Laura Gascoigne: Tainted by Experience – March 2017

When the former controller of BBC Radio 3 John Drummond published an autobiography in 2001, he called it ‘Tainted by Experience’ – an ironic reference to the reason given by a Birtist suit at the Beeb for his being ‘let go’

As it happens, Northumbria University Gallery is now itself under new management since
its director of 38 years’ standing, Mara Helen Wood, was ‘let go’ by the university executive for being similarly ‘T by E’, //--> as reported by Varley on these pages last year.

Following the revolt of ‘the people’ against ‘the experts’ currently convulsing google_ad_height = 90; western democracies, we face the prospect – src="//"> daunting or exhilarating, depending which side of the populist fence you’re on – of an expert-free future. If this is a revolution, as

some people
seem to think, then post-modern art has long been
in its vanguard. Ever google_ad_width = 970; since Marcel Duchamp (or Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, take your pick) pissed on the art experts with Fountain in 1917, expertise in art has been google_ad_slot = "7160667483"; a dirty word. This src="//"> causes particular problems for avant-garde painters, since paint, unlike sanitary ware, is an impressionable substance that too readily absorbs the taint of experience. As a measure of contemporary artists’ desperation, an exhibition /* 9-970x90 */ of young Canadian painters at Pippy Houldsworth in 2008 was
titled Learned

Process Overview:


The fashion for bedroom painting, currently running in tandem with the fashion for lumber-room sculpture, appears to support Joseph Beuys’ egalitarian philosophy that “everyone is an artist”. Technique is not the only casualty of this ostensible democratisation; knowledge of

art history is another victim. In Elizabeth Fullerton’s Artrage: The

For detailed process, you can “visit here” or contact

Inside Story of the Britart Revolution, Liam Gillick says of his Goldsmiths generation: “We didn’t sit around talking about El Greco… It’s as if we started without any history”. The blanking of history was about more than democratisation; it was a bid by ambitious young artists to turn over a
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they just started with a lot
less of it. They referred, deferred
even, to history as reverently as the German Expressionists who copied El Greco; the difference was that they


refused to look further back than Duchamp. And so, in the place of newness, we got repetition. Those who fish for
ideas in a small art historical pond are bound to keep catching the same old fish others have put back. I’m in perfect agreement with Roland Barthes’ claim in The Death of the Author that there’s no such thing as google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; original creation since we all draw on a “ready-formed dictionary”, but it google_ad_width = 970; follows that the shorter the
dictionary, the more restricted the creative

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Last year’s Turner Prize exhibition was admittedly an improvement, but it has long felt as if the jury is operating a points system whereby nominees are
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every reference to a post-modern forbear. Rather than democratising contemporary art, this sort of specialist reference-spotting is as much a game for an art-educated
elite as identifying classical allusions once was for a cultivated audience of Renaissance humanists. What it produces is elitism on the cheap, shorn of the

No mention of improving knowledge.

In an interview in the Guardian

last September, James Flynn – the veteran American academic who revolutionised our understanding of human google_ad_slot = "8637400688"; intelligence by demonstrating that environment is the dominant influence on IQ – was asked how, given the steady google_ad_height = 90; global rise in average

​ IQ scores since the 1930s, Americans could have

elected Donald Trump as President. His explanation was that “the rise of visual culture means far fewer people read serious novels and history. They live in a bubble of the present, believing what they are told because they have nothing to position it against.”

I agree about the ‘bubble