Whispers

Whispers
Andre Wallace

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Revising recent art history

This week a purely revisionist piece of retrospective art history at Tate Britain has cropped up disguised as art criticism from Adrian Searle. It is hyping a show of revisionist curatorial desperation intended to give added legitimacy to conceptual art's history. Such slight concepts as the pile of sand by Barry Flanagan ( concept of questionable origin) and the pile of stacked oranges by previously unheard of Roelof Louw. Inevitably art and language crop up, essays by Kosuth of doubtful validity and a rehash performance of underneath the arches by the usual suspects. All very tired, tedious, tendentious and pretentious. 

One paragraph struck home forcefully for an unintended joke:

"At its worst conceptual art in Britain was as doctrinaire and stultifying an influence on young minds as anything else, badly taught. Working one’s way through these contradictory approaches as an art student in the early 1970s was difficult and confusing – you were constantly up against the problem of intractable differences and impossible choices. We muddled through." 
Sure we did and then threw the whole pile of pretentious meaningless twaddle into the bin whence it came with it's supporting specious continental philosophy in favour of empiricism. You know where you are with empirical evidence.

One thing remains that is vividly illustrated here, there is not one lasting, significant piece of work to emerge from the entire 1960's rehashed heap of Neo-Dada. Not even a one that says anything visually significant about the human condition.
Searle concludes:  " 

"At best, all art is conceptual, and all exists in a political context. Which doesn’t mean it has to be framed in an exhibition as bleak and pleasureless as this."


Then there has been new effortless promotion of the usual suspects. Elizabeth Fullerton in the Guardian of 16th April writes two pages of hype for her book "The story of Brit Art" explaining the role Charles Saatchi played in their creation and promotion. She finishes the article with this :  “If you talk about pop art and minimalism, abstract expressionism, and then you look at the time frame, what’s really shocking is it was five, six, seven years and then that moment is over,” says Schubert. “What’s extraordinary about this one is that it carried on for the longest time. It feels like nothing has taken its place. Now that’s an odd phenomenon.”

Really, a very predictable outcome? One wonders what could cap the YBA movement in tastelessness? All conceptual arts progress seems blocked by the Chapman bros Hell.
Francis Morrison writes: " Education: that’s the most important thing that wasn’t there. It has to be central. If we don’t have a proper visual arts education, all the other things that we are told to do, like diversification of our audience, will never happen. We won’t have a diverse community of curators; we won’t have a gloriously diverse cohort of students at art schools. At the moment, our audience has for the most part received some sort of visual art education. It is a scary idea that over the next 10, 20 years, as young people encounter museums for the first time, they won’t have had that – apart from the ones that go to very privileged private schools. And I think that is really tragic.”

Yes quite! but is it not all interconnected and interdependent?


Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Columbia university

This morning's Guardian contains an article that demonstrates academic intolerance. It seems that some students at Columbia university object to the installation of a Henry Moore sculpture on the grounds that it will despoil their precious academic environment. These petition creators – Jeremy Liss, Alex Randall, Daniel Stone and Hallie Nell Swanson – reportedly said in an op-ed for the school newspaper: the Columbia Spectator, that the sculpture “suggests a dying mantis or a poorly formed pterodactyl”. Now that is news!!!!
The Protesters also expressed anger over how the installation of the sculpture was announced.  In a blogpost by Roberto Ferrari, curator of art properties at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. “Either those responsible for this move were oblivious to the significance of this decision, or they wanted to preclude any discussion of it,” they wrote. ""The opinion piece has angered commenters, who referred to the authors as “lunkheads”, “entitled little shits”, and “spoiled Columbia nitwits”. "
But one wonders seriously how these "students" attained such an immense  sense of hubris that they believe that their aesthetic judgements should really be considered.
Jennifer Wulffson Bedford, an art historian working at the Rose art museum has said: “Gathering signatures agreeing that a sculpture is unattractive in the opinion of the signatories does not in any way translate to the sculpture not being an excellent addition to the campus, both in terms of aesthetics and, more importantly, to its teaching of the humanities,” Quite so, but the sad reality is that she has actually had to state this to support of the university's decision to exhibit the sculpture.