Whispers

Whispers
Andre Wallace

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.

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