Multinational art

In the dash to google_ad_height = 90; internationalism the national is trampled underfoot, argues Laura Gascoigne.

In November, Lund Humphries celebrated 75

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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 Iwona Blazwick from the Whitechapel, Emma Dexter from the British Council and artists Nathan Coley and Yinka Shonibare. Don’t ask /* 9-970x90 */ me what was said, as the

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event was so oversubscribed I couldn’t get a ticket.

British art is on a bit of google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; a roll. True, no YBAs

made it onto ArtReview’s Power 100
list last year, but Cameron’s gift google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; to his new ‘bro’ Obama of a Henry Moore print of Stonehenge did seem to reflect a newfound confidence in our national art. It certainly upped the ante on the special gift-giving relationship after the boxed set of
classic American film DVDs presented by Obama to Gordon Brown in 2009. But while national pride
in the art of the past still seems permissible, it has
Russia & Eastern
Europe – are in the pipeline.

It was

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Serota’s cultivation of a global powerbase, rather than his winning personality, that
won him top spot in last year’s Power 100. “Tate Modern very aggressively internationalized quite quickly,” explained ArtReview’s editor Mark Rappolt. “It is not a national collection, //--> it is an
international collection that happens to be in London.” Like the British Museum, in other words, except that the nations from which the Tate is acquiring this stuff are unlikely to hire Mrs Clooney to get it back.

In our hyper-connected world,

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global art is a development as unavoidable as global terrorism. But whereas global terrorism has a clear idea what it’s about, global art is undecided. At the moment it’s professing anti-capitalism in a general, innocuous sort of way. Enwezor’s Venice exhibition will open with a live reading of all four volumes of Marx’s Das Kapital, “building into an epic display of orality”. Groan if you will, but Enwezor is a global
player with a bunch of biennials under his belt. He curated the Lagos section of Tate Modern’s Century City in 2001 and was responsible for fellow-Nigerian Meschac Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997-2002 – “challenging ideas of an authentic ‘African’ experience” – that took
over several rooms of

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Tate Modern in 2013. I remember it as a pleasantly shambolic collection of

​ brightly coloured ephemera with interleaved bank notes google_ad_height = 90; representing capital. When the rooms were cleared, the Museum was put into storage. It was an early purchase by the //--> African Acquisitions Committee.

I’m wary of art acquisition by committee, believing that great collections are formed by

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individuals, but acquisition by foreign art committee – if
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you can still say ‘foreign’ – is far more worrying. On its leader page the Russian-owned London Evening Standard welcomed the Tate’s 2012 announcement of its international activities on the grounds that its ambition to “build itself up as an international brand… can only help to add to London’s image in the world”. Hang on there, /* xin2 */ Lebedev. Tate & Lyle is an international brand. The Tate is, or was, a national art gallery. It is

part of national history,” wrote
the Russian critic Boris Groys a few years ago. “There is a global art market, but there are no international institutions.” The src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> Tate aims to change that. Assuming its extension is ever finished – and mothballing it would take a mountain of camphor – its internationalism may give it short-term
novelty appeal. If it succeeds, other national galleries will follow and the world will be dotted with multinational outlets offering sameness rather than diversity in the name of universality. What will be lost in translation will be local dialects, the nuances of expression peculiar
to art that is rooted in a shared culture in a particular place.

The test of universality in art is not its ubiquity but its ability to communicate on a human level across cultures. Here’s what the cosmopolitan Kitaj had to say on the

subject: “I have a hunch that pictures only

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achieve universal interest by way of the muddle of obsessed

attentions (the stuff

that excites one in life) to which a very skilled painter exposes his or her picture… That attention might be variously Christian, African, Neurotic, Alien, Decorative, deeply English or any complex sensibility – you name it, but I wouldn’t trust an art too much if it was
damn well determined to be
universal google_ad_width = 970; like Esperanto, which a lot of art now google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; looks like… because you are what you are and what can be

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more human than that?”