Bring back Gary Glitter and Jimmy Savile!

You see, we must divorce the output from the creator. That an artist abuses children is a bad thing for the children, the artists and quite possible even society. But it makes no difference to the art:

Where, I wonder, will this investigation end? According to what I read, the Tate is also considering the \”wider ethics\” of showing work by Ovenden, and until this review is complete, these 34 prints \”will not be available to view by appointment\”. Wider ethics. What does this mean, exactly? It sounds a touch North Korean. Let\’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the images in question do not portray Ovenden\’s victims. What then? Will the Tate return them to the public view? Surely it must, for if it is unethical to show work by a paedophile, what are they going to do about all the other artists who had dubious sex lives? Unless, of course, this rule only applies to perverts who are living.

It\’s baffling to me, the belief that art must be \”ethical\”, as if it were so much fair trade chocolate. It\’s so much more complicated than that. The laughable idea that it can pass or fail some kind of tick-box test! What was art in March must surely be art in April. You can\’t un-art art, though Hitler had a go, when he decided that what was modern was also degenerate and set about destroying it and, far worse, those who made it.

Therefore Gary Glitter\’s pop songs stand entirely apart from Pal Gadd\’s ephebophilia, Jim\’ll Fix It is entirely different from Jimmy Savile\’s groping and mooted raping.

Of course, this isn\’t how it actually turns out. We\’re all still urged to enjoy the work of Eric Gill while the appearance of a Jimmy Savile puppet in a rerun of an 80s show causes front page headlines about the damage done to children.

Should be said that this isn\’t particularly limited to artsy types. We all will make the distinction: private lives are private lives for people we approve of, evidence of how we should reject all for those we don\’t. You know the sort of thing: Stalin gets a pass on killing the bourgeoisie because killing the bourgeoisie might be a good thing, while Hitler doesn\’t get such a pass. Although, given the current anti-smitism on the left I wonder how long that\’s going to last?

47 comments on “Bring back Gary Glitter and Jimmy Savile!

  1. I think you are also missing the point about the Guardianista elite’s view of Art. Ovenden and Gill were “artists” – one of them, in other words; Gadd and Saville mere populist entertainers.

  2. Well, this is the nature of a witch hunt. You throw out rationality and, in our case, revert to more primitive eras of civilisation; the mediaeval, the register of banned books, or, perhaps, the Classical and its damnatio memoriae and defacing old pharoahs’ hieroglyphs.

    This is madness. One may presume, or hope, that some decades hence people will look back aghast at it, and say, “how did this happen?” and, perhaps, some Prime Minister will mumble apologies for actions by people long dead, or something like that.

    But really, it’s just mad. How many of these convictions are based on real events, it is impossible to know at this stage. We’re just heaping up pyres, throwing men onto them, and old ladies bustling about shouting “roast chestnuts!” and, honestly, barking mad.

  3. With the puppet thing, does anyone know if Jim liked having someone’s fist up his arse?

    Tate’s probably taken the paintings off display because otherwise some witch hunter will throw paint on them.

  4. Therefore Gary Glitter-s pop songs stand entirely apart from Pal Gadd-s ephebophilia, Jim-ll Fix It is entirely different from Jimmy Savile’s groping and mooted raping.

    But do artists works always stand apart from their child sex offenses? I am not entirely sure if that is 100 percent true of either Savile-s or Glitter-s work. The revolt against the Puritan past was a revolt against the Puritan past. That Puritan past included premarital sex, but it included a lot more than that as well.

    It was not until the Conservative Christian Right began to fight back that Gays and the Left began to distance themselves from paedophilia – there are simply too many examples of people aligning themselves with the paedophiles for it to be a co-incidence. Presumably when the American Psychology Association published an article saying that child sex abuse produced no discernable damage in most children they knew just what they were doing.

    To take one example, Pier Paolo Pasolini-s life’s work is surely an attack on those who would attack him for his interest in teenage boys. It is not incidental to it, but central.

  5. It was not until the Conservative Christian Right began to fight back that Gays and the Left began to distance themselves from paedophilia

    This isn’t really right. The paedopanic is a curious concotion of christian fundamentalists and radial feminists. While it seems the “right” first had the idea (SRA, etc), it would have got nowhere (beyond the Bibble Belt) without campaigns by the Radfems for whom it dovetailed perfectly with their belief that the male gender is a rape conspiracy.

    In other words, the Feminist “left” drove this thing. It is worth adding that only the “Left” had the media reach, particularly via bullshit TV like Oprah, and only the Left had the connections with social work. Without all that, it would have remained a minor conspiracy theory for the nutball fundies in the States.

    Taking one particular example, Janet Reno built her career on it.

  6. Ian B – “While it seems the [right] first had the idea (SRA, etc), it would have got nowhere (beyond the Bibble Belt) without campaigns by the Radfems for whom it dovetailed perfectly with their belief that the male gender is a rape conspiracy.”

    You know, I might agree with that. Not merely that being male makes you a rapist, but that everyone-s Father turned out to have raped them. The idea of suppressed memories provided them with a perfect excuse to get even with their parents and excuse their own personal failings by blaming someone else.

    So the question is how should we respond to an artist whose sexual preferences are both vile (or at least unpleasant) and central to his or her work? I am not sure ignoring it is a bad response.

  7. The Sage – “They-ll be coming after _Alice in Wonderland_ next, mark my words.”

    I think they have got there already. They have these wonderful new editions where Alice turns out to be a kick ar$e warrior princess.

    It could be worse. I was reading the Jungle Book the other day and it turned out to have a very nice character called Lucy, the Forestry Officer who explained the importance of global bi0diversity.

  8. SMFS-

    Well, I blew my libertarian credentials earlier by saying I wouldn’t let you burn to death, but in an attempt to get them back I would suggest that the only response in a free society is as individuals to not look at art one dislikes.

    A person has a right to imagine and artistically articulate things which, if done, would be illegal, immoral, repulsive, etc.

  9. I’ll also stick my neck out and say that from what I can read between the lines, the mutaween were determined to “get” Ovendon for something or other and, having failed to get the art itself prohibited, found some allegations against the man himself.

    I have no idea whether or not he is a vile molester, but my general position is that in the current situation there is so much falsity about that we cannot trust court convictions. As with the bizarre allegation cloud around the corpse of Savile.

  10. Not to mention that we’re having this discussion in the same society that thinks a picture of Jesus soaked in piss is art.

  11. Art is in the eye of the beholder. And the beholder has loads of opinion as to what they like and why. It is hardly ever about the quality of the artwork. That’s why stuff by Tracy Emin gets lauded but stuff by Jack Vettriano is panned. Who did the art is very important.

  12. This just the insufferable i’m so much more sophisticated that you argument, lefties love.

    Obviously the Hutton virtue is missing here.

  13. Even people beating up on Savile and Gadd are beating up on the work. Cultural elitism comes into play.

    We know that certain famous, culturally significant pop stars shagged underage groupies in the early 70s. But no-one is beating the drum calling for their arrests because they are culturally significant. Glitter isn’t. He made mostly populist trash that will be forgotten. Even before his arrests, you’d admit to owning a Sweet or T-Rex record before a Gary Glitter one.

    Roman Polanski, on the other hand still gets people like Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet to star in his films, despite being a fugitive child rapist.

  14. SBML>

    What utter rubbish. Vettriano isn’t even a talented illustrator, let alone an artist of any merit. You can go to any school in the country and find more talent in the GCSE exhibitions. To describe his desecration of good canvasses as equivalent in artistic merit to kindergarten finger-paintings would be to do a disservice to the naive impressionism kindergarten children are naturally capable of. His work is most interesting when freshly completed, because at least that way you can watch the paint dry.

    Emin’s work, whilst mostly not actually attractive, is undoubtedly genuine art. To take her notorious bed as an example, if you accept the concept of found art at all, you must accept that she was entirely correct in realising what a powerful portrait of a person their bedroom actually is.

  15. Dave, you nearly got me :-)

    But then again, both are very successful, in different ways. Vettriano selling tons of his paintings and Emin getting tons of money for her art.

  16. There’s a bit of a difference with Jimmy Savile. His TV performances were part of his grooming, so they’re pretty creepy. “Virgin at 14? Jim’ll Fix It!” But then again he wouldn’t be the first artist to use his medium to attract partners of dubious legality.

  17. SBML>

    ‘Got you’? I’m not sure I follow. I was being entirely serious. Ok, at least sixty, seventy percent serious. Vettriano is to art what Ritchie is to economics. It’s deliberate rubbish designed to take money from the gullible, foolish, or ignorant.

    Emin’s work isn’t particularly to my taste, and arguably isn’t particularly good art. That it is actually art, rather than mere decoration, though, is unquestionable.

    I can’t say I’d like to wake up to an Emin every morning, but if it was a Vettriano work I think I’d rather not wake up at all.

    Tim adds: Much of Emins’s work is about exactly this point:

    “Emin’s work isn’t particularly to my taste, and arguably isn’t particularly good art. That it is actually art, rather than mere decoration, though, is unquestionable.

    I can’t say I’d like to wake up to an Emin every morning,”

    That of the men she tried none wanted to wake up to an Emin every morning.

    Tsk.

    But that a not good looking woman is also not a good lay or cook is hardly art, is it?

  18. Dave, well there we are. I thought you were joking. I couldn’t see anyone thinking Emin’s work being worthwhile in any way. I have not met anyone who liked her stuff.

    So it’s just goes to show. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In my view Vettriano’s work is easy on the eye and proper art. Emin’s stuff is pretentious crap.

    When artists who do things like paint only blue squares are seen as having some wonderful insight then you know that art is stupid and the emperors new clothes has come true.

  19. Vettriano can draw and paint.

    Tracey Emin can neither draw nor paint. Nor sculpt, nor does she exhibit any of the artistic skills.

    Here we see the definition of Art==Not Art. A is not A. And there madness lies. And, the deliberate destruction of culture and the aesthetic sensibility.

    It is my view that those who cannot appreciate beauty are doomed to an ugly society in every way.

  20. Well, how are we defining art? To me it means more than the merely decorative. Whether Vettriano’s work is decorative is a matter of taste, perhaps, but I can’t think of any meaningful definition of art which would include his work. There has to be something there for the mind as well as the eye (or ear, etc.)

    As far as basic draftsmanship goes, Vettriano is, as I said, of GCSE standard. Or at least his work is, although perhaps that part’s as deliberate as the kitsch subject matter and compositions. Emin is undoubtedly a talented draftswoman, as is immediately obvious if you ever see any of her early drawings.

    Basically, we’re just getting the standard collection of justificatory myths from people who won’t engage with modern art. ‘Oh, they can’t really draw’. ‘Artists who do things like paint only blue squares are seen as having some wonderful insight.’ It’s all nonsense.

    Of course lots of modern art is crap art, but it’s art nonetheless. It may well be that it makes you think something trivial or boring, and also isn’t very good to look at, or intriguing to the eye. At least it attempts, though, to make the viewer think about something rather than just look at an image. Can you honestly say anything of the kind about Vettriano’s work? Or is he really just a creator of small areas of very expensive hand-made wallpaper?

  21. Emin has no draughting skills at all. I have studied her drawings (due to discussions like this, mainly). I speak with some expertise because I, too, am a crap artist. As such, I am intimately familiar with the stereotypical errors that bad artists make. All bad artists seem to make the same errors; presumably due to the basic neural wiring of the brain. Emin makes those mistakes. A good artist, even when trying to draw naively, doesn’t, just as a good musician pretending to play badly cannot help doing so in a skilled, artful way (think, Les Dawson’s glorious “bad” piano playing). Emin makes those errors.

    Vettriano’s figures are, at least, soundly drawn. The same is not true of anything Emin has ever committed to paper. In the most basic sense she simply cannot draw.

    Another good example of this is Roy “Ripoff” Lichtenstein. This page-

    http://davidbarsalou.homestead.com/LICHTENSTEINPROJECT.html

    shows his paintings against the comic panels he stole. In each case, the Lichtenstein drawing is inferior, displaying the same “can’t draw for toffee” errors. In particular, his ravaging of John Romita’s beauty aesthetic alone deserves some barbarous, mediaeval punishment.

  22. That link’s hilarious. There’s nothing inferior about Lichtenstein’s versions, they’re just different. Incidentally, the entire fucking point of Lichtenstein’s first comic-book pieces was that his kid said ‘bet you can’t paint as good as that, dad’ whilst looking at a Mickey Mouse book.

    Go on, criticise Duchamp’s draftsmanship as well. As the creator of arguably the first piece of truly modern art, he ought to be the prime target of your criticism – but of course that doesn’t work, because he was obviously a brilliant painter as well as a great artist. Instead, you’ll just focus on minor artists of no great merit, because of course one can easily pick holes in their work.

  23. Ian B – “Well, I blew my libertarian credentials earlier by saying I wouldn-t let you burn to death, but in an attempt to get them back I would suggest that the only response in a free society is as individuals to not look at art one dislikes.”

    Indeed. But what should a museum do? I think that perhaps in these cases there is a sensible response which is to withdraw the art from public view. Perhaps we can have a museum of Degenerate Art although the last time someone tried that it did not work out well.

    I might also say there is another response which is not merely to avoid looking at it, but to condemn as well. We do owe other people something, and we do contribute to the general atmosphere of society. I would prefer if that general atmosphere said that sleeping with young Thai boys for money was morally wrong. But then I am not France-s Culture Minister.

    “A person has a right to imagine and artistically articulate things which, if done, would be illegal, immoral, repulsive, etc.”

    True. Although the Marquis de Sade is pushing it. I do not think that porn that does not involve actual people – cartoons for instance – should be banned. I do not think harm has been demonstrated. But on the other hand I think people who think Salo is great are sick. And never get me started on Peter Greenaway.

    11 Ian B – “the mutaween were determined to [get] Ovendon for something or other and, having failed to get the art itself prohibited, found some allegations against the man himself.”

    He undressed young girls and painted them with blindfolds on. I am not sure what the actual allegation against him is, but this in itself seems a little strange to me. I assume they did not have to go far to find a complaint.

    “I have no idea whether or not he is a vile molester, but my general position is that in the current situation there is so much falsity about that we cannot trust court convictions.”

    That is true. Given Recovered memories do not exist. It is an absurd witchhunt that future generations will look back on with puzzlement. But that does not mean there are no real sexual predators out there.

    12 Ian B – “Not to mention that we

  24. SadButMadLad – “Art is in the eye of the beholder.”

    I am not sure I agree with that. Art speaks to something in human beings so that we can recognise great art in other cultures even though we do not speak the artistic vernacular of that culture. Everyone would agree that some of the Japanese palaces in Kyoto are great pieces of art without having to actually have much knowledge of Japanese culture.

    What has happened is the aggressive rejection by the Art Establishment of anything that might speak to ordinary people for an odd sort of Gnosticism – you are “artistic” if you can recognise the secret language of the art work that most people would just call ugly.

    15 The Stigler – “Even people beating up on Savile and Gadd are beating up on the work. Cultural elitism comes into play. We know that certain famous, culturally significant pop stars shagged underage groupies in the early 70s. But no-one is beating the drum calling for their arrests because they are culturally significant.”

    Indeed. David Bowie has no problems coming back to this country. Jimmy Page played for the Queen. And yet Roman Polanski better not set foot in this country. Sometimes a little bit of puritanism is a good thing.

    16 Dave – “To take her notorious bed as an example, if you accept the concept of found art at all, you must accept that she was entirely correct in realising what a powerful portrait of a person their bedroom actually is.”

    That does not make it art. Emin is a hack with good PR. Which is pretty much all that modern art is.

    22 Dave – “Emin is undoubtedly a talented draftswoman, as is immediately obvious if you ever see any of her early drawings.”

    So was Dali. But they both chose to do otherwise.

    “Basically, we-re just getting the standard collection of justificatory myths from people who won-t engage with modern art.”

    There is nothing to engage with. I like David Goldman’s comment that the reason modern art has a larger audience than modern classical music is that you do not have to sit through two and a half hours of modern art. You look once at the painting and you move on. Thus proving your elite cultural status. No more.

    “At least it attempts, though, to make the viewer think about something rather than just look at an image.”

    I am not sure that they are making anyone think about anything. This is just the usual justificatory myth from people who want to demonstrate their SWPL credentials. In reality these works are vacuous. If you insist on projecting meaning on them because everyone else says they have meaning, well, good for you. But that is still a comment about you and not a comment about the art.

  25. Dave, with all due respect, if you cannot see the inferiority of Lichtenstein’s copies, you really cannot have much of an ability to judge drawing skills in general.

    See, it isn’t all subjective and in the eye of the beholder and all that. What is most pleasing, what one most likes, that is subjective. But the actual skills are of a much more objective nature. Lichtenstein was simply lacking the skills an artist needs. He couldn’t draw as well as (most of) the illustrators he cribbed from; this is especially noteworthy considering that he was a “fine” artist drawing one image at a relaxed pace, whereas the illustrators were drawing many panels on a tight schedule.

  26. Ian B,

    We don’t have cultural destruction. What happened with gallery art is that new art forms of cinema and advertising attracted talented artists, and as a result, left a vacuum in gallery art that was filled by cranks and charlatans.

    And it’s no co-incidence that art in galleries was pretty much over by 1940, which is about the time that filmmaking had fully matured and was making art. You get past Hopper’s Nighthawks and what do you have? Chopped up sharks, piles of bricks and pop art. People will still be looking at Caravaggios after that lot have disappeared into the trash.

  27. Ian>

    We’ll have to disagree on the Lichtenstein work. I’d say you’re mistaking deliberate simplification for an inability to replicate.

    SMFS>

    “You look once at the painting and you move on.”

    That’s pretty much the distinction I was drawing between decoration and art – although it applies much the same to distinguish between good and bad art. Really great art is something you can sit and look at for hours without being bored.

    You’ve said what you think art isn’t, but would you care to tell us what you think it is? What is it that differentiates painting a wall from a painting on a wall?

  28. but would you care to tell us what you think it is?

    Skill. That’s it. “Art” is simply skill, applied to painting, drawing, sculpture and the like. Artful is simply a synonym for skillful, as in Artful Dodger. It has never meant anything else.

  29. Ian>

    In that case, what’s the purpose of art? You’ve avoided answering the question, to my mind. But then, it’s that kind of word, isn’t it – I suspect we’re starting from such different places that even our definitions make little sense to each other.

    Either way, the ‘artful’ as in ‘Dodger’ doesn’t mean that at all. It’s not merely that the Dodger is skilled in dodging, but that he raises it to an art-form by giving to it something which may be appreciated by a (hypothetical) onlooker.

    Isn’t that the whole point? We call a skill art when it is raised to such a level that others appreciate it – which is to say that they appreciate something more than the mere crafted object itself.

    Are we being metaphorical when we speak of a skill being raised to an art?

    Do you have another word you’d use for what I’m trying to talk about?

  30. Dave,

    I’m not avoding answering anything. That is my answer. “Art” merely means a high level of skill, and in this context means as applied to useless aesthetic things like pictures. It is only in the past century that anyone has thought it might mean something other than that, when modernism and the associated fine art movement(s) arose, for whatever reason they did. The general public mostly still do think it means just that. A good drawing is one that is skillful, a bad one is one that is not skillful.

    An artist may choose any subject, but to demonstrate that they are a good artist they will choose something difficult to show their skillfulness. A subject which requires no skill cannot demonstrate that skill, and so cannot demonstrate that they are a good artist. For instance, I remember seeing in a corporate suite some “naive” art that I initially thought was the product of the child of some doting executive, but then realised with sadness was “fine” art.

    It was indistinguishable from the creations of a five year old. It showed no skill. It was not, by definition, artful.

    Now anything may be *aesthetically pleasing*; natural forms, a pile of garbage, a galaxy, anything. That is entirely in the eye of the beholder. So we when ask whehter some art is good, we cannot be asking whether it is pleasing, because there is no way to judge that beyond “Well, I like it”. So when we ask what is good art, we ask if it is skillful. And, Caravaggio had that skill and Emin has not. Good art is good art even if nobody likes it. They can still recognise the skill that created it.

    That is the only measure we have.

  31. Artsy types have all this argument sorted by being conversant with the critical theory around the subject of Authorial Intent or Wimsatt’s Intentional Fallacy.Funnily enough this tends to be in rough agreement with what Tim said at the start of his piece ,despite his reflex, populist dig at artsy types to keep his followers happy ,who become confused and disoriented when he comes out in favour of LVT in combination with Citizens Income ,(artsy type supreme Ezra Pound only favoured the latter not both). The more I have to do with Economics the more I find Literary Criticism to be an exact science by comparison. At least Lit Crit recognises that language has only an arbitrary relationship to reality.

  32. Modern “art” has a fine purpose. It’s just great to have original, unique, and inexpensive stuff on canvas on your living room wall. Most of us can’t afford Caravaggios and Canalettos. We can’t afford Emins and stuff either, but there are tens of thousands of people turning out derivative works using oil and acrylic and canvas.

    And it really doesn’t need that “artistic merit”. It just has to look super-cool on your wall at home, in the way a framed print never can.

    The artist doesn’t need to spend months labouring over the details, putting in fine brush-work. If they did we wouldn’t be able to afford it. Modern art is simply Industry 4.0 – the efficient production of unique or small-volume things.

    And once we shuffle off our mortal coils it can all go in the skip.

    Mostly, modern art is indeed nothing more than moderately expensive wallpaper. Most of it has no place in galleries, or selling for millions at auction houses.

  33. Artsy types have all this argument sorted by being conversant with the critical theory around the subject of Authorial Intent or Wimsatt’s Intentional Fallacy.

    Right. So they invent a whole bunch of self-important pretentious bollocks to explain why us plebs can’t understand the self-important pretentious bollocks that they call ‘modern art’? Private Eye’s YBA cartoon strip has this skewered.

    when he comes out in favour of LVT

    And you keep trying to pretend you’re not a mono-maniac?

  34. Dave – “That-s pretty much the distinction I was drawing between decoration and art – although it applies much the same to distinguish between good and bad art. Really great art is something you can sit and look at for hours without being bored.”

    Well in all fairness I would get pretty bored looking at the same Caravaggio over time, and not much time. But I would come back.

    However what I mean is that listening to modern classical music is positively painful. That is why it does not have an audience. Looking at a lot of modern art is also painful. So no one looks at it. Whatever else you might say about Botticelli, his work is not painful to look at.

    “You-ve said what you think art isn’t, but would you care to tell us what you think it is? What is it that differentiates painting a wall from a painting on a wall?”

    Not much, or rather the difference is one of degree, not type. A great painter needs, in my opinion, to demonstrate a certain level of skill. Not in and of itself, but in order to have something to say. Not merely provide a blank canvas on which we can project whatever we like, but to tell a story, to demonstrate subtle technique, to have a conversation with the audience while at the same time being aesthetically pleasing. Ms Emin’s bed is stylistically limited, she has nothing remotely interesting to say and her work is ugly. Hype and PR, not art.

    34DBC Reed – “Artsy types have all this argument sorted by being conversant with the critical theory around the subject of Authorial Intent or Wimsatt’s Intentional Fallacy.”

    Which is to say it is SWPL in that it attempts to draw a line between the Enlightened Upper Middle Class and the Great Unwashed Middle and Lower Classes through a system of esoteric Gnosticism that is open to the Elect and is signified by the reversal of all common sense norms – what is beautiful is derided, what is ugly is praised, what is good is condemned and what is evil is worshipped.

    But in fact it is a load of fetid dingo-s kidneys.

    “(artsy type supreme Ezra Pound only favoured the latter not both).”

    Along with gassing Jews.

    35JamesV – “It just has to look super-cool on your wall at home, in the way a framed print never can.”

    Modern Art never looks super cool. Teenagers just think it does.

    “Modern art is simply Industry 4.0 – the efficient production of unique or small-volume things.”

    You would think that a reproduction of Michelangelo is as cheap and easy to get as a reproduction of Manet or Dali, but one does seem to be a lot more common. But perhaps it is the people I hang out with, but living room decoration seems to me to have been exported to the Third World. It is all Moroccan knick knacks, and Balinese face masks, and African wood work. But that sort of proves the point – no one likes modern art.

    “Mostly, modern art is indeed nothing more than moderately expensive wallpaper. Most of it has no place in galleries, or selling for millions at auction houses.”

    Charles Saatchi moved on from tossers like Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin, so he offered a job lot of their stuff to the Tate. The Tate turned them all down as worthless.

    Who would have guessed?

  35. I think that ‘great art’ needs to demonstrate three things:

    1. Creativity – derivative works that don’t really add anything are unlikely to be great.
    2. Technical mastery – the artist needs to be able to much-better-than-competently express themselves in their chosen medium.
    3. Call to something in the human spirit.

    For me, Emin sometimes manages to achieve 1. Vettriano certainly manages 2, has managed 1 on occasions (although he is, for sound commercial reasons, self-derivative. As were many lauded artists – remember there are quite a few versions of “Vase with Twelve Sunflowers” about) and for some people manages 3.

    I’m afraid for many of our so-called ‘artistic elite’, all that is being called on, by the tat they laud, in the sorry rags that pass for their spirits is their rancid sense of superiority over us plebs.

  36. @SMFS,

    There is quite a big market out there in what I as an art know-nothing would call modern art paintings. Hand-made brushstrokes on canvas. Absolutely tons of stuff in the

  37. ~ €1000 bracket. And people buy it, and put it on the wall at home. There is no pretence that it’s anything great or profound or conveys hidden “artistic” meanings, or anything more than decor ultimately destined for a skip rather than a gallery wall. Or that it took the artist more than, at the outside, a couple of afternoons to bash out.

    And really, it does look cooler having a canvas with hand-made splodges (the thicker the better) by some unknown jobbing artist on the wall, than the alternative which is either cheap prints or dreadful choc-box stuff. At least my inner teenager thinks so. De gustibus etc.

  38. Ian B has got this right. Anyone who has ever attempted to draw or paint themselves knows that it is skill that matters, you can be as creative and groundbreaking as you like but if you’ve no talent you won’t achieve anything worthwhile. My theory of modern art is that a great many of its practitioners are without this skill and know and resent it, they wish to create and be noticed and conceptual art is the only opportunity they have for achieving that. Which also explains the psychodrama which goes with so much of it, it’s all saying “look at me, please”. David Thompson’s blog does an excellent job of mocking this nonsense.

  39. I’ve never got this “chocolate boxey” dismissal. It always reminds me of that sixth form phase where you dress in black and never smile at anyone because it’s uncool for some reason to display positivity. The hugely talented Norman Rockwell was dismissed as chocolate boxey, apparently because he wasn’t negative enough in his subject matter.

    One of the few pluses of getting older, for me, has been being able to be geunine emotionally, and to be able to enjoy sentiment, instead of having to go “oh god, you should be listening to the new Morbid Foetus album” or whatever. Can’t help but wonder if the problem with the modernists is that mentally they never leave the Sixth Form.

  40. It would certainly explain why Emin thinks other people are interested in her tawdry sexual history.

  41. I suppose Emin has a desire to prove there are men out there who are prepared to have sex with her.

  42. @SMFS#37
    Not sure Pound favoured gassing Jews .Please provide evidence.(Its what artsy-fartsy types do :back statements with quotes, examples ,even facts and figures). Pretentious “scientists”come up with bollox like the Black/ Scholes formulae on the pricing of options and corporate liabilities which promptly went tits up causing a major Economic panic.This won the Nobel Prize!!Then there’s the Gaussian Copula Function.And all those wet behind-the-ears ‘quant jocks’ trying to devise algorithms to explain the free play of numbers that the Autistic Science (Sorbonne students description of the Economics they were taught) has become.It is the pretensions of science minded Economists that have rendered Economics a laughing-stock, claiming to follow the scientific method when nobody can use a whole economy for an experiment, the results of which can be repeated .

  43. Dave – “That-s pretty much the distinction I was drawing between decoration and art –”

    Fascinating to see the distinction.

    That pretty well rights off the whole of classical art in one sentence. It had only one purpose. Decoration. Michaelangelo was asked. “How much to paint that ceiling, Mick?”
    Yes. It informs, delights, inspires. That’s the effect. But the intention was to fill spaces.

  44. I find some of these comments interesting. The point has been raised several times that good art is skillful art, showing that an artist has had some minimum of classical training. I take exception to this. As a culture we seem to have outgrown the need for art to be functional or iconic in any way. This is for many reasons: we have largely replaced portraitists with the camera, and no longer need religious or ceremonial art. For a long time only a classical training defined an artist. Those days are well and truly in the long and distant past.

    However, that said, there is a problem with our definition of ‘art’ and ‘artist’. Why should obvious non-artists producing non-art slip through the net? The litmus test for me is neither skill but the skillful portrayal of an idea by an original means. I suggest this is a better definition of art than what we have currently. The current definitions of art and artist by the way are purely market-driven and based on peer acceptance. The latter wouldn’t be a problem except they tend to be old folks trying far too hard to appear hip and youthful, as a consequence of which they get milked by expert social networkers. Social networking experts penetrate a scene, or a museum or charity’s culture, and befriend people within it. Then they get their stuff (anything at all) displayed, and manage to sell their works for exorbitant prices based on having been featured in a famous gallery. This is a con game not art.

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