1 June 2011 § Leave a comment
In anticipation of the Tate Britain‘s upcoming Vorticist exhibition I thought it would be interesting to dig up my vintage copies of BLAST (1914), The Tyro (1921/2) and The Enemy (1927-9) by way of revision. These form the most part of Lewis’s, often vitriolic, earlier observations on art, artists and well, pretty much everything actually.
Having recently commented on the quality of art gallery ‘press’ releases a comment from the Tyro was particularly interesting. The Tyro, I should mention, represented Wyndham’s (and the Vorticists) self-styled critical and artistic persona (you may have seen his brilliant self-portrait as the Tyro) and the publications were an attempt to reignite the London debate on avant-garde artistic ideals following BLAST a few years earlier.
The confrontational Tyros are introduced in the first issue with these words: ‘These immense novices brandish their appetites in their faces, lay bare their teeth in a valedictory, inviting, or merely substantial laugh. This sunny commotion in the face, at the gate of the organism, brings to the surface all the burrowing and interior broods. Most of them are basking in the sunshine of their abominable nature’ … and so on.
In The Tyro no.2 he mocks Clive Bell and the ‘weak and foolish’ ’Bloomsburies’ and comments on their gallery marketing. He complains that ‘imaginative finance’ is used to value their work and sold by predicting a financial gain on the art’s value over future years. He mocks their style ‘If you are a small man with a small purse then these are the pictures for you. They are not much to look at , but then neither are you…. Buy! Buy! Buy! I say to you buy! You will never regret it. You may live to bless this day. Plank down the ready and this elegant picture is yours.’
He then adds a very prescient comment. ‘I suggest before it is too late, that painters exhibit their pictures with notes, if the dealers require them, on the intellectual motives of the particular adventure they are engaged upon; but that they eschew the methods of the boot firm or cigar importer, as it is not likely to help them particularly.’
I would imagine that it was very many years before artists statments were introduced, a practice that is now ubiquitous. I have, however, no idea of when it became widespread. All suggestions welcome!?
The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World runs at Tate Britain 14 June until 4 September 2011.
30 September 2010 § Leave a comment
The key shows for the 2011 have just been announced by the Tate. At Tate Britain Watercolour traces the medium from its beginnings, ‘through to William Blake and JMW Turner, right up to Patrick Heron and Tracey Emin.’ The exhibition starts on the 16 Feb 2011. It is interesting to have a show on an unfairly criticised and oft-neglected medium, but why is Tracey Emin there (again) when her links with watercolour are pretty tenuous and less worthy of examination than many, many other fine artists? Somebody please tell the Tate that we do not need the names of Hirst, Emin et al thrown about in order to draw us to the exhibitions.
The summer 2011 blockbuster is Joan Miró at Tate Modern. apparently the first Miró retrospective in London for over 50 years it opens on the 14 April. I shall look forward to seeing lots of his surrealistic early works, but Miro lived a long life, dying at over 90 years of age, and it will be more fascinating to assess the quality of his later work, usually regarded as inferior. Will the show provide any new insights?
Talking of surrealism Tate Liverpool shows René Magritte from 24 June to 16 October, and following, among others, Paul Nash at Dulwich and the Surreal House at the Barbican it looks like a good run for art from the subconscious. Magritte is a fascinating artist but will a whole show be just one bowler hat too many? Meanwhile how about an exhibition of the rather neglected Max Ernst sometime soon?
The Autumn arrives with the apocalyptic destruction of John Martin on 21 September 2011, closely followed by a fascinating Gerhard Richter survey at Tate Modern on 6 October 2011. We have hardly been starved of Richter in recent years but a big show will be very welcome and will be certain to cement his position as one of the leading post-war artists.
Overall, not a bad selection and plenty to look forward to, but is it all rather safe and, dare I say ‘old-fashioned’? There are more shows yet to announce but just where are the exciting new artists? Where is the very best and latest in contemporary art? Hopefully in shows yet to be revealed but don’t hold your breath!
Incidentally the images shown above are not necessarily in the exhibitions – although I hope that they are!
- Tate Modern to display Miro work (bbc.co.uk)
20 September 2010 § Leave a comment
Alison Jackson is one of the best video artists/photographers around at addressing the cult of celebrity. I have featured a few of her photographic works before but here is a video that I just could not resist posting – especially as it only has had a modest few hundred views on YouTube over the last month.
Although her work teeters on the borderline between fine art and entertainment – possibly because she is almost too good at what she does – I thoroughly approve of any artist who can provoke The Sun to explode in to a double page rant on the moral poverty of the art establishment (see article here)! The photographic work in particular is beautifully done and is capable of making as much relevant comment on the world around us as the very best in contemporary art. She says “Likeness becomes real and fantasy touches on the believable. The viewer is suspended in disbelief. I try to highlight the psychological relationship between what we see and what we imagine. This is bound up in our need to look – our voyeurism – and our need to believe.”
Jackson graduated in Fine Art Photography at the Royal College of Art and has recently featured in Tate Britain‘s Rude Britannia exhibition. She has done the Double Take series for the BBC and also has published photo books like Confidential and Private.
17 August 2010 § Leave a comment
The mid-summer lull in the London gallery schedules allows a moment for contemplation on what looks like a very mixed bag of Autumn shows. I just cannot quite work myself up in to a frenzy of excitment about this motley assortment of old hands and uninspiring newcomers.
Starting with public galleries the blockbuster Gaugin will undoubtedly be the major event of 2010 and amazingly his first major UK exhibition for 5o years. The Tate Modern promises that the exhibition will explore ‘the role of the myths around the man.’ Starts 30 September – stick it in the diary! Arrive after the 12 October and see what Ai Weiwei has installed as the 11th Turbine Hall commission. Recently involved in the Beijing Olympic stadium and then almost beaten to death for his political views he has said: ’Everything is art, everything is politics. You can call it art or you can call it politics, I don’t give a damn.’ Should be interesting.
Over at Tate Britain the schedule, starting 8 September, is totally underwhelming. Eadweard Muybridge (yes, correctly spelt) was a the 19th century photographer who ‘proved that a horse can fly’ with multiple images and anticipated the coming of cinema with the zoopraxiscope. He also travelled and documented America of the time. Just about worth dropping in.
Rachel Whiteread Drawings is the other choice – but why? Her casts of varied spaces, apart from being a direct steal from Bruce Nauman are getting tedious. Now she says this: ‘A lot of the works that I’ve been making over the years have been part of a cyclical process. I often feel a cycle is incomplete and need to tread the same path again.’ So now having run out of (someone else’s) ideas all she can do is more of the same again, but this time in drawings. Keep well away! The Gagosian, Daniels Street, is taking advantage with their own Rachel Whiteread exhibition on the 7 September – and I don’t see any reason to bother with this one either.
The Turner Prize 2010 exhibition is of course at Tate Britain too – from 5 October. Calming down in its old age but an interesting selection. Dexter Dalwood and Angela de la Cruz painting, sound artist Susan Philipsz and the multi-disciplinary Otolith Group. I like Dalwood but the inventive Otolith Group have to be my favourite.
The second part of Newspeak: British Art Now opens at the Satchi on 27 October. Despite the overwhelming mediocrity of the show it is strangely compulsive viewing, and there is a particularly nice cafe. Apart from that I can not wait to update my critics Saatchi league table from my previous posts!
The Royal Academy’s Treasures of Budapest starts on 25 September. Although there will be the opportunity to save the air fare to Budapest it doesn’t seem to be a show-stopper, but worth a visit. It promises Raphael, El Greco, Manet, Monet, Schiele and Picasso amongst others.
Of the smaller Galleries the Camden Arts Centre always seems to have something interesting. On 23 September Rene Daniels’ opens. His interesting work is ‘permeated through and through with writing, word games, literary references, visual puns, and allusions to art movements, institutions, and mass media.’
Of the private galleries Hauser & Wirth’s opens its expansive new Savile Row space on the 15 October with a Fabric Works of Louise Bourgeois - hardly inspirational, but I look forward to seeing the gallery. Of their other exhibitions the Piccadilly branch has the first posthumous show of Jason Rhoades’ opening 24 September. The exhibition features ’1:12 Perfect World’, Rhoades’ scale model of his groundbreaking 1999 exhibition, ‘Perfect World’ in Hamburg. Ho-hum.
At Haunch of Venison there is the strange choice of Loud Flash: British Punk on Paper, starting 24 September, which nevertheless looks like it may be quite interesting. Meanwhile do not miss the excellent Joana Vasconcelos and quirky animal-stuffer Polly Morgan whose exhibitions are currently on until the 25 September!
At the White Cube, Masons yard Christian Marclay opens on the 15 October: ‘Over the past 30 years, Christian Marclay has explored the fusion of fine art and audio cultures, transforming sounds and music into a visible, physical form through performance, collage, sculpture, installation, photography and video.’ Meanwhile over at WC Hoxton on 13 October Mark Bradford’s ‘multi-layered collaged paintings incorporating materials found in the urban environment’. Both may be worth a look but hardly captivating.
The pick of the rest are Jacco Olivier at Victoria Miro from 7 September - Olivier fuses colourful paintings with video – his works are delightful and fascinating. Finally Marina Abramovic is at the Lisson - god knows what we will see from the ‘grandmother of performance art’ but it is well worth a detour!
There we go – the best of the autumn? Not great and, in respect of painting very lop-sided. The public galleries mostly with retrospective painting, the private with, well all sorts from taxidermy to performance but pretty much steering away from anything on canvas . No demand? No talent? Are the private galleries out of sync with what the public wants - or is it the Public galleries? I will leave you to ponder the mystery….
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- Saatchi to Donate His Gallery and Art to Britain (nytimes.com)
- In pictures: 10 Years of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall (news.bbc.co.uk)
- Nothing to see here – beyond the blockbuster exhibitions (guardian.co.uk)