has the decline of the avant garde. But truth to tell, Boty's painting and collage had an undertone of questioning and dissent that was lacking in the work of such luminaries as Oldenburg, Peter Blake or Richard Hamilton. 
Ali Smith asserts that Pauline Boty was the first and only British artist who happened to be a woman. This is nonsense, there were hundreds of women artists around even major ones such as Ann Christopher, Louise Bourgeois  or Barbara Hepworth. Continuing in the same vein he writes this copy: " Boty became one of the earliest feminists to do what would soon become a feminist device: use her body as a vehicle for her art , posing in front of her works for the photographers who had been sent to the studio to to shoot the anomaly of a female artist who was also a stunning blond." 
Then this tripe: " when she arrived at the RCA it was as a student of stained glass since women in the early 60s had little or no chance of getting into the school of painting." 
No-one had any chance of getting into the RCA painting school in the early 1960's because they only took six to nine students in a year, four of which were foreign. One really wonders what kind of great artist she would have become if she had not died such an early tragic death, and how she could have rewritten the entire history of Pop art.

But when are the Guardian, with their constant over enthusiastic promotion of all that stinks in contemporary state art, going to apply some rigour and discipline to their pen pushers produce?

Which brings us to the most over-hyped non visual artist in existence Maria Abramovic - the grand diva of using her body in pursuit of art, and an article by Simon Hattenstone promoting her book memoirs. We read in the exploration of her relationship with her former partner : " The defining moment came when Ulay walked up and sat opposite her (she had invited him, but didn’t know if he would come). She reached across, took his hands, wept, then closed her eyes. It is a profoundly moving moment, one that has been watched more than 14m times on YouTube." Yeh sure man very moving private grief! but what she amounts to as an artist is a Tracey Emin without any art object production, purely issue presentation and celebrity. However you cut it, Pauline Boty could paint.

Then there is this very odd art history tome for Christmas - "The Art of Rivalry"? As Rachel Cooke writes;  " But these things don’t entirely compensate for the sense that Smee, the winner of a Pulitzer prize for his art criticism, is sometimes only going through the motions – particularly so in the case of the rather breathless essay on Matisse and Picasso, which never seems to do much more than skim the surface. All in all, it feels rather forced, bolted together: a book that didn’t need to be written, and thus doesn’t always demand to be read." Damning art book promotion indeed.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ebacc to the 1880s - 3

The decline in arts education provision continues with the UK news that A level History of Art has gone down the pan and is now to be abandoned. It's easy to overlook that these decisions are in the hands of people whose choices leave a lot to be desired.
Having done A Level and Scholarship level History of Art in the 1960's, now having to cope with sadness at the destruction of art education for purely ideological reasons. The art schools provided a pathway for all sorts of misfits and eccentrics to achieve something in their life, even to out and out create the pop music industry, so they now have to go! Dumping art education on Universities and closing the rest destroyed their creativity and autonomy with the result that the UK now has little serious higher art education worthy of a future.
Waldemar Januszczak in the Sunday Times writes passionately in support of art hstory; "  What's really happening is that the collapse of educational values is happening on our watch. And during this collapse of values, the understanding of our history through art - the best and truest understanding that there is viewed as a distraction. It doesn't lead to a job." - " Art history is the most revealing window we can open onto the human condition."
The academic teaching of the history of Art has a long and distinguished tradition in UK schools where it was taught as an addition and adjunct to history precisely because it deals with the real world as it was, with real visual evidence about real people. It teaches you how very similar to yourself they were despite their mean and short lives, as Waldemar points out - how do we now visualise Henry VIII except through Holbein's depiction of him.
The past is now seen by this technology based, childish, immature culture we inhabit as something to be dismissed as totally irrelevant, despite it's urgent real life application and relevance. The truth is that the past was in many ways a far better place than we have now, and the study of art history is a measure of the civilisation that we are throwing away in pursuit of web based ignorance. Education is both innovation and conservation, things have to be conserved for their intrinsic value or we descend into rapidly into the State that the middle east is in.
It's very easy to destroy the thin veneer of behaviour that is a civilisation, art history can at least teach us that, you only need to look at Picasso's Guernica or Goya's war images. Again and again we stand back and fail to speak out when these really stupid decisions are made.  Ignorance is very, very cheap, it costs nothing to pursue - except a future life worth living.

As Izzy Renton wrote in the Guardian ;" Undermining visual analysis in a world where young people are attacked by visual propaganda every day is short sighted. If anything the tools of visual criticism should be offered sooner to all."
Perhaps that puts the finger on the real motivation of the government, more effective propaganda is required. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Picasso Portraits

This week Waldemar Januszczak and Laura Cumming are both discussing the superb Picasso Portrait exhibition at the National Portrait gallery. An exhibition not to be missed for the amazingly varied visual range that's on view.

Laura writes; " In fact, the show is a true liberation from art-historical constraints. Its curator, Elizabeth Cowling, urges us to view Picasso as an actual man rather than an avant garde deity. She has assembled nearly 80 portraits from every phase of his career – blue period drinkers, cubist flâneurs, opulent nudes, caricatures, late self-portraits – in a condensed retrospective that fills the entire ground floor of the National Portrait Gallery. Nor are these pseudo-portraits, like the Tate’s Weeping Woman, lacking any sense of individual presence. Each image has force of personality, no matter how remote from conventional likeness."

Quite which goes to prove how people no longer look at visual images or observe what's in front of them. Waldemar happily points this out with this remark; "  And how the shifting between moods and personas was achieved not by changing poses or capturing expressions or controlling the light, as others did it, but by brilliantly innovative mark making - in Picasso's portraiture message and manner were fused in a way that was ultimately unique."

Mark Hudson at the Telegraph is more blinkered in his reponse; " But there are marvellous things all the way through, more than enough to make this one of the year’s must-see shows. You leave astonished at Picasso’s near-miraculous ability to make lines, colours and brush marks do absolutely anything he wanted."

Christine Temple at the Guardian is downright amateur in her wordy criticism; " He did not use his visual and tactile memory to produce exact copies of what he had seen. He changed them into something new, combining the originals with other ideas and influences. Just not good enough.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Turner prize 2016 - 2

Laura Cumming in this weeks Observer has come up with a critical piece attacking the current Turner Prize for it's routine staidness and predictability.
She writes; "Some say we should wave farewell to the Turner prize with Nicholas Serota’s forthcoming departure. But the prize is as tenured as an emeritus professor. Too many reputations depend upon it, and it remains Tate Britain’s compensation for being demoted by Tate Modern. Its format, however, should change."

This is truly relevant, reform of the judging for the prize is long overdue which is very ironic considering how the art world is always banging on about freedom of expression, challenging, shock values etc, all the repeated tired old sores. Yet here in the centre of our visual culture with Frieze opening this week there is politically motivated total stasis. Art is now a form of entertainment, the 'art' as in high aesthetic and artistic values has gone, been replaced by a funfair ride through vague amusements.
As Adrian Searle comments in the Guardian; "These thoughts had me pressing the buzzer next to the ornate bronze elevator doors Ryan Gander has installed in a wall at Johnen Galerie. “Elevator to Culturefield,” reads the sign. But the doors don’t open and the lift is going nowhere. It is nothing but a dream of escape. There isn’t one.""

Nor will there be anytime soon, as an artist your only ethical choice is to work with the actual future in mind and ignore the fatuous glitter of a very tired vacuous Post, post modern art world. Winnowing is all, and truly inevitable.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Turner Prize - really?

Ebacc to the 1880's - 2

This blog does tend to point up the decline in arts education and with good reason. The shortsightedness of politicians and Ebacc curriculum planners is doing a huge disservice to the UK's children who will desperately need a creative subject for their future career pathway. So they will be no longer able to pursue art, drama, music or dance at state school because of the current incumbents concern to downrate the arts as inaccessible to the lower orders. The decline is already in progress, take up of arts subjects has declined by 7% this year alone. When will people become aware of the fact that the subjects that they are forcing the UK's children to study now are going to be totally irrelevant in the future, if the promises of Artificial Intelligence are achieved. What person in 2080 will have a need of an academic background, unless of course they become unpaid drones sustaining an artificial culture run by machines and a power elite. Write to your MP if you care about the average state educated child and write now! Of course it's possible that the future, will be far worse in every way than the present slow cultural decline, international problems are not going away anytime soon.

To lighter concerns It's that time once again and the Tate has unveiled it's 2016 Turner Prize exhibition. According to Edward Lucie Smith it is recovering it's relevance, well - if only that were true. There is a long way to go yet before the gritty problem of the content of contemporary art is addressed in both the art market and in art education. If it ever will be?
Which funnily enough brings us neatly to the Fourth Plinth whose most recent contributor is this chancers contented joke. The renowned Jonathan Jones of Guardian state art support at all cost, wrote this non-sense; " Are we all modern Stalins, an inane public demanding that artists grin and smile and affirm that life in Britain is really good? David Shrigley's thumb is so pleased with the way things are that it wants to jab God in the eye." 
So much for an expensive history education at Cambridge - which leads to writing such as this! Never will understand why the Guardian is such a hard boiled supporter of everything that is truly pathetic and very impoverished in State art. 

Arts Council England - are you the right kind of artist?

This week brings the news via Private Eye would you believe, that ACE are employing a commercial company called Counting what Counts to use a quality metrics system to assess whether you are the right kind of artist or arts organisation to be funded by their beneficence .....  
This is courtesy of IT buffoons at Nesta, (a self perpetuating quango that should have been put down long ago for all the asinine pretence of good that it has done). Downright stupid and totally misconceived, one has to ask how the use of this sort of faux utilitarian data profiling  will get anywhere near assessing the quality of future artworks?
It cannot do so, simply because the judgement of any artwork is totally subjective and the result of a highly developed sensibility born of years of experience. It will only ever be capable of making judgements based upon the prejudice of the algorithm writer. The bean counters however are set to generate some very righteous anger from those arts organisations and artists who will inevitably resent faked attempts to evaluate their work, it's easy to see trouble brewing - blood will be on the carpet. This is not to say though, that the Arts council's largess has ever been prioritised for artists who produce real art. 

As Private Eye says; " The pilot study carried out by CWC claimed resounding success - but then they would say that, having received a substantial chunk of the more than £700,000 of public funds already invested and facing the happy prospect of all those individual £2000 fees. An independent evaluation conducted at the same time was far more critical, noting the hostility of the arts organisations forced to deal with it. Those organisations are now asking hard questions about CWC and how it has been handed so much power and money without any tendering procedure."

ACE has never really had to account to the tax payer for all the money it burns on the thankless task of maintaining the wholesale pretence that is UK State art. Gross example - The millions of tax payers and lottery cash it burned on cultural Olympiad conceptual junk which produced absolutely zilch of significance or material benefit for the UK.