Serpentine Gallery extension: limousines are good causes

Serpentine Gallery extension: limousines are good causes

What is the difference between a line of black limousines at a Mob funeral in Brooklyn and an identical cavalcade at the opening party of the new Serpentine Gallery annexe in Hyde Park? Well, not as much as you’d think. Although Cosa Nostra are undoubtedly the subtler of the two coteries represented, both have a common interest in protection rackets. [...]

Olympic legacy: money for nothing

Olympic legacy: money for nothing

I am not happy again. We have become used to hearing weekly wails of distress from the Arts Council about how broke they are followed by melodramatic predictions of the cultural desert awaiting as punishment for state parsimony. It is their belief they should be exempted from the austerity allegedly endured elsewhere. Their moans receive sympathetic hearings from a press [...]

Beyond criticism

Beyond criticism

Laura Gascoigne demonstrates how Artbollocks is now recognised as a joke among almost everyone excepting the time-serving devotees of State Art. In January the Guardian’s G2 section published an article by Andy Beckett titled ‘Er, anyone know what transversal means’? It reported on the publication in an American art journal last year of an essay identifying a unique form of [...]

Another great artist ignored

Another great artist ignored

Of the 183 works by John Piper in the Tate’s collection none is currently on display. One of the major British artists of early Modernism does not have a single item of his work on show in the national collection of British art, of which, incidentally, he was once considered sufficiently eminent to serve as a trustee. How could such [...]

Carl Randall – easel words

Carl Randall – easel words

Recent paintings made in Japan will be showing at my exhibition ‘In The Footsteps of Hiroshige: The Tokaido Highway and Portraits of Modern Japan’, at the National Portrait Gallery from June 20th to September 15th (then touring the UK until May 2014). The exhibition is the result of being awarded the 2012 BP Portrait Award. My proposal for the award [...]

Evelyn Williams, and another case of the public denied

Evelyn Williams, and another case of the public denied

In the last issue I considered the case of a single-minded good artist,  David Mulholland from Middlesbrough, whose memory, in the absence of any official recognition or support, has to be kindled for posterity’s sake by friends and family. By The Jackdaw’s usual standard of eliciting no comment whatsoever, this caused a considerable mailbag from many mentioning other artists who [...]

Tate trustees and the public interest

Tate trustees and the public interest

In 2011 the Tate named two new trustees, one of whom is painter Tomma Abts. She is a 44-year-old German, recently appointed Professor of Painting at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, who won the Turner Prize in 2006. As an artist trustee, she replaced Jeremy Deller, who won the Turner Prize in 2004. Abts’s paintings are all the same small size [...]

Recent articles

in Comment

The Art Fund subverted: they were only playing leapfrog

The separate bodies contributing to State Art are now so interrelated, so cosily acquainted, their personnel so readily interchangeable and of identical mindset, that they might as well join forces. (… Liz Forgan is sacked from the Arts Council but remains a Trustee of the Art Fund; James Lingwood swallows his annual  million from the Arts Council and also sits [...]

in Comment

100 Works of Art That Will Define Our Age

Kelly Grovier, Thames & Hudson, £35 Every now and then a book about contemporary art appears which informs it audience in ways that neither the author nor the publisher probably quite intended. This seems to be the case with Kelly Grovier’s 100 Works of Art That Will Define Our Age, newly published by Thames & Hudson, just in time for [...]

in Leader

Bob Dylan at the National Portrait Gallery

THE LINE IT IS DRAWN … BADLY The now routine phenomenon of paintings by celebrities shown in serious galleries defies belief. You’d think they’d be sniffy about this sort of populist stunt; and you’d be wrong. However bad the work is people swarm to see it, hexed by the name. Photos and paintings by pop stars and television personalities attract [...]

in Comment

Bone idleness at the Tate

For the last meeting of Tate trustees of which minutes have been posted on line (i.e. September 2012), only six of fourteen members bothered to show up. Perhaps it was raining. Trustees, you won’t need reminding, are there to oversee the vigilant running of quangos to ensure public interest is looked after. This is important when the Tate costs taxpayers [...]

in Comment

Of cabbages and queens

This is the third portrait of the Queen unveiled in London in the last month … and the third dud. A dull formal portrait, it follows the standard, now threadbare iconography for a picture of standing royalty. Indeed, it seems every monarch since George III has been portrayed with a hand on that table. Like the ghosts of Banquo you [...]

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Manet at the Royal Academy

Seven years ago the Courtauld Institute mounted a thrilling exhibition by showing only two works by Manet. Admittedly they were both undoubted masterpieces, the Barmaid at the Folies Bergere of 1883 and The Luncheon from Munich of 1868. It demonstrated that an absorbing experience could be staged with the import of only one picture. We all know what a brilliant, [...]

in Leader

Bargain basement royal portraiture

This is the portrait of an intelligent, thoughtful and educated sitter with no less than a degree in art history. It is perfectly adequate for the boardroom of a supermarket but entirely inadequate for a national collection. Kate deserves better. We deserve better too, and so does the future. This commission – Kate’s first official portrait – demanded an artist, [...]

in Comment

In the course of justice

Damien Hirst has loaned for 20 years to the north Devon seaside resort of Ilfracombe – in which he has one of his many residences – a 20-metre high sculpture of a pregnant woman wielding a sword and scales, called Verity. Made of glass fibre with a bronze effect finish (which is a bit tacky-Essex even by Hirst’s usual vulgar [...]

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Faking it

“Maybe a man’s name doesn’t matter all that much.” (Orson Welles in F For Fake) As so many gifted painters have discovered to their cost, having an unusual talent is not necessarily a passport to a meteoric career. So many whose abilities deserve to be recognised, or at the very least acknowledged, struggle cruelly in obscurity if not in the [...]

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Rothko vandalism

Last year it was Poussin in the National Gallery, this year Rothko at the Tate. There will have been other examples of vandalism in between these which galleries hushed up, and it is likely that you wouldn’t have known about the Rothko episode had it not been witnessed and photographed. Museums don’t like admitting to attacks on their collections because [...]