Laura Gascoigne: The Art Police – November 2017

If you’re thinking of committing an art crime, now’s your moment. google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; In June budgetary pressures forced the ‘temporary’ closure of

axes to grind. For the moment different factions are content to share the benefits of affirmative action with other ‘minorities’. (Don’t you love it when women get classed as a minority?) But believe
me, they’ll soon be scrapping like ferrets in a sack over the dismembered body of White Male Art.

Of course it’s true that WMAs have had it

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all their own way for far too long and, yes

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Guerilla Girls, if women

between the male and female artists represented. For the /* xin-1 */ moment, the

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reach of the levellers has not extended beyond contemporary art, a few misbegotten historical statues excepted. That’s a
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can of worms I won’t open here, except google_ad_height = 90; to agree with Lionel Shriver’s recent observation in the Spectator: “Applying today’s demanding standards of rectitude
to previous generations – requiring all past notables to have embraced racial equality, feminism, disability rights, anti-colonialism, non-smoking and gender-fluidity means pulling down virtually google_ad_height = 90; every statue standing.” (I would also like to plead that
if male memorials are google_ad_width = 970; to be replaced with female ones, can they please not be ‘sculpted’ by Gillian Wearing.)

What started me on this subject was being asked to write about two historical male artists who were lamentably far from meeting Shriver’s criteria. First Ernst Haeckel, the 19th century German biologist and illustrator whose breathtaking watercolours of marine invertebrates helped to

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launch Art Nouveau and are the subject of a new book from Taschen. Haeckel’s paintings were astonishingly beautiful but his views on race were shockingly objectionable.

Child abuse: check. Cultural appropriation: check. Passing on the clap to healthy young women: let’s not go there.

The difficulty

here is that art is funky. If the Tate examined google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; its conscience it would have to confess that misbehaviour adds to an artist’s appeal. How else did the bad boys and girls google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; of Britart awaken public interest in the Turner Prize? Since the subset-appeasers took over running the show, it’s become so boring it has had to be exiled to

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Hull. Sooner or later our publicly funded galleries are going to have to face google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; up to

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this conflict
of interest because, as night follows day, where positive discrimination src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> leads negative follows.

Art has a long and venerable tradition of pretending

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to serve morality while

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undermining it; our Victorian ancestors led the world in double standards and we should learn
from them before it’s too late. //--> Step one in confronting censorship is to separate the
art maker from the art.

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To quote Liz Taylor, who

had experience in these matters:
“The problem with people who have no vices is that generally

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you can be pretty sure that they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.” Virtuous people need to be kept away from art, from its production and, ideally, from its management. With the exception of a few monochrome canvases, art has never been whiter than white. Should galleries be ‘safe spaces’? Hell no! Virtue-signalling holds up a false mirror to the messy reality art is supposed to reflect. In the immortal words of the love-struck millionaire to the gender-fluid Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot: “Nobody’s perfect”.

Laura Gascoigne
The Jackdaw Nov/Dec 2017