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‘Sculpture’ v. 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 […]

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Do you feel patronised?

Crossing the centre of Manchester recently heading for the match, an old friend asked me to step inside a handsome Victorian mill considered the Medici Palace of Cottonopolis.  He’d worked on the conversion of this pile years before and hadn’t forgotten the impression a particular bronze made on him as he entered the building each morning. Although he admits to […]

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Museums – our national genius

I may frequently express criticisms about their finer workings but British museums and galleries are generally superbly run. Heroic efforts are made to minimise the impact of funding cuts so that even regular visitors will notice little or no impact. From looking at the outward face of our museums you would never guess the country was in anything like the […]

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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 […]

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Are you disadvantaged?

The Department of Culture recently published a White Paper, the first from that department since Jennie Lee’s in 1965, and apparently only its second ever. This chic pamphlet, in truth more PR exercise than policy document, prominently contains that new-age mantra, “access must be increased for those from disadvantaged backgrounds”. The Arts Council also write this sort of optimistic guff, […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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‘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 […]

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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 […]