Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Into the dustbin with third-rate tax-funded 'art'

In the glory days of the old Colony Room, during the countless hours there in which I was both conscious and coherent, I cannot recall having a single conversation about 'art'. Damien, Tracy Emin, Sarah Lucas, Rachel and all the rest never, in my hearing, mentioned the thing that Francis Bacon referred to dismissively as Fart. Dealers, commission, business, tax and contracts, yes - but 'art', no. 

In fact, if one thing characterises the successful artists I have known, it is a sound head for business, ruthless self-publicity and a self confidence that permits no door in the world to be closed to them. Their tactics for 'breakthrough' are as thorough and ferocious as as Guderian's wielding of a Panzer army. They are, in short, amongst the least needy candidates for tax support that I've ever come across. And they'd run a mile rather than be tainted with anything a bit 'council'. 

Simon Jenkins writes in today's Guardian:
Yesterday in the Guardian the director of the Tate, Nicholas Serota, said the impending cuts to arts subsidies were like Hitler's "ruthless blitzkrieg" that would "threaten the whole ecosystem" of civilisation. Whether a school outreach programme equates to the puncturing of the Maginot Line others can decide, but a "Serota" clearly qualifies as a unit of political pressure.
And here we really must sort the wheat from the chaff. There is a gulf between great international institutions that acquire and exhibit important art works, stage productions of global quality or promote the finest of the nation's cultural and creative sector and throwing tax money at third-rate creatives with little or no endogenous merit or ability who will never rise beyond the village hall or municipal foyer. 

I was once asked to look at a portfolio of pencil drawings by an ex-prisoner; they were trite, unaccomplished, cliched, clumsy and painful to look at. They were without a scintilla of merit. When I said so than man's astonished representative said "But the prison art visitor said he has a rare talent". "What was he in for?" I asked. "GBH". "Well," I suggested, "he would say that, wouldn't he?". 


Edward Spalton said...

It is noteworthy that artistic luvvies are always available to sponsor any politically correct cause. It is very rare for any artist to express a non-pc sentiment.

I suspect that is because the Arts Council and similar bodies are their welfare state - but a welfare state with the ability to withhold as well as give.

"Right wing" sentiments would brand an artist as "undeserving".

Many artists, dramatists etc are paid a salary which ultimately derives from the state. Yet they are still able to claim copyright and great wealth for themselves for work done whilst a state salaried employee .

It was the fury of the luvvies, who saw this sort of thing at risk, which so effectively blackened Mrs Thatcher's name. She invented greed, you know!

David Gillies said...

Ooh, now that's a good'un. Offer the luvvies this Faustian bargain: yes, you can suckle at the public teat, or you can create your 'art' on your own dime, but only in the latter case do you retain copyright.

The grunting and squealing and sound of exploding heads alone would be worth whatever the Arts Council gets.