Editorial – May 2017


In recent issues I’ve described how since 1945 the education, bureaucracy and exponentially increasing cash for the visual arts have been usurped and dominated by an evolving one-track mindset which, in these pages, is called State Art. This sinister subversion of the institutions, predicted before and after the last war by Eliot,


Wyndham Lewis and Orwell among others, is complete with the recent appointment of Doctor Balshaw as overall Director of the Tate (see last editorial). She understands nothing but that which
is ‘Contemporary’, a qualification (if that is an appropriate description) which makes her uniquely unsuitable for running three galleries with what should be

and monopoly has condemned any would-be non-conformist to immediate ostracism. The predictable

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chorus of positive src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> opinion at the appointment of Dr Quack is evidence of this common fear of being targeted as a “jarring dissonant” and the career disaster it portends. Her inadequacies are blindingly obvious but who in the arts commentariat actually mentioned them?

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is now a terror in the visual arts of google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; telling even a fraction of the truth. Thus has State Art been allowed to prosper in a parallel universe impenetrable to public interest and criticism which renders its functionaries untouchable and self-perpetuating, and – like Moonies – eternally pleased with themselves.


Dr Q’s appointment, and the earlier elevation of a contemporary art specialist to head Tate Britain, the takeover of the institutions is complete. We have /* xin-1 */ arrived at Dutschke’s Year Zero. The art of Now has become its own justification, //--> as if nothing before matters. This is the curious process by which an uncoupled past has become an irrelevance.

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If it
goes in any direction
at all the story of
art now travels backwards, and not very far google_ad_slot = "8637400688"; back at that. State Art-approved galleries

perverse in an institution which began life in 1897 as the National Gallery of British Art ­– which was, incidentally, run until 1954 by the National Gallery.

Tate Britain today is heading relentlessly in the direction of becoming a museum of Modern and Contemporary British art google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; with some history attached. If you have a person in charge whose knowledge stretches back only to the week

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before last this continued drift is inevitable.

The space for work before 1920 is constantly being squeezed. Currently the building is split into three parts. The vast middle strip, the Duveen Galleries, is customarily wasted promoting an over-rated contemporary. At the moment it is google_ad_width = 970; White Cuber Cerith Wyn Evans with sprawling, incoherent patterns of white neon tubing signifying only he knows what. A ‘Senior Curator of Contemporary Art’ writes of this piece on an ‘information’ board: “In this commission CWE has

responded to the space of the Duveen Galleries by creating
a neon installation
which focuses on /* 9-970x90 */ ideas around the folds and flows of energy via material and immaterial conduits.” Only the author knows


what that

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means. So the gallery’s middle third is wasted.

The eastern third is modern British art

since roughly 1920, much of it minor and nearly all of it illustrative of the
Modernist Creed. At the far end Hockney currently occupies galleries which usually act as a graveyard for the latest Turner Prize. In the front corner is the Turner annexe, now


also used to house Constables


used to live in what is a new ‘installation’ space.

The western third used to be all history and

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is the most popular section. Visited but not crowded it is a perfect place to study those pictures which are hung well enough for the

purpose; that //--> is, low enough and /* xin2 */ not skied as many paintings are here. A shop has intruded at the south end to make way for an
‘Art Now’ gallery on the ‘modern’ side where the shop used to be. Large installation google_ad_width = 970; spaces and a photography gallery have also cut