The spin of art

The spin of art

Michael Daley describes how the main players in State Art have taken spin to a new level. Many people remain in awe at the legendary manipulative means by which the political spinmaster, Alastair Campbell, delivered to successive New Labour governments the media coverage they craved. What is not sufficiently appreciated is that compared with art world practitioners of those dark [...]

William Orpen reappraised

William Orpen reappraised

Painter John Nutt reappraises the forgotten and routinely maligned William Orpen. Largely for historical and religious reasons, the Irish have been persistently marginalised in British society. Orpen was the youngest of five children of a prosperous Irish Protestant solicitor. He was born in 1878 in Oriel House, Grove Avenue, Stilorgan near Dublin, where he enjoyed a comfortable middle class Irish [...]

Charity vaunteth not itself … except sometimes

Charity vaunteth not itself … except sometimes

Friend of the Royal Academy, James Birkin, believes the RA is neither open nor giving enough considering its charitable status; and overly concerned with business.   It is said that a true friend will speak truth unto power. How sad then that the Friends of the Royal Academy are denied the chance to do just this. Recent correspondence with this [...]

Performance before content – Eric Coombes is disappointed…

Performance before content – Eric Coombes is disappointed…

…by the frivolity and lack of ambition and academic rigour in the 2014 Reith Lectures. Immediately after his predictably rapturous greeting at the first performance, Grayson Perry raised the question of why he was asked to give this year’s Reith Lectures. Well, for the first time in their sixty-six years, they were to be given by a “visual artist”. Could [...]

Why shit can never be art – painter Patrick Cullen contests the commonly held view that a relic of an idea is a work of art

Why shit can never be art – painter Patrick Cullen contests the commonly held view that a relic of an idea is a work of art

If any Jackdaw readers were still in doubt about just how rigged the contemporary art market is after numerous articles on the subject, many from the editor, then Phil Redman’s piece “The Crap Art Market” (The Jackdaw, no 108) should have put the matter beyond doubt. So I take all that as read. Less obvious is why the domination of [...]

The importance of being Erno – Eric Coombes questions the reputation of a Brutalist architect

The importance of being Erno – Eric Coombes questions the reputation of a Brutalist architect

Sometimes material appears in a “serious” newspaper which—even in our  current cultural condition—is at an astonishingly low intellectual level to come from the prominent “authority” who wrote it. Disagreeable though it is, perhaps one should occasionally draw attention to such material, and subject it to closer inspection. Those who can bear to do so, should read Stephen Bayley’s article in [...]

Lament for a lost, semi-innocent world: Giles Auty remembers St Ives, half a century on from when he first painted there

Lament for a lost, semi-innocent world: Giles Auty remembers St Ives, half a century on from when he first painted there

I paid a first visit to St. Ives in the late 1950s and will never forget my first glimpse of the town from the hill above the railway station. For someone to whom the word ‘sea’ had hitherto largely meant the pebbly beaches and endless mudflats of the coast of East Kent, the turquoise water, dazzling white sands and rows [...]

Recent articles

in Comment

View from the summit

Laura Gascoigne wades through managerial drivel to consider the plight of museums outside London. Searching for quirky museums for a series in The Oldie, I turned up the name of the Astley Cheetham Art Gallery in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester. A recce of the BBC Your Paintings website revealed that its Victorian collection, left to the town in 1932 by mill [...]

in Comment

Just think

Laura Gascoigne wonders if the artists who purport to be thinkers are any good at thinking. “I think, therefore I am.” “I think differently, therefore I am an artist.” To traditionalists it may already seem that the entire art world has arrived at destination Hell in a handcart and there is nowhere further to go, but actually the journey isn’t [...]

in Comment

Poor man’s guide to art investing – don’t

Wisely, Laura Gascoigne is unconvinced by art as investment. Equestrian statues of one sort or another are becoming a regular fixture on the Fourth Plinth. In 2012 we had Elmgreen & Dragset’s paedophile’s delight of the boy on the gilded rocking horse; next up in 2015 will be Hans Haacke’s equine skeleton, inspired by Stubbs, with a live ticker of [...]

in Comment

Archive fever

Artists have re-discovered the cabinet of curiosities, which is to their and our advantage, argues Laura Gascoigne. “There really is no such thing as art. There are only artists.” Easy enough to say at a time of rationing when there are few varieties of artist about. When Gombrich made his famous statement in 1950 there were only painters, sculptors, the [...]

in Comment

Building brands, ruining reputations – Laura Gascoigne on the Tate

Nothing is too squalid for Brand Tate, argues Laura Gascoigne. ‘Change the name and not the letter, change for the worse and not the better,’ ran the old wives’ saw on choosing a husband. Nowadays, in the wider world of consumer choice, a change of name is almost always a change for the worse. Whenever a familiar product is rebranded, [...]

in Comment

Mind the funding gap – Laura Gascoigne on NEDs and philanthropy

It may have been the heat, but in the lead-up to the summer recess accusations of conflict of interest were flying around Whitehall like frisbees. First the PM’s Aussie electioneer Lynton Crosby was outed as a lobbyist for Big Tobacco just as the government announced its decision that plain cigarette packaging represented a danger to public health until proved otherwise, [...]

in Essays

David Jones – painter Desmond Sloane on an important British artist and poet

Painter Desmond Sloane rehearses the career of an important British artist and poet who fought in the trenches and whose work is too often overlooked. ‘Part of me, the artist within me, has never left the trenches.’ So wrote the artist and poet David Jones about his service as a front line soldier in the First World War. Jones was [...]

in Comment

Grayson Perry’s 2014 Reith Lectures – a missed opportunity

Patrick Cullen explains why Grayson Perry missed an opportunity by avoiding the important issues he claimed to be addressing. Grayson Perry was a surprising choice to deliver the Reith Lectures given the list of senior academics, elder statesmen and those at the top of their profession preceding him in the job. One wondered why, when it came to contemporary art [...]

in Leader

Christopher Wool and the art market: selling the soul

American painter Christopher Wool (b. 1955) has been described by the New Yorker as “perhaps the most important painter of his generation”. Christie’s are in less doubt, describing him as “one of the last century’s most influential artists”. Even by the risible standards of bullshit spouted by auction houses and art dealers this is ridiculous. I’ve never heard anyone, artist [...]

in Essays

Kenneth Clark at Tate Britain: the great panjandrum

Edward Lucie-Smith discovers that their tribute to Kenneth Clark is not as complimentary as the Tate thinks it is The Tate Britain show devoted to Sir Kenneth Clark – ‘Lord Clark of Civilisation’, as he came to be called – was a slightly strange phenomenon. It defined a whole tract of the recent history of the visual arts here in [...]