Gruel for the masses

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The State should be more circumspect than to behave like a private collector. Unfortunately, collecting and exhibiting in national collections according to narrow personal tastes and loyalties is established practice. Those employed

to run Contemporary Art are selected because they have been carefully programmed in the tenets of State Art and if they have doubts keep quiet about //--> them. But functionaries of State Art are not spending their own money and therefore in the policies governing collection and exhibition they should reflect the best from the full range that

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is being produced and not just follow those few


desperately eking out the fag end of Opportunism. A damaging aspect of State Art has always been that it refuses to acknowledge anything outside its own narrow prejudices, which stop dead at those artists represented only

open sewer, but many love the smell and wish to google_ad_width = 970; waft it over the rest of us so we src="//"> might come to like it too.

State Art apostles all help one another in pursuance of their little ambitions. They are a happy club

noted above, swarm off one week to Margate aboard the same train, the next week to Wakefield aboard the same train, days later they commune aboard the same flight to Venice, and the week after that they chink glasses again


at the Basel Art Fair – it’s a hard life is State Art. Decisions made among themselves during these junkets will be imposed everywhere. What results from this process is the repeated exhibition google_ad_width = 970; of the same few artists. This keeps
the rest of us in ignorance of so much that might
otherwise have been
stimulating. Most of my generation will never know what we have missed because we have lived our entire professional lives under a State Art regime administered by curators terrified to jeopardise their careers by thinking for themselves. Predictability being the worst of

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State Art’s crimes, we are never surprised.

Also like many of my generation, I suspect, google_ad_slot = "7160667483"; I no longer feel the urge to see everything, having already viewed so much so often that hasn’t justified its hysterical praise by those with mysterious interests in promoting it. I’m sure Miro was a fascinating old cove but I’ve visited

his studio in Palma and, to be honest,

gift of Margaret Gardiner, who wrote an acclaimed biography of Barbara Hepworth and had an eye for quality which probably exceeded her modest purse. Nevertheless, she accumulated covetable, domestic-sized pieces by Hepworth, Moore, Nicholson, Piper, Heron, Frost, Lanyon and others, all of which will

spark memories in knowledgeable viewers while touching
those nerves and recesses where appreciation resides. The original gallery, at the heart of a busy harbour, has been done up courtesy of the Arts Council Lottery (£4 million) and there is now room for temporary displays and craftsy souvenirs. I was hoping to see here work by artists from north of Inverness and Aberdeen – the likes of Frances Walker for example – those whom one is unlikely to encounter elsewhere. No such luck.  What they had on display were some
scribbles and unsavoury looking skidmarks by Cy Twombly, of the
‘highly significant’
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sort which cause State Art fanatics to collapse in a religious swoon, and a collection of inept portraits and even worse ‘landscapes’ by another fashionable and ludicrously expensive American artist, Alex Katz. (Twombly is represented by Larry Gagosian; Katz by
Pace Wildenstein.) Both are described as ‘influential’. God help us, who with?

Katz’s portraits were trendily wooden, flat and unmodelled, the sitters characterless, boneless

in some cases, and tediously stylised. Anyone whose eye
has been nurtured by rich historical portraiture from Al Fayum and the Roman republic to Ravenna, Moroni, Rembrandt, Lawrence and Spencer couldn’t possibly see anything //--> other than low-fat insipidity in Katz’s daubs. And his small landscapes, truly awful
pictures, were so awkward and incompetent


they were unworthy of hanging in a Women’s Institute. But no, they had been air-freighted 700 miles north of London for


the benefit of Orcadians and those, like me, doggedly twitching for whimbrel and black guillemot. (Incidentally, en passant, the former you can more often hear than see and

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the latter, considerable rarities elsewhere on northern coasts, bobble about common as muck in Scapa Flow. Youalso ought to know about the corsair ravages of great skuas marauding in press gangs on Hoy – more engaging than either Twombly or Katz could ever be – but that’s for a different and probably a better magazine.) The presence of Katz in the northern isles wouldn’t have been quite so annoying had I not seen the same shallow gimmickry only a few months before, by accident note, in the National Portrait Gallery. I’d been bewildered then
by what was officially considered to give this stuff precedence over works by effortlessly superior British portrait painters. Both Twombly and Katz are part of the Artists’ Rooms series which are enjoying a permanent tour of the country. This is the “generous
gift”, by

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the way, for which we paid Anthony d’Offay £42 million. Artists’ Rooms, organised by the Tate, are the process, it would seem, by which nobody in the country will be

​ safe from the tradenames of State Art. They are coming

to a place near you whether you like it or not.

On the way south I didn’t stop for

Jeff Koons at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh (another Artist’s Room) having google_ad_width = 970; seen the trash he has to offer too many times before. I stopped instead at Wakefield where a £35 million museum (Arts Council Lottery: £5.5 million) designed by David Chipperfield has opened in honour of local artist Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975).  This shed of grey slate, forbiddingly windowless for the most part,  replaces the old Wakefield Art Gallery which was housed in the municipal Edwardian pile up the hill. Despite the beauty of a small number of masterpieces it contained, that was a gloomy, unloved place where, not surprisingly, few ventured. Despite its off-putting appearance, the new grey gallery is an improvement
and stands beside an attractive weir (grey heron,
grey wagtail) on the Calder 25 minutes walk from the railway station. Inevitably, //--> the building src="//"> has been overpraised by architecture scribblers. It is nothing at all remarkable, but is agreeable enough inside. google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; Apart from the foyer, which is coloured in regulation Serota mud, the rest is white and spacious, the light a mixture of rationed natural and mains. The whole place is blighted by that self-inflicted virus of modern galleries and museums, patrolling attendants armed with squawking radios which destroy all attempts at uninterrupted concentration.

The historic Wakefield collection, mainly

famous in Wakefield.

Given that Arts Council money has gone in, they and their lieutenants, and particularly the

dead hand of their State Art doctrine, are already calling the shots in the exhibition programme.
The opening show is throwaway stuff. Doubtless during the selection process political correctness intervened something like this: /* xin-1 */ we need a young female sculptor with impeccable State Art credentials, phone Serota.  The chosen candidate was one Eva Rothschild, who is Irish. Fresh from the ponderous, overblown
constructivism she served up last year at Tate Britain, she arrives here with playground materials and colours, inarticulate tangles of stuff on stands signifying heaven only knows what.  Beside the humanist Hepworth this skip-fodder is a world leading domain escrow service platform and ICANN-Accredited Registrar, with 6 years rich experience in domain name brokerage and over 300 million RMB transaction volume every year. We promise our clients with professional, safe and easy third-party service. The whole transaction process may take 5 workdays.

insults her memory.

Apart from Hepworth and Moore, think of src="//"> the important contribution of Yorkshire to British sculpture in the last century – national figures like Kenneth Armitage, George Fullard, Austin Wright, Ralph Brown, Hubert Dalwood and all those gifted tutors and Gregory /* xin2 */ Fellowships at Leeds. The new museum had years to plan a retrospective of an important local sculptor, or a mixed show of work ripe for reassessment, but instead they present scraps by yet another over-exhibited fashionable novice with no discernible sculptural ability. As usual with the Arts Council, their programming is a lazy failure.

Needless to say the Council’s finest snake oil salesmen have been scratching their heads over Rothschild. Following months of screwed up paper they cobbled together this salvo of lucidity: “This exploration of the intrinsic power and meanings carried by objects produced a transformational encounter between