… Where’s the sense in multisensory art?

… Where’s the sense in multisensory art?

It used to be known as ‘synaesthesia’; now ‘crossmodal perception’ is the scientific term for the ability of one sense to stimulate another. Experiments by Oxford University psychologists and researchers in New York have found links between reactions to sound and smell in the part of the brain known as the ‘olfactory tubercle’. It may sound like a plug of […]

The way we are now – why ‘avant garde’ is now an obsolete term

The way we are now – why ‘avant garde’ is now an obsolete term

The Times – God bless its little cotton socks – has just been celebrating the triumphal return of the 1990s as a creative force. “Suddenly contemporary art” it crows, “was part of popular culture. The Royal Academy’s landmark Sensation show in 1997 was a turning point.” It was so indeed, but not exactly in the terms the article intends. Here […]

Fibres torn from the brain

Fibres torn from the brain

In all the doting coverage of ‘Defining Beauty: The Body in Ancient Greek Art’ at the British Museum, no mention was made of the fact that the bulk of major exhibits featured were from the museum’s own collection. Stupidly, I had believed – and perhaps was even misled by advance publicity – that the exhibition would feature a range of […]

Brian Sewell (1931-2015)

Brian Sewell (1931-2015)

It isn’t my intention to repeat the tediously familiar stories peddled by obituarists relating controversies which Brian’s inclination to mischief and provocation helped encourage. Instead I want to address two issues unconsidered elsewhere: his astonishing generosity and the disgraceful but typical hypocrisy of the BBC towards him. Brian was a working man. He called himself ‘working class’, a description some […]

Modernism and the novelty trap

Modernism and the novelty trap

Giles Auty considers the purchase of Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles by the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra in 1973 and what such an acquisition signifies. A few months back, a rash of articles appeared in the press which commemorated the dismissal of the Whitlam government thirty years ago and commented on the continuing sense of grievance felt by his […]

Des beaux-arts

Des beaux-arts

Anthony Daniels visits a degree show at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.   I am in blood Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er. Macbeth, Act 3 scene iv No one would have understood better than Macbeth the logic of the inexorable destruction by the art education […]

Multinational art

Multinational art

In the dash to internationalism the national is trampled underfoot, argues Laura Gascoigne. In November, Lund Humphries celebrated 75 years of publishing books on British art with an anniversary talk at the ICA titled ‘Is there such a thing as British art?’ It was chaired by Tim Marlow, now of the Royal Academy, and debated by a panel composed of […]

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in Comment

Martin Lang: Against Life Drawing – November 2017

Advocating life drawing at art school is a deeply conservative and reactionary position. Arguments in favour of life drawing usually fall into one of two camps (or sometimes both). I am utterly unconvinced by both. The first, and weaker, argument contends that it is necessary to learn the rules before you can break them. This is an authoritarian position where […]

in Comment

Art: Cool and Uncool – William Varley Reviews Addicted to Sheep

So, as all cool sentences begin, I think that the best TV programme I saw last was Addicted to Sheep. In many ways this BBC4 documentary was reminiscent of the French film Être et Avoir about a remarkable teacher in a school in the remote Auvergne, although a good deal less winsome. It focused on the lives of the Hutchinson […]

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Charles Thomson: Lies, Damned Lies and Serota at the BBC

Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate Gallery, has used the platform of the BBC in a blatant attempt to deceive the nation. Either that or he is genuinely deluded himself. Both options render him unfit for major public office. He was confronted on Radio 4 programme The Reunion: Tate Modern on September 23rd by Sue MacGregor, regarding the Tate’s […]

in Essays

Essay: What Happened to Art Education?

Introduction Since its beginning, and until very recently, Fine Art education has been evolutionary. Received wisdom that the modus operandi of teaching art were static until being gradually upset in the decades after 1945 is an exaggeration. The objective to produce basic competence in practical skills in painting and sculpture was indeed a constant ambition, but the methods by which […]

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Selby Whittingham: Tate Modern or Tate Theatre

A survey by the Office for National Statistics in May revealed that the British are changing their spending habits. Instead of filling our homes to the rafters with consumer durables and not-so-durables, we’re spending our spare cash on ‘experiences’, including recreation and, yes, culture. “People are interested in servicing a lifestyle rather than buying stuff,” one trend forecaster commented in […]

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Laura Gascoigne: The Art Police – November 2017

If you’re thinking of committing an art crime, now’s your moment. In June budgetary pressures forced the ‘temporary’ closure of the Met’s Art & Antiques Squad and the transfer of expert staff to the Grenfell Tower fire investigation, and there’s no knowing when, if ever, they’ll be back. So it’s bye-bye blue light, hello green light to thieves, fakers, fraudsters […]

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Laura Gascoigne: Tangled Web – September 2017

“Why is there so much sewing?” demanded The Art Newspaper’s Christina Ruiz after visiting Christine Macel’s exhibition at this year’s Venice Biennale. “I get it: domestic work, women’s work, is important and undervalued. But is it in itself art? No it is not.” There was a time when so-called textile arts were prized above all others; when first unveiled in […]

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Laura Gascoigne: It’s Not The Winning, It’s The Making Art – July 2017

Last month a new sort of museum opened in Sweden. The brainchild of psychologist Dr Samuel West, the Museum of Failure in Helsinborg is an unnatural history museum of commercial fossils, a repository of innovative products that flopped. “The majority of all innovation projects fail,” its website announces cheerfully, before expressing the hope that showcasing “interesting innovation failures” will “provide […]

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Laura Gascoigne: Do You Want Ice With That? – May 2017

Ever since Anya Gallaccio made her name by exhibiting an ice block called Intensities and Surfaces in an East London pumping station in 1996, I’ve been monitoring the advance of ice through the contemporary art world, where it seems resistant to climate trends prevailing elsewhere. While the polar ice caps recede, the phenomenon of ice art only grows. I wouldn’t […]

in Comment

Laura Gascoigne: Tainted by Experience – March 2017

When the former controller of BBC Radio 3 John Drummond published an autobiography in 2001, he called it ‘Tainted by Experience’ – an ironic reference to the reason given by a Birtist suit at the Beeb for his being ‘let go’ a decade earlier. I haven’t read the book, but the expression was used by William Varley in a positive […]

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