Recent articles

in Comment

Just think

Laura Gascoigne wonders if the artists who purport to be thinkers are any good at thinking. “I think, therefore I am.” “I think differently, therefore I am an artist.” To traditionalists it may already seem that the entire art world has arrived at destination Hell in a handcart and there is nowhere further to go, but actually the journey isn’t […]

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Poor man’s guide to art investing – don’t

Wisely, Laura Gascoigne is unconvinced by art as investment. Equestrian statues of one sort or another are becoming a regular fixture on the Fourth Plinth. In 2012 we had Elmgreen & Dragset’s paedophile’s delight of the boy on the gilded rocking horse; next up in 2015 will be Hans Haacke’s equine skeleton, inspired by Stubbs, with a live ticker of […]

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Archive fever

Artists have re-discovered the cabinet of curiosities, which is to their and our advantage, argues Laura Gascoigne. “There really is no such thing as art. There are only artists.” Easy enough to say at a time of rationing when there are few varieties of artist about. When Gombrich made his famous statement in 1950 there were only painters, sculptors, the […]

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Building brands, ruining reputations – Laura Gascoigne on the Tate

Nothing is too squalid for Brand Tate, argues Laura Gascoigne. ‘Change the name and not the letter, change for the worse and not the better,’ ran the old wives’ saw on choosing a husband. Nowadays, in the wider world of consumer choice, a change of name is almost always a change for the worse. Whenever a familiar product is rebranded, […]

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Mind the funding gap – Laura Gascoigne on NEDs and philanthropy

It may have been the heat, but in the lead-up to the summer recess accusations of conflict of interest were flying around Whitehall like frisbees. First the PM’s Aussie electioneer Lynton Crosby was outed as a lobbyist for Big Tobacco just as the government announced its decision that plain cigarette packaging represented a danger to public health until proved otherwise, […]

in Essays

David Jones – painter Desmond Sloane on an important British artist and poet

Painter Desmond Sloane rehearses the career of an important British artist and poet who fought in the trenches and whose work is too often overlooked. ‘Part of me, the artist within me, has never left the trenches.’ So wrote the artist and poet David Jones about his service as a front line soldier in the First World War. Jones was […]

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The spin of art

Michael Daley describes how the main players in State Art have taken spin to a new level. Many people remain in awe at the legendary manipulative means by which the political spinmaster, Alastair Campbell, delivered to successive New Labour governments the media coverage they craved. What is not sufficiently appreciated is that compared with art world practitioners of those dark […]

in Essays

William Orpen reappraised

Painter John Nutt reappraises the forgotten and routinely maligned William Orpen. Largely for historical and religious reasons, the Irish have been persistently marginalised in British society. Orpen was the youngest of five children of a prosperous Irish Protestant solicitor. He was born in 1878 in Oriel House, Grove Avenue, Stilorgan near Dublin, where he enjoyed a comfortable middle class Irish […]

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Grayson Perry’s 2014 Reith Lectures – a missed opportunity

Patrick Cullen explains why Grayson Perry missed an opportunity by avoiding the important issues he claimed to be addressing. Grayson Perry was a surprising choice to deliver the Reith Lectures given the list of senior academics, elder statesmen and those at the top of their profession preceding him in the job. One wondered why, when it came to contemporary art […]

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Charity vaunteth not itself … except sometimes

Friend of the Royal Academy, James Birkin, believes the RA is neither open nor giving enough considering its charitable status; and overly concerned with business.   It is said that a true friend will speak truth unto power. How sad then that the Friends of the Royal Academy are denied the chance to do just this. Recent correspondence with this […]