Essays

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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 […]

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Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain… he lied!

            Read pdf: Duchamp’s Fountain

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Freedom of expression

  ALEXANDER ADAMS rehearses recent arguments concerning freedom of expression before arriving at his own conclusion.   “One person with a belief is equal to a force of 99 who have only interests.” JOHN STUART MILL       On February 14th, 2015 an Islamist gunman attacked a café in Copenhagen where a debate on free speech was being held. […]

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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 […]

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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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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]