London: the place for a painter

This article

​ is essentially a follow-up to a piece by The Jackdaw’s editor David Lee, published in The Times on July 25th of this year. In it he detailed

just what
a fiasco the Arts Council’s contribution to an otherwise successful Olympic

sales in Shanghai will take /* 9-970x90 */ place this autumn. “In addition to fine art auctions,” they announced, “we will also bring exhibitions, art forums, private sales and other exciting events to Shanghai, offering collectors in China a more direct access

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to our global network and expertise.”

The big international art stars, some of them British, on the whole continue to flourish, supported by what one can only describe as warehouse collectors – hoarders and accumulators of work by a relatively small group of ‘approved’ contemporary

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artists, though it is increasingly noticeable that most of those who reliably make huge prices are now safely dead: Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat. There was a delicious incident last May when the extremely rich London diamond dealer Laurence Graff (net worth $4.3 billion according to Forbes) fought off considerable saleroom competition to buy a Lichtenstein google_ad_width = 970; canvas entitled Woman with Flowered google_ad_slot = "7160667483"; Hat for $56.1 million including fees. The

painting, dated 1963, is in fact just a fairly faithful copy of a Picasso of the

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same title dated 1939-40, though now with cartoon-strip dots. The Picasso itself probably wouldn’t have fetched quite as much.

There are, nevertheless, a few signs of cracks in the cement. Damien Hirst, once a darling of this market, is opening a hugely ambitious exhibition in Qatar this coming October, even bigger and grander than the one he held in Olympic Year at Tate Modern. However, as Jonathan Brown, once a big fan of Damien, reported in The Guardian in November of last year: “According to figures from the international art company Artnet quoted in an article in Bloomberg Businessweek works by Hirst produced in his most google_ad_height = 90; lucrative period between 2005 and the £111m direct sale of his art in 2008 have sold for nearly 30 per cent less than google_ad_height = 90; their original purchase price. Since 2009 one in three of the 1,700 pieces offered at auction has failed to sell at all.”

There are other indications of stress. Hirst has

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parted company with the powerful Gagosian Gallery, which used to represent him worldwide. Recently, both the press and the Internet have been strangely silent about Hirst’s project for a personal museum in Vauxhall. This was announced with

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a great flourish of publicity in May of last year. It is meant to open
in 2014. The most recent mention I can find on the Web /* xin-1 */ dates from as long ago as October 2012. There

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is currently no mention of the museum on Hirst’s elaborate personal web site, either in the News section or the Projects section, or elsewhere.

Meanwhile the google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; Tate, which was quite a faithful supporter of Hirst during the boom years, and which owns a not inconsiderable number of examples of his work, though usually fairly trivial ones, has been seized with a huge enthusiasm for Performance Art. One can quite see the rationale for this – it is in intention populist. No inconvenient legacy of objects is attached to the programme – one gets the impression that the google_ad_height = 90; Tate’s storerooms are bursting at the seams. Each Performance Art event is just that – an event, which supplies a springboard for another burst of publicity, and makes the institution look active not passive, virtuous and involved with society.

[caption id="attachment_1363" align="alignleft" width="460"] wp-image-1363" title="cultural-olympiad" src="http://www.thejackdaw.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/cultural-olympiad.jpg" alt="" width="460" height="288" srcset="http://www.thejackdaw.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/cultural-olympiad.jpg 460w, http://www.thejackdaw.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/cultural-olympiad-300x187.jpg 300w, http://www.thejackdaw.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/cultural-olympiad-87x55.jpg 87w" sizes="(max-width: 460px) 100vw, 460px" /> Cultural Olympiad launch[/caption]

The problem is

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that this initiative, though it hasn’t fallen quite as catastrophically flat as the Cultural Olympiad, has failed to catch fire with the public. If you are looking for ‘official’ google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; successes then the German-Punjabi (but born in Britain) Tino Sehgal, who did an ambitious interactive performance piece
EMAIL:baiwei5000@126.com
at Tate Modern last year, is the hottest thing there is: Golden Lion
at the current Venice Biennale, nomination
for the Turner Prize, five-star review from The Guardian. Yet major public enthusiasm has been lacking. Maybe the reason for this was nailed down in another (but only three-star) review, by Alastair Sooke in the Daily Telegraph. “There is an atmosphere of
ritual, “ he said, “but the rules of the game are not apparent.”

This, perhaps without the writer being completely aware of it, puts a finger on an aspect of contemporary art that I find disturbing. It is well on its way to becoming a substitute religion, with museums as its cathedrals (Tate Modern, Pompidou, MOMA in New York), curators as its priesthood, and charismatic or would-be charismatic artists as its shamans and miracle workers. The process started with Joseph Beuys and reached a recent peak of publicity with Marina Abramovic’s 2010 //--> retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Random visitors to the show were invited to
sit on a hard chair directly opposite the artist, seated on a similar chair, and to stare at her for as long as they liked, though they were forbidden to talk. Many of the participants – but not the artist – were so moved by the
experience that they burst into tears.

Today you don’t have to go barefoot

day equivalent of Paris in the 1920s. One reason for this is that it has the most complete roster of facilities – world-class museums, major commercial galleries,

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art fairs catering to every level, from the big names to artists just at the beginning of their careers, who are trying to

own, unconsciously condescending terms. Tracey and Damien may

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still be capable of causing a flurry in the tabloids, or be ready to star in an issue of Hello! Their credibility among the younger generation of London artists has long departed. It’s not so much that their juniors dislike what they do – it’s more that they feel //--> no real connection with the once dominant YBAs. “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there,” as the novelist L.P. Hartley once said. In this case a country where the 1997 Sensation! show looked  wonderfully new and exciting. Three years from
now there will be kids starting in art school who weren’t born when Sensation! happened.

It’s the fate of all once-established avant-gardes to be overtaken and left behind. The one constant in the art world we now have is a perpetual appetite for change. Radical change is what seems to be happening now. Zavier Ellis, of the gallery Charlie Smith London, who is the best informed person I know when it comes to surveying the younger end of the London art world, and I have been preparing an iBook called 100 London Artists. For reasons of space and convenience,‘100 London Artists’ has been divided into two volumes, each featuring the work of 50 google_ad_width = 970; artists, mostly in their twenties and

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thirties. It should appear in time for the upcoming Frieze art fair. These fifty artists are all painters – not because we have any particular bias in favour of painting, as opposed to other forms of visual expression, but because there is now such an abundance of gifted young painters at work here in London. So much so that it has been really difficult to choose. Zavier and I are google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; the technological radicals, choosing to make a digital book rather than something in print on paper. Our subjects have found something new – to be exact, many new things – in
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