X-Factor for art – the arts devalued


Charles Saatchi, the Citizen Kane of the art world, is about to transform himself into the Andrew Lloyd Webber of art.

A new BBC2 series, site Saatchi’s Best of British, will see him preside over a contemporary art reality show, comparable with Lloyd Webber’s I’d Do Anything. Talented hopefuls (I’ve put that phrase in as blog-fodder …) will attend his “intensive art school, where they will be tutored by top contemporary artists.” The show will “attempt to discover the next Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin.” Well, I don’t suppose anyone would expect it to discover the next Cy Twombly or Jasper Johns. Continue reading…

I cannot really add to this ..the final nail in ‘brit art’ seems like a good comment to make..note the ‘judges’..they not artists of any worth just spurious artists-cum-celebrity types I expect..Creed, Emin, whatever…step forward for some exposure as your sales plummet darlinks…

It time all of this sh*t was bagged up and tagged with its true nature..i.e. it celebrity compost nothing more…

The saddest part is that those who pretend to know what they on about i.e. Arts Council and various arts organisations are terribly impressed by all this ‘exposure’, they long ago gave up pretending they could invoke any form of standards so now we have no common principles to work to..so quality and talent are jettisoned for ‘fame’ and joke opportunism like this.

Nothing here wasn’t flagged up long ago by the Saatchi website….if you allow people with no values and no taste to dictate to you then you get the artworld you deserve.

I for one long ago stopped playing in the saatchi sandpit and looked to people with true value to provide a deifferent definition of ‘standards’. Sorley Maclean in poetry, Howard Hodgkin in painting, Ken Loach in film there plenty of real artists around just they haven’t been much favoured in Saatchi Land’s carnival of minor celebrities……people of substance….not telly addled clowns…

For those with short memories there was a hilarious version of art school where various ‘intellect-challenged’ Chelsea School of Art scenesters tried to teach various celebrities to make art…a forerunner of this barrel-scraper of an idea…..

In that show such ‘artists’ as shown below changed the art world forever 🙂

Looks like this will be much the same…..i.e. rubbish

At least John Humphrys said what he thought….doubt if anybody in Saatchi Show will…oh and BBC2 as well- What a shameful waste of taxpayers money sayeth the man on the Battersea omnibus…if you don’t succeed give up next time and save us all the effort….

Five celebrities – John Humphrys, Ulrika Jonsson, Keith Allen, Clarissa Dickson Wright and Radio 1 DJ Nihal Arthanayake – are filmed taking part in a two-week crash course in fine art with tutors from the Chelsea College of Art. The series culminates in an exhibition; Winkleman’s role is to interview them throughout the fortnight.

Yes the artworld is waiting with baited breath for the shows judges to be revealed……

Here my betting slips…

Hester Von Blumenthal the III

fresh from revitalising Little Chef the cheeky chappy from the fat duck shows that the thin line between art and fine cookery is non-existant. Hester reveals that his whole premise for being a chef was it a stepping stone to being the greatest artist since Hogarth….his crispy fried duck will be shown at next year’s Venice Biennale as an example of site-specific cuisine..

finally the greatest artist in the world…..yes Rolf Harris ( 2009 before his sojourn in prison mind) will down tools for a second. Long enough to bring a much needed sense of tradition and actual technical ability to bear on our assembled ‘conceptualists’ , ‘site-specificers’ and ‘film makers’. Rolf will show them the correct end of the brush to use in episode one before doing an in-depth anlysis of the horrors of sable hair-plucking in a co-production with the RSPCA. Chanel Plus and some Tokyo cable channel.

I also hear there a famous surprise guest….yes….after disinterring Picasso’s bones his corpse will be ‘re-animated’ by forensic scientists in a tie-in with Waking the Dead. It is hoped that Picasso’s involvement will bring a much-needed sense of dignity to the show.

It rumoured that the winner will get to produce a family portrait of the Saatchis ‘en plein air’ like Stubbs…..a treat indeed

keep watching punters it can only get better from here on in….

Recession TV and Bankrupt ideas .com copyright all rights reserved….


Waterlogged: Surrendering the Physical Space

Response to Waterlog: Fables of the Saturation (Saturn’s Rings)


The Collection Lincoln.

Running from September 15 to December 16 2007, rx this group show featured new commissions by seven leading artists, all on the theme of the water drenched landscapes of the east of England.

In particular, the film, photography, sound and text works are inspired by the writings of WG Sebald in The Rings of Saturn. In the novel, the German-born writer describes a (fictional) walking tour in the East of England, where he lived for more than 20 years.

What follows is part review, part polemic written after viewing the show on Monday 24th September 2007.

Surrendering the Physical Space

Third area triumphalism: sponsored by Ace East Anglian Regeneration and Film and Video Umbrella + etc and so throw back to 1970’s and 80’s. – who makes ‘videos’ any more? Work that looks good on the internet or in theory but lacks depth in practice. Worst culprit Finlay and Guy Moreton = bad photos + bad concrete poetry = good art..so we are told….

More panning shots = film and ‘authenticity’ – landscape photos that make up in scale and printed ‘quality’ what they lack in composition – cf. Raymond Moore….no contest this is ‘illustration’ that all.

Spurious commentary, faux text art, limp ideas conceived as mediocrity piggybacking on other artists e.g. let’s throw a few references to Benjamin Brittan in. Indeed only the bell-ringing piece reveals any kind of purely aesthetic plausibility. Tacita Dean’s ‘art-umentary’ was unavailable but looks like more post Taylor-Woodisms…probably post Arena solipism. Leave it to the professionals. Two artists implicitly quote Michael Hamburger as subject – again hoping he will provide intellectual ‘ballast’ for shaky boats they are floating?

Is this the ‘High Water Mark’ we are seeing of a certain kind of modern irony (post -anti -recycled- ironicism at that). Concrete poetry, deadpan documentary – the assimilation of ‘museum collection’ pieces (Pope) which trade faux morbidity and memorial incompetance for genuine creativity. Pseudo-memory tricks and use of ‘real’ people on trips around Lincoln may set up nicely the next funding opportunity angle but says nothing about the actual area..historical skimming…internet knowledge substituted for depth and reality.

A landscape without a landscape…..

A quick check reveals that all the artists ‘involved’ in project have no real connection to the landscape..less in fact than Sebald himself…truly OUTSIDER ART…..playing to gallery and patronising to locality and locals.

The waterlogged Raft of The Medusa a la Gericault.

Compare with a ‘real’ memorials like the USAF bomber crew signatures on ceiling of the Eagle, Cambridge or Swan at Lavenham.

Sebald’s oblique desire to get at the ‘truth’ is acknowledged as being ‘unobtainable’.

These artworks are imitative, illustrational and sometimes simply non-sensical….but they act the part proffering a oblique sense of their own worth as ‘art objects’ no matter that their formation based on pilfering and quotation not inward depth.

When the physical nature of an art/i/fact is surrendered totally to intellectual ‘re-fabrication’ the fabric itself becomes immaterial (literally) – disolved and drowned in dissonance and (dis)illusion.

A fish viewed through water offers us a mangled image. These are waterlogged ideas…weighed down by their own conceits and leaving no room for trancendence or fulfillment.

We emerge exausted as if having clogged our way across a muddy field. Saturnation.

For a very pretty website which applauds itself throughout go to…


Stuck in the past? : Serota and Stuckists

As a professional ‘misery guts’ and also a professional creative I somehow come from both sides of
the argument at the same time….

Having taken all that bitter rant to a new location by transforming it into the artwork itself how thendo the more scathing of the above commentators ( especially the first past the post nocturnal expert who has little else to do) going to react to venom as art?

Probably not all that well and…..oh dear there I am again consigned to the scrapheap of irrelevance in the archive….nothing new there sweeties…

I brushed up against Charles and his mob early on and indeed went to the show near Liverpool Street. The arguments were sound the art was not and I thought then it lacked technical ability and no fruit of the Vine has convinced me it has changed since…sorry Charles. Saatchi accomodated it and removed its sting by snatching at the Vine and the Tate and Serota can now easily brush it aside like flies off a Hirst.

Serota created a marketing opportunity by driving up South Bank retail activity on a scale that has lead to similar schemes across the country. From an economic standpoint he a genius and deserves all he gets.

His Tate Boredom is less successful despite the hype which must be maintained to justify the rash of similarly blighted projects across the country now the ‘extra cash’ in the punters pockets not jingling so freely.

Some things it does well…some things badly. The John Lewis food halls with ‘artistic’signatures and the badly hung floors are one side of the coin…the Twombly the and Fred Williams the other. …one thing one cannot accuse Serota of is not knowing his art though.

The Stuckists have always had an eye for the PR opportunity ( very new-Tory there) and JJ you have sadly served their purpose well again as the replies show.

There are larger problems with the intrinsic structure, nepotism and wholescale destruction of value in the art world. Solid scholarship and sound criticism have been all but undermined by the flush of cash. Catalogue entries became advertising jingles…..movements became PR stunts….artists became curatorial pawns in a heady dance on the ashes of skills and tradition.

That is the real rot in the barrel of plenitude and splendid aisles we now traverse.

I sometimes dream of another art world where Jopling and Saatchi never appeared where Artscribe and Modern Painters and Peter Fuller did not cease to exist in a vibrant,  critical form. An art press not dependent on favours, nepotism and Gucchi adverts. Of course it just a dream….a fantasy…

Values are such unfashionable things and can blight ones career so badly…

Until then I will continue to seethe in the wings with all the other poor failures and provide such good copy for the metropolitan elite with their effortless superiority.

Or maybe just maybe….there is truth in our reality somewhere after all……an uncomfortable truth those who have most to lose should the rules change…would rather ignore or disparage…

There’s the rub methinks….

self promotional link follows….


after all no criticism ever hurt as much as being ignored…..

Bacon and hash….

Comment on Jonathan Jones blog entry ‘Francis Bacon: The man’s a bloody genius’


I was so dazzled by both the myth and the man that I tried to be him for a brief few years in 1980’s before the fever lifted. I’d agree that he not better than Matisse or Picasso that a given ..I’d also add not as good as Braque whose interiors have a similar constrictive space.

What I loved then and still love whilst not being as mad keen on the actual works ( Kossoff and Auerbach have more essential ‘positive’ humanity in my opinion) is the fact that he lived and breathed painting and nothing else..no conference meetings. no academic puff, no phd madness…just art.

In my opinion Bacon and School of London will still be there on the art world timeline in 100 years time long after the fin-de-siecle speculators wet dream of YBA and Brit art has been erased totally.

NOTHING and I mean nothing produced by a ‘British’ artist since 1988 can come close in quality, depth and essential ‘meaning’ to Bacon. He was not the catalyst for these pretenders to throne he was their nemesis..they were beaten before they started.

Hirst recently praised Bacon ( a sixth-former’s reading will lead inevitably to the flies…oh the horror, the horror) but dismissed Auerbach showing that he knows no more about painting now than when he painted a cat all those years ago…Hirst cannot paint any more than Jade Goody could have been a conceptual artist (although who would say she not more savvy than Emin?). To hint at Goya, Schiele and Bacon as precursors shows the so called geniuses of Brit Art way out of their depth.

Bacon is a triumph and stands alongside them rightly and the Tate show will prove that. What we have to endure in the Tate Modern as representative of British Art since does not..time to paint out that horrible starbucks hoarding of artists signatures or at very least remove a few ‘pretenders to the throne’.

In sequence…Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Bacon…..yes….

Picasso, Braque, Matisee, Bacon, Hirst, Emin, and Opie for god’s sake…

‘Yer having a laugh Nicky baby’?

wine with your fries?

The New Victorians


Dear Gentle Reader

It may have come to your attention that I have been less than impressed with what the Arts Council, viagra Academia and artists in general have come up with in the years that I took a Rumpelstiltskin-like snooze from the ‘Contemporary Art’ scene. I’d say my detour down the highways and byways of literature and music coincided with my moving to Edinburgh in 1993 coincidentally just as the ‘BRIT ART’ boom kicked in on the ‘paved with gold’ streets of London (how many ‘Brit Artists’ are actually from outside London is a sore point the further North one travels).

Now there are many in Nottingham and further abroad who will not like the tone nor the content of the following piece but that hardly my concern. I have watched the efforts of the good and great of this city to ‘rebrand’ ‘hype’ and generally convince themselves and others that there some kind of ‘art boom’ happening here. This has been co-ordinated and reached its culmination in the frankly damp squib Brit Art Show of 2006. My contentions then were expressed in a piece written for The Nottingham Evening Post but declined by that august journal as being a little too ‘off message’ for a city still hurting from the ‘binge-drink’ and ‘suicide art’ fest the local and national press had visited upon us. For people’s information I and many others feel far safer in Nottingham than we ever did in parts of London like Harlesden where I once resided. Nottingham was unfairly slated and I do not want to add to the harbingers of gloom there. However hand in hand with this there seemed to be a blind devotion, click especially amongst those parties with most to gain, to talk up our wonderful art scene.

That the majority of people with most to lose were middle-class arts administrators and community arts people was not lost on myself or a good many others. The actual artists remain the most unrewarded and badly treated group in amongst all these ‘parades’ or as I believe better titled ‘bread and circuses’ of recent times. A year on and because of the double blow of central government arts funding cuts to pay for the Olympics and more local ‘housekeeping’ – i.e. if you want a shiny new arts venue (CCAN) you have to lose your only two significant contemporary arts venues in the meantime. Costing approx 13 million quids it seems pretty good value seeing as my little old hometown of Didcot in Oxfordshire is spending 7 million on a simple arts centre. Suddenly cutting edge and feted architect for £15 million plus (it always goes up) seems a bargain..shame most of it will be hidden under a hill then…

for full bill see arts council document

A year on and those who gained most from the Brit Art show have either moved on or are busy re-casting their Arts Council evaluation forms to convince their patrons of the whole shebang’s worth. Major art events have always been a stepping-stone for the sharp-eyed arts administrator to ‘progress’ which usually means taking what they can and getting the hell out later. For those who want to criticise this contention I’d point to stints at Festival Hall London and watching Southern Arts in Oxfordshire as proof of this in the past. One poor old helper in my little old home town (now site of that brand new arts centre I mentioned) was moved to brand this activity arts ’empire-building’. Nothing is ever likely to change there especially with less pots of gold to administrate. My point is not that this practice harms the local ‘art economy’ but that generally it hardly ever touches the life and soul of our poor local artist. For him or her life remained pretty similar i.e. plenty of cheap factory space to ‘practice’ in but nowhere to actually sell or exhibit.

Nottingham is blessed with a thriving ‘creative industy’ apparently and indeed there is a plethora of studios and artists all beavering away courtesy of a depressed property market and a manufacturing industry which collapsing and providing new spaces every week. With all this cheap space one of the overwhelming achievements of the East Midlands Arts Council has been to never furnish artists with a decent exhibiting space (Angel Row’s Parade was too little too late) which would have come at little cost if commenced years ago. Instead noble projects like the Oldknows Gallery (closed 1995) were ‘let go’ and funding when it did return in the ‘golden shower’ of the lottery was diverted to those most savvy at form-filling and buttering up or bamboozling their ACE officer with artspeak ( for general public this is known as bullshit). Instead of a vital and artist-led space we got a hundred projects ranging from the blindingly dull and stupid to the quite good. The artist’s talents were immaterial as tickboxing ensured target audiences and other such claptrap obscured whether any of this was actually any good at all. The same can be said of the arts demon twin ‘community arts’. The number of ‘hoodies’ and ‘alcoholics’ saved by t-shirt printing and rapping would, if you believed art council evaluation forms, mean that there were no social problems left in the city at all such has been there impact. As Jonathan Meades pointed out recently in his T.V. series no amount of ‘juggling and street theatre’ ever stopped people drinking themselves to death or pissing in their estate stairwells.

One of the great lies of the whole ‘community arts’ industry is just this. I salute Gordon Brown for axing the golden eggs for some of these organisations which were no more than scam machines that bled European funding directly into the pockets of well off middle class administrators and managers without ever touching the lives of the people it supposedly was meant to change. It smacks of the Victorian ‘do-gooding’ and temperance societies with no amount of evangelical artists armed with knitting machines, paper mache masks and digital cameras saving people’s souls.  The importance of this industry was not its outcomes at all but was how extremely good it was at papering over the social ills that still affect us and  keeping a good part of the ‘chattering classes’ quiet or at least funding their sons and daughters whilst Blairism privatised national assets and participated in doubtful wars. It is not coincidental that the more frugal Brown hit the ACE bill first…..even before stepping into power. As Blair stood in a gallery and boasted of funding the arts in a typical piece of doublethink to caress his bruised ego over Iraq those who were in the know could see the cuts coming.

So what are we left with post-Blair, post-funding ( these measures may get worse if spiralling costs for the 2012 Olympics take hold as they surely will?) Do we knuckle down and celebrate our ‘thriving international’ art scene and join in with the ironic ‘national debate’ on funding and the Arts Council just as they debilitate most of its funding? Of course we do – those artists still operating in a financially restricted climate are more circumspect than ever at speaking out in case they lose what little nectar left in the ACE flower for the little hummingbird’s beaks.

What artists are loathe to do (having forgotten how to) is join togther and use that reduced budget wisely and for the common good. After twenty years of competitive arts council funding applications where one group was set against the other collective action in art circles has become a dirty word. This has lead to some of the less scrupulous artists grabbing as much funding as they could by constant ‘reinvention’ and form-watching and some of these even attained a certain ‘glamour’ for their ability to do so. When art students leaving college are impressed by such activities and are not even considering the trivial and amateurish nature of what that money used to fund we are in a bad place. Thankfully as real-world economics and the pot of gold at the end of the overseas student rainbow diminish even the Academic world is coming to its senses.

In this environment where ACE funding reduced and its laughable ‘hands-off’ ‘democratic’ policy re. artistic merit is exposed for what it truly is i.e. a means to reward those most able ( pace the middle class on hospital services, property and just about everything else) to access that funding then maybe ‘artistic meritocracy’ might actually be reborn.

Casual feminists and those with hands on tiller of power will argue that any notion of ‘elitism’ (their words not mine) or artistic standards smacks of a paternalistic and Oxbridge dominated art world of yore. Well yes it was just such types that invented the Arts Council. I think more sense could be got out of that old group…Raymond Williams, F.R. Leavis and Philip Larkin for instance ( yes all men but I’m sure there a A.S.Byatt for every John Carey there too) instead of the pc focus groups and research students who will lead the forthcoming ‘debate’ in London. A debate further more that only those able to attend two nights in London and pay fares down can attend ( refer to the Brit Art comment and  the north above..plus ca change) of course even here Orwellian doublespeak is at play as some ‘invited attendees’ will indeed be paid to attend. Every one is equal but not that equal then…..

To me the whole debate is irrelevant for the real power is in the former chancellor’s hands and thrifty as he is when he notices that nothing appreciable happens to the great and good of this island without funding and indeed he may never return that largesse to its former proportions. A damn good thing too in my opinion. A conservative estimate of 6 billion pounds was distributed by the Arts Council in the last ten years (if somebody has actual figure I’d be pleased to alter it). If that money had ben invested in the NATIONAL health service not PFI’s with lovely batik and textile strewn corridors, if that money had been directed to skilling large swathes of under-employed working class male youths instead of frittered away on self-aggrandising art schemes then maybe the country would be in even better shape than it was twenty years ago. My father was a lowly builder but a keen observer and he noted how many people on his daily travels were sat in warm offices administrating things whilst there fewer and fewer skilled labourers to do the basic jobs like sewer maintenance and cable-laying….those jobs now done by ‘imported’ (legal or illegal) labour. As the middle-classes bathed in the Blairite benefits be it PFI management blowouts or arts council jollies abroad the working class slipped lower down the economic food table to the point where some actually fell below the table-top.

I have no time for the apologists of the Blairite regime they have done very well from those years and with escalating property prices have never been better off. The net effect of this has been a ghettoisation of our cities where these people have walled themselves into whites-only comfortable estates whilst the rest…black, asian, bottom rung whites are left to flounder. Significantly it just these groups that no longer represented at the educational establishments. Grant cuts (thanks Tony) and failed schooling have meant that many of the groups I and a lot of my fellow students in early 1980’s came from – white working class and ethnic minorities – simply have no chance of getting to university. This has reinforced the class divide and barring the occasional very gifted student (Hirst and Emin take a bow) this cultural apartheid has got worse.

The majority of arts graduates ( have a look at facebook for a snapshot) are now white middle-class and/or new rich and female. This has had a major impact on arts administration posts (Arts Council but one amongst many) and the kind of people who can become artists. Social groups bind like to like so the more middle class women become curators and even those not enthused by self-fighteous feminist idealism will be default tend to employ, show…and yes debate with like minds and social group members. Perhaps the Arts Council should do a survey of class background instead of tickboxing ethnicity and sexual orientation. Because this process is well advanced and even the most ill-equiped have used it to progress up the academic ladder it will be a major problem to try and put right this nepotistic and classist impulse in the arts.

Artists and ‘cultural producers’ are notoriously opinionated that their ‘ways’ right and can manufacture quite successful ‘in-groups’ that exclude others. Sometimes language and background are signifiers that lead to this exclusion before a picture painted or a book written. Good people have worked hard to stop this but it still exists as long as we live in a class-based culture which we do. Sorry Tony your only revolution was to replace one elite with another looking and speaking the same. In other words there was no New Labour revolution at all. In fact this chimes perfectly with the Saatchi driven Brit Art revolution which also was not New or British or particularly revolutionary unless being beholden to a full-on capitalist advertising executive who good friends with that old Queen of Art funding Margaret Thatcher was what left-leaning artists had dreamt of all along. Funny how a wad of cash can silence the most ‘political’ of artists when they see the palm crossed with silver. Bell and Langland….socialism is only skin-deep then..

Brit-Art, Lottery funding, Hubs of excellence…the hype merchants can spin most of the last ten years into a veritable art banquet. Nothing could ever dent this facade of artistic wellbeing could it? That is one version.

My version is slightly more jaundiced and maybe the truth somewhere in between. What is true is the arts schools facing a funding crisis, artists ..community or otherwise (those who lucky to have cadged any that is) are facing a funding crisis. Here in Nottingham we have a rather splendid council who funding not one but two major art galleries with the noble intention (as revealed by new manager Alex Farquharson) of ‘creating a regeneration alley through a moribund city and promoting shopping’…I kid you not we were all sold a pup it isn’t about art at all…so blockbusters it will be and lots of London advertising to draw social groups A & B here to shed lots of cash on our poor huddled masses. One could truly not make it up……when did digital installations and site-specific projections become the generators of high class shopping experiences I wonder….or maybe they were all along and those of us who thought art meant something and had intrinisic value were just deluded. On a side-note the advetising for CCAN awarded to Fresh Communications ( see the news document credit) who proudly re-launched Paddy Power recently….seriously…..it all fits.

Last year’s mighty ‘Underscan’ flop was just paving the way…. no pun intended our lucky Mexican-Canadian artist pocketed over £100,000 for showing pictures on the pavement which but a small part of the consultants fees for setting it up…).Little did those leery chavs pissed  up on white stripe on their way home realise that the projections they vomited and pissed in on the way home were  not art but forerunners of this years talking surveilance cameras and £500 fines for dropping a cigarette. Art as social control and intrusion and cutting edge technology ..the boundaries of where artwork stop and social engineering start have been blurred…those lacklustre community artists trying to stop some poor begger pissing his  life way were just the forerunners after all of something far more sinister. It is not such a giant leap from potato prints and grafitti murals to directed ’employment’ and state surveilance after all….is it.

Meanwhile those artists stupid enough to plow on with redundant technology like pencil, paint and brush can have no part in the brave new world of ‘spectacle’ and circus. As long as it cleans up our city centre and pushes the human trash out of sight it worth backing….it must be the consultants told us it was for the best and no-one argues with a consultant.

In Apocalypse Now there a famous scene where the Marines shoot up a civilian boat. then medics go in to repair the damage. Its described as ‘machine-gunning’ a people in half then administering a ‘band aid’. That in my opinion is what new developments in Nottingham will do to its art scene, and I not alone, when CCAN and Art Exchange are finished the same ‘able’ few will coin their shining coins and the rest will be given band aids. It is a salutory lesson in misguided interventionism. Everybody has right intentions. Ask Tony..he had more than most….

Arts Hub Column August

I am contributing a column to Arts Hub Uk website here the latest

July 31, medical 2007

Empty Skulls and Pearly Kings


Another week of sun and Moogee may start dog-bathing again. Meanwhile the shower of marvellous art continues to drench us with facts and figures. Mr.Hirst (Moogee’s favourite artist) has seen fit to make some headlines (with a little help from his overactive PR dept.) by releasing a diamond-encrusted bonce. Said Pearly Bling has made many column inches and left people in no doubt that we witnessing the greatest living artist since…oh Rolf Harris I’d guess. That the bonce is tarted up with a batch of sparklers of indeterminate lineage ( pace Clive James in BBC article) we are left to wonder at the beauty of the artifact. A noble addition to the fake skulls that the Incas knocked out circa 1952 this latest ‘zeitgeist trembler’ is as good as anything the Hirst as ever done i.e. it’s not very good at all. As if by a miracle (or tie-in) David Beckham dyed his bonce in hommage. Moogee waits with trembling paws for the Becks and Posh his and hers diamond skulls to be ‘released’ soon.

Apologies for older dogs who may think artworks are ‘shown’ or only emerge fully formed from artist’s studios. Nowadays artists ‘release’ works in the same way as the latest fashion line hits Top Shop (Kate Moss or Frida Khalo?). Some of this may stand test of time but as that smart old dog ‘Ozzer’ Wilde said ‘Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.’

 So it good to know that Hirsty has already knocked out a second Fish in a tank to keep the market bouyant. Expect a Top-Shop Emin Tent soon with back page adverts in Sunday Times and how long before individual Mark Quinn blood heads will be sold as Blood bags for hospitals as part of yet another PFI initiative to ensure that dying pensioners see great art as they waste away in corridors. Yes life is consumption these days and a big Woofy yes to the show and tell generation.

Thank god the art world has cleansed itself of those dour old duffers with their paint smeared hands and anti-social graces. A skull is worth a hundred Howard Hodgkins or Francis Bacons because all that depth and intensity and craft just got in the way of a good headline. You cannot expect your average Oxbridge hack to delve deeply into the artist’s psyche as they wolf their dinner down in Grouchos can you?

Thankfully Warhol and his comedy offspring Gilbert and Sullivan (sic) were here to save the artworld from meaning. Better a hundred photo rehashes by some tired old pearly kings desperate to be asked on to the set of Eastenders than real painting.

Yes the world is a better place and our lovely students of the arts have heeded their words and are busily creating artificial nonsensical installations and photo essays with flags and turds in as we speak. Hip hooray barks Moogee we love the new millenium artworld and all who sail in her…..

Pip pip ..snarl…

and a previous snarl from Moogee’s Kennel

July 2, generic 2007

Pearly King

Mr. James who a little more erudite than your average YBA has written a fetching piece on Mr.Hirst’s latest tat at..

 Clive James on that skull


Damien Hirst – Diamond Encrusted Skull – First Version

Moogee’s reply..

Cracking riposte Mr. James.

Mr. Hirst is the Barnum of our age and whilst not being a bad lad and kind to his mum he does produce some silly artworks. Even sillier is the stage-managed way he hoovers up press via his agent. Fair play in the kingdom of the skull the one-studded man is a chav. My friendly art dog has seen through the media fog for many a day mainly because being a dog he cannot converse with Mr. Hirst in case he rips him in two and drops him in a tank.

Unfair treatment of a critic but that the way life is these days. Would it be unwise if Moogee suggested that if current proportion of illegal diamonds on market as high as suggested that more than a couple of sparklers on this Pearly King’s bonce are dodgy anyway?

More woofism (turn right at post-modernism, ignore blankism and toss Moogee a bone)



Leonard Bullock on art

Struttin with some BBQ
1991 – 95 (NY, cialis Cologne) – Mischtechnik auf Fieberglas
122 x 103 cm
Copyright : Leonard Bullock
Courtesy : Galerie Poller, buy viagra Frankfurt am Main

Dear Mr. Belcher,
I was touched by the raw honesty of your letter. It gives such a generous & unguarded picture of your struggle to continue to practice making art. I admire you. Perhaps it is unfair, but I still hold England to be contemptuous of pursuits which are non utilitarian. Naturally, I mean this generally. The exceptions to this stricture there are legendary. Nonetheless I think Howard Hodgekin (sp?) was spot on when he said upon receiving the Turner that to be an active painter in England one was
already in “enemy territory”. Despite the enormous fanfare of the London scene this remains both under & overtone. What the London scene seems to defer to most of all is spectacle. {Status in public isn’t far behind.}

There are now many articles about the professionalizing/ academicizing of the art school; there’s an art history instructor at the University of Virginia named Howard Singerman who wrote an entire book on the subject which I haven’t been able to get my hands on. I have read little pieces of it, and responses to it , but at the moment I can’t find this stuff, so I can’t even give you the title. I’m sorry. I know this doesn’t do you much good. The reason I mention it is to say you’re not alone in thinking this was a make-work farce which became a horrible travesty. The schools now promulgate much of the, what the Germans call “Austellungskunst”: exhibition art.

I honestly haven’t done that well myself. My life as an artist has been like a roller-coaster. I have shown in a few famous venues; won some prestigious scholarships & awards; the problem may be psychological. That I must admit. Though I think it is also my stubborn desire for my work to continue to change. I am not one to settle into a signature style.
I live in a W.G. here. It means wohngemeinschaft: shared apartments. I have to most of my money into the maintenance of the studio and the art. One of the main reasons for staying here these last few years is that I have my health insurance here. I had a radical cancer scare back in 2003 and if I’d been in the U.S. I’d be dead.They took care of me here, and my friends & family really came through. Your family must recognize that you are devoted. I hope that you are one of the ones who can say their family appreciates what they do. Or at least has grudging respect. My family has gotten the news, although they’d rather I made enough money to participate in the family events in every season. At least half of what traveling I can do I do to try to sell my work, or to do short teaching engagements. I just scrape by. It’s nerve wracking. These isn’t any remedy. One either has enough enjoyment of the practice as it is, so that in & of itself it is satisfying; or there’s the bitterness, which leaks in unavoidably when it becomes apparent what an institutional charade much of this has become. Unfortunately one can sustain both. I do.

The field is rife with people who are almost allergic to techniques and even a dialogue about techniques and the significance of the materials to the practice; unless of course you’re speaking of new technology. I think it is curious the amount of antagonism there is to the dialogue about materials & techniques, and the teaching of it as well. At least there is here in the german speaking realm. The general gist is that these things don’t carry the same syntactical, or metaphorical status as vocabulary & figures of speech do in linguistics. As if the properties of forms are like a clothes line upon which on hangs (verbocentric) meaning. As if no meanings or implications arise >from form. This is couched in many terms but it really is driven by puritanically reductive habits. Ok, I’ve strayed from my intentions here. Let me go back.

In England things have changed in that London is genuinely an international art center. This doesn’t mean that the plight of artists who are trying to develop their own critical “systems” for sharpening their own critical acumen for developing some kind of form ; hybrid form we used to call it; sorry, its a bit of the old N.Y. school in me. ( I come by it honestly. I lived there for nearly twenty years.) There are many more grants and art fairs and public institutions now, but doesn’t mean that the curators in those places are out scouring the country for artists who have developed independently. Hell no! They’re looking for much of the same trivial/topical trash their curatorial peers seek. It isn’t far removed from fashion; its safety in numbers. To say that curators are risk averse is much too kind. They are bidden by the higher institutions on the food chain to bow to the pecking order. Europe isn’t like it was in the 70’s, when there were exhibitions of Americans and asians and artists from the U.K. who were given their first major shows in intrepid Kunsthalle’s and small museums. Sometimes they were the ones letting N.Y. know what was going on right in its own backyard. Today it is all a part of the same machine. There are small institutions which haven’t been given their bona fides yet. But usually there’s a young curator there who’s waiting for the chance to prove he/she can play the toady, be recognized as someone who knows what’s good for him; show they’re willing to play the game and be granted access to the next tier.
You have to take these theoreticals with a grain of salt. It’s your right, and I hope your pleasure, to let them know that they no longer rule the art world uncontested. This is something you can do sotto voce. A few years ago Joseph Kosuth was here in Basel. His work is of the ilk that describes an intention, literally. When the pieces are made they sometimes unintentionally invoke questions of their own necessity as objects. I remember Saul Ostrow, a critic in N.Y., used to say,
“Joseph Kosuth is a really smart guy who does really stupid work.”( That should be one that you can fire off next time you have one of them in the studio.) Anyway, Joseph was here in town for a show and we know each other glancingly; so we had dinner. Other than tell me how he fucked my girlfriend 20 years ago, there wasn’t the kind of fireworks I expected. The reason was I just wasn’t so much interested as I would’ve been ten years earlier. I told him that I just didn’t agree that it all naturally flowed towards verbal interpretation, towards the <verbocentic> route he’d hewn for so many years. It was humorous the way he reacted. He was disappointed, I could see it. I was willing to debate other things with him, so he knew I wasn’t ducking a fight. But this which he’d staked so much on, well, I told him it was one choice among many. The day in which this attitude was thought inevitable is past.
I’m very pleased you know about the show in Edinburgh. I’m proud to have done that. It was a splendid time. Just before I came back to Europe in ’94. Was there for two months in Edinburgh. Did a lecture at the Tramway, I believe it is called, in Glasgow. Then a friend of mine came from Cologne and we went to the Hebrides for two weeks: Islay, Jura, Colonsay.

We camped several days near the Ardbeg distillery on Islay, amongst the goats, seals and hundreds of birds. The seals would swim up into the cove to check out our camp site. Driftwood was our only fuel. Even though it rained, I kept a fire going for three days. I remember those meals fondly. The islanders were very warm. I’d never had so many strangers buy me whiskey. Well, we were there during the highland games.

The show was put on at a gallery that is no longer in existence, as far as I know. It was called “out of the blue”. Trudy Gibson was one of the girls, girls; they’d castrate me in N.Y. for that. She was one of the owner directors of the gallery. We got wonderful reviews, yet sold nothing. Trudy and all the people who were participating in the gallery worked very hard to publicize it. A show like that, of something really contemporary from N.Y. is a very rare thing there, I realized. Someone at the lecture asked me afterward if this show was representative of the “End of Ideology” attitude in the U.S. after the fall of the Soviet Union. (I think I answered that I didn’t think we’d get so lucky, and of course we haven’t. The winds just blow from other directions.)

I’m going to do some research on the names you sent me. I’m sorry that I’ve gone off a bit here. Would like to go further, but I have to get to work again.

Thank you again, and I welcome mail from you, or comments which you might post.
Please let me know, Leonard

The Art of Greed


Following an excellent Clive James article on Hirst’s Skull on BBC website I was moved to post a short reply…I elaborate a little more here..

I wrote then..

Cracking riposte Mr. James. Mr Hirst is the Barnum of our age and whilst not being a bad lad and kind to his mum he does produce some silly artworks. Even sillier is the stage-managed way he hoovers up press via his agent. Fair play in the kingdom of the skull the one-studded man is a chav. My friendly art dog has seen through the media fog for many a day mainly because being a dog he cannot converse with Mr Hirst in case he rips him in two and drops him in a tank. Unfair treatment of a critic but that’s the way life is these days. Would it be unwise if Moogee suggested that if current proportion of illegal diamonds on market as high as suggested then most of the sparklers on this Pearly King’s bonce are dodgy anyway?

I enlarge now…

Having re-read an sovaldi ,2115567,00.html” title=”Barnum”>Observer interview with Mr.Hirst’s ‘agent come bookie’ Frank Dunphy  I have to eat my words. As a double act Mr. James’s comments on Morecambe and Wise and celebrity come much closer to the truth than he imagines. Mr Dunphy ex-bookie, Irish scallywag and theatrical agent to several dwarves, a python lady , Harry Worth( true talent) and The Nitwits( don’t ask but they cleaned up in Vegas apparently) is the real Barnum here. Fraud is the key. It is no longer anything remotely to do with art or even the trailing in his jetstream Jay (Etonian) Jopling who probably looked sadder than Mr. Cameron after a by-election when he realised said skull cost more to make (let alone sell) than his entire ‘White Cube’ gallery. How appropriate that it is the name of the gallery that signifies all that wrong with contemporary art culture. A white space devoid of feeling and intrinsic merit that reflects back contemporary obsessions with the vacuous, the fleeting and the vain. To that degree Hirst has produced an object of its time but that time as Warhol predicted used to be 15 mins..it substantially less …ask the Big Brother clone lapdancing for footballers how long she expected to  ‘cut her teeth’ on the lush pile carpets of instant glamour before returning to the barmaid role…

One White Cube is another mans Sugar Lump. Publicity for Jopling to keep him in his loft conversion or is it stockbroker manse? Publicity for dull-witted hacks on a hundred lifestyle mags to fill column inches instead of having to either read, investigate or think. Disposable culture bred on internet searches and generic theme writing born of laziness and bad teaching. The roots of our present malaise stretch far back into the teenage bedrooms and back of class Hello and GQ obsessed teenagers who have been coached in lifestyle living instead of values, grammar or numeracy.

The path to suburban Ikeadom is laced with diamond skulls, footballers wives and cocaine highs but nothing that lasts longer than a corporate blowjob or a pot noodle. Greed is all and pot noodle culture is what we feed our young from the Tate Modern to the inner-city community project where getting a five -second rap from a disgruntled teenager and wrapping it in special effects so that the published ‘outcomes’ satisfy some notion of ‘substance’ for the funding body is all.

White breadism…..not something wholesome or genuinely meaningful is frowned on – fast food culture breeds fast food artists.

 Shit in…shit out.

Abusing Art

The Museum of Modern Art, buy viagra Oxford, search England  is to show a 100 paintings by Saatchi ’star’ Stella Vine. This is my response to her interview in the U.K. broadsheet Observer newspaper where she was afforded two pages of coverage.


Spot the real artist…

I once saw a couple of Vine’s paintings in a Stuckist show in the East End of London apparently the same one where Don Saatchi ‘discovered’ her. The Observer feature reproduced a family painting in its feature and mentioned that portraits of the Ipswich prostitutes would also be in the show. Sadly more of the reporter’s questions concentrated on Ms. Vine’s abusive or not-abusive past ( a la Emin) than on the work…indeed one felt for the interviewee as almost all comment on the formal structure of her work was negated in pursuit of ‘good copy’. Trying to separate a fairly ordinary painter from the hype is difficult but it increasingly appears that Saatchi has given this particular ‘Fair Lady’ the Rex Harrison makeover. My objection is that because of his power he can do this to virtually any artist (maybe this was an artworld insiders bet?) and the laughable ‘art-world’ we now left with post Saatchi falls into place behind like a herd of lapdogs to praise her ‘ability’…

The Museum of Modern Art Oxford was one of the best new galleries in the country in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s showing a range of work..Rodchencko, sale Mayakovsky, New French Painting that as a young art student I felt priviliged to attend. That standards have slipped this far that its latest director opts for a sensational yet threadbare parade of a troubled individuals amateurism is beyond a joke. Whatever Stella Vine is …media personality, affable ex-stripper, troubled individual the one thing any fairly art-educated person can say is she is not a painter. So why is an institution like MOMA doing this?

Are they so impressed by her ability they could not resist her charms? No like any Blairite art institution it has scrabbled along with dwindling funding over the last two decades and has learnt to ‘sell itself’ for the greater good. A coffee bar was the first ‘improvement’ the new director made and as a son of a government official of such standing he was made an Oxford University College Dean it was no surprise that his improvements were waved through unopposed. Oxford is still a city controlled by a mediaeval and arrogant University system.

So when an opportunity to raise column inches ( note Observer already) who could resist Ms. Vine. Thus a cash starved and publicity-seeking art organisation chases bankrupt art simply because images of Princess Diana and Pete Doherty might 1) draw in public and 2) mention of Saatchi will ring the publicity bells….which it already has.

To attack this art as neglible, badly-painted sensationalist drivel will bring also the wrath of should have known better post-feminist critics who shamefully will do anything for a quick buck and a place in limelight. That Germaine Greer even thinks she can put her name to this show’s catalogue shows that not only the artworld is living on a morally bankrupt plateau we have previously only imagined. I do not care if I am labelled a ‘anti-feminist’ for pointing out their shortcomings for the simple reason that I am not and never will be but I am simply pointing out crap art when I see it and the hordes of univerity hack-feminists dribbling over Tracy Emin will probably produce yet more academic tomes about the ‘importance’ of this latest ‘she-warrior’ for the arts. It is complete rubbish. The best female artists are still around they are simply not a party to the Saatchi circus.

If one wants a chilling vision of just how vile the new Saatchi driven artworld is then spend a few minutes watching the flood of inane, amateurish and frankly sexist images that flood his gateway to the stars i.e. Sattchi online. Born of a belief in ‘access for all’ it is like a X Factor for bad art. Vote for me, look at me, give me a show the poor fools who subscribe seem to be saying..gimme gimme gimme ….is this present generations mantra and they are being suckered in the same way Barnum spewed out his mantras..you can fool some of the people all of the time.

There is nothing ‘good’ about any of this. It cheapens the art world – it gives young students a prostitution mantra to do anything to be noticed…’wow factor’ the colleges now inculcate any budding artist with from day one of their foundation courses. Don’t bother learning to paint or draw you too can be a Stella Vine just make it newsworthy…prostitutes, murderers, rapists..then tell people it post-feminist investigation….bollocks.

It is pathetic both as an intellectual idea and as actual art. All you need as a female artist is to confront the dragons of the patriarchy and you too can be Saint Joan of Art, or Stella or Tracy. Meanwhile the power remains clenched firmly in the abusers fist. After Saatchi a host of charlatan dealers swarmed around the disorientated Ms.Vine and made cheap deals like a pack of internet groomers. Meaning is lost in this kind of vacuous society. Art values are destroyed. Who is top of the heap is determined by people who know nothing about the intrinsic values of art but only commerce and making insider bets to increase their standing. How many of those dealers were women one wonders…?

As art the show at MOMA will be amongst the very worst that poor institution has displayed in its history. It is perhaps the final nail in a downward slide in the art-world in general that has sold itself for a handful of silver. Our magazines, our websites, our galleries are tainted and we are the poorer….cheap trash is IN buddy!! so dumb down and wallow in the mire…capitalism stuffs the revolutionaries mouths with silver before the corpses are cold…

Does this matter?Yes, a country and a society that sells itself like a cheap stripper is demeaned. I visited Valencia in Spain last week and the difference in overall attitude, funding, and most importantly erudite discussion of art was so marked as to be shocking.
The Spanish system has in inate understanding of the intrinsic merit of artists and what they produce. It does not abuse its artists or treat them like call girls and strippers (male or female). The sexist agenda at work here is strengthened by tawdry and sensationalist shows like this. Women are once again the victims of a system that is patrimonial. I did not see a single female artist accorded such treatment in Spain.

I despise our present greedy, neurotic, ill-educated, sexist and arrogant yet impoverished system. It is time true values were once again brought back to be top of the agenda. Call me rightist etc etc but when the BFI is collapsing and a commentator in the same paper can lament the fact that after a 10 fold increase in funding the film industry is collapsing perhaps it time to point out that despite 6 billion in arts funding we have more artists than ever, more galleries than ever, more publicity than ever…and guess what… 90% of it is all shite.

p.s. In Valencia I saw a show of photographs of Frida Khalo……she was strong, talented and a beacon of light throughout her life right to her death-bed….Vine and Emin are nowhere near…Khalo did not need a Saatchi to become famous and she would probably have spat in his face…if only people like that were feted..but Saatchi likes to pick artists that cannot fight back…