Dick French goes to town

Dick French goes to town

1 Mrs Cravat emerges from her Islington bunker. She keeps a large stuffed bear in the hallway – Rupert had seen better days. His pelt is wearing a little thin down where she strokes him for luck, but he has sentimental value. She bought him off Chris Farlow when he had a Nazi regalia shop on the Essex Road. She’ll [...]

Teaching and painting

Teaching and painting

John Lessore and John Wonnacott wrote the following essays for the catalogue accompanying their joint exhibition, The Life Room and the City, at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery First, John Lessore discusses his attachment to drawing and his approaches to teaching it As a student, I wanted to be taught, and the lack of serious teaching, even in the [...]

Art under kleptocracy

Art under kleptocracy

Laura Gascoigne examines the paradox of why most artists’ earnings are below the poverty line while the art market is thriving as never before Another month, another book on the contemporary art economy, this time from an overlooked perspective. The New Economy of Art, a joint publication by DACS and Artquest, looks at the art market from the POV of [...]

Tottenham Caught Napping

Tottenham Caught Napping

Advised that as part of the Crossrail project (current budget £15 billion) each of five central London tube stations through which it passes had been allocated, for the purpose of decoration by their artists, to the five principal dealers associated with State Art, you might think a major public contract couldn’t possibly get away with such lazy commercial partiality. In [...]

‘Sculpture’ versus Sculpture

‘Sculpture’ versus Sculpture

Among the least impressive legacies of arts administrators’ obsession with Modernism and its aftermath is the impossibility of predicting a work’s status solely from its appearance. You might form your own view about it, but you can’t predict what State Art’s opinion will be because there are no published criteria or guidelines for making such a judgement. You can’t second [...]

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 [...]

Recent articles

in Comment

Wonders of creativity

Laura Gascoigne investigates why what was once so very special is now common as muck and comprehensively commandeered by the fat controllers In The Masque of Augurs, Ben Jonson introduces the comic figure of Vangoose, a “rare artist” and producer of masques with a reputation for the wildly fantastical. “Now we would bring in some dainty new thing, dat never [...]

in Comment

Turning Wool into money … or fool’s gold

Eric Coombes responds to an editorial about the art cash cow Is a celebrity a person ‘famous for being famous’, or merely ‘someone in the media that one had never heard of’. Despite being obscure – in this paradoxical and mysterious mode of obscurity – celebrities, however ill-informed and stupid they might be, are entitled to have their ‘opinions’ widely [...]

in Comment

The triumph of avant-garde lite

Edward Lucie-Smith charts the decline of contemporary art from Modernism and the avant garde to being a mere epiphenomenon of the fashion industry Ten days or so ago, before beginning to write this, I was idly browsing a slightly out-of-date copy of the Evening Standard Magazine. Anything to avoid the toil of having to write something myself. Faute de mieux, [...]

in Comment

‘The Late’ shows

Edward Lucie-Smith considers the phenomenon of ‘The Late Style’ in relation to Rembrandt and Turner The new Rembrandt show at the National Gallery in London (until January 18th) is clearly meant to challenge the enormous success the same institution enjoyed with its recent exhibition devoted to Leonardo da Vinci. It is a populist homage to one of the undoubted giants [...]

in Essays

Do real artists still paint flowers?

Patrick Cullen explains the enduring appeal of paintings requiring only to be looked at I showed some paintings of flowers I had done recently to a friend. He said he quite liked them but they appeared to create a problem for him. He seemed to feel that flowers were no longer a subject for serious artists, more one for Sunday [...]

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, [...]