I have lost that lovin’ feeling

Anyone that knows me knows I love contemporary art. It’s my thing. After all this blog is named after my favourite artists most famous piece of work.

Now on Sunday I read this article in the Times. that got me thinking again about a worrying feeling that I have long tried to repress.

I do not like contemporary art anymore.

Yes. Boom. There. I have said it.

Contemporary art is not doing it for me anymore. It’s quite alarming, I am even drawn to good old fashioned painting. I have just finished reading this book about Picasso which contained some great quotes like: “Abstract painting can’t be subversive because it doesn’t subvert the real world.” Picasso! I used to say anything done before 1960 is not worth looking at. What is happening to me?

In the Times article Matt Rudd gets his son to review art and along with him finds that he himself doesn’t understand any more what it all means. I have to agree. His article is about something he calls CARP (Conceptual Art that Requires Participation).

He went to the Tate Modern and Frieze.

This sort of CARP art is everywhere now it seems. When did it start? We had Carsten Höller’s slides in the turbine hall, Doris Salcedo’s Crack, which left me really cold even though I so wanted to like it.

I think this “new” art is actually more like advertising. Only that it advertises the artist. And that’s what I don’t like about it. It’s all head no gut. I am missing the soul. Give me Tracey Emin’s Bed any day.

The worst offender in this field of artvertising is Hirst, a second-rate Koons, and even worse Banksy, a second-rate Hirst. Hirst’s art is based on ideas that do nothing other than advertise the Hirst brand. His art is utterly soulless.

Koons is the only artist that pulls this off and creates great art.

Sorry. Rant over.

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16 thoughts on “I have lost that lovin’ feeling

  1. So next time you meet the man in the train who once told you “Modern art? Rubish! I could do that”, are you going to give him a big hug?

  2. I agree to an extent. I have nothing but admiration for Hirst, but from a business point of view more than purely aesthetic.

    If you take something like the diamond skull if anyone else had done it I think most people would have said it was kind of cool, from a purely visual point of view I bet it looks great (forget for the moment that skulls have been completely overused for the last 5 years) but because it’s a DH and it’s on sale for 50 million quid one can no longer be objective about the work.

    But like I said having read the ‘On the Way to Work’ book I can’t help but admire him. What a great life! Who knows what he will do next. Of course if he stopped making so much money it would be easier to like his art.

    As DJ Shadow (sort of) said: ‘It’s the money.’

  3. That’s exactly my point. Hirst is a great businessman, not an artist. His work is just about him as a person. Admittedly a very interesting person he is, but his art ain’t good.

    And, boy, would I like to be him.

  4. oh i think art should have soul. and sometimes the big up hype n business mallarky swamps it, or overtakes it, or masks it. and there is a lot of blah out there.

  5. 🙂 that’s right Joe. The fact that Hirst is rich doesn’t enter really. Sigmar Polke is the worlds richest living artist, but I still love his work. What irritates me about Hirst is that he (in my opinion) creates art to make money. He’s a very clever man – you just need to look at the recent auction of his work. Amazing what people pay for his artefacts. HE is art, not his work.

  6. Picasso also said: “true art can only possibly come from deep personal struggle” (struggle = physical + political + ideological + psychological + emotional).

    Western society (as a whole). Where can we find the real struggle? Politically our ideologies are exhausted if not dead, our well-fed society has chosen (a long time ago) to be passive in front of major issues affecting the rest of the world and we only seem to be shouting when something affects to our pockets.

    Economic prosperity kills social ideologies, we become intellectually lazier (there’s not necessity, we have everything we need) and stop making the effort to look beyond the surface. We under-rate art to over-rate artists. It’s the so called celebrity culture.

    And this the error for me. Referencing media-celebrities (created by the markets for the markets) to evaluate the state of contemporary art is a mistake. Hirst, Emin, Banksy, Frieze… are not by any mean the place to look for answers because they don’t represent the soul or the struggle of contemporary art.

    Mexico, South America, China… They’re all experiencing a blooming period of deeply strong art because they’re not Occident, their societies are living intense social experiences and they have so much more to say than we do. So I’d say we can’t talk generally here.

    E

    Ps (re: Salcedo). I think a mature Colombian woman with her background coming to a British commercial art theme park and making a crack in its foundations it’s just a GREAT statement.

  7. Everybody likes Warhol – it’s cool to like Warhol. I like Warhol.
    It’s not cool to like Hirst. (perhaps because he’s English doesn’t help).

    What’s the difference between Warhol and Hirst?
    The spot paintings for example…

    BTW. Nice commment Eduardo. I can’t disagree with you but the implications make my head hurt.

    Talking about art is so much more fun than working isn’t it?

  8. “What’s the difference between Warhol and Hirst?”
    …hard to know where to begin IMO.

    (I too have work to do so I can’t write the dissertation that’s in my head)

    The spot paintings are just that; paintings.

    Warhol had big, relevant ideas.
    He liberated art from it’s past (Duchamp did it first but Warhol worked out how to make the idea relevant).
    In doing so he empowered culture to embrace all of what it is; hi and lo, effectively founding “popular culture” we live in today and his influence continues to be felt (reality TV, celebrity culture, etc.)
    IMO he is THE artist of pre-internet culture.

    What is Hirst’s idea?
    He sells artefacts to rich people, so what? (Warhol did it all before probably made more money from richer people who probably actually desired the work more).
    Hirst is a throw back. There will always be someone creating art stuff for rich people to invest in. It’s always been that way it’s no different to the way the art market functioned in the 17th century or the way the tech-stock bubble worked.

    Duchamp and Warhol created “art” that was independent of it’s physical self. You can own a Warhol but we all share the ideas.
    this is really cool and is still one of the most exciting ideas ever.

    Hirst has never achieved this. His influence is not (IMO) felt in the broader culture, he hasn’t inspired or empowered anyone apart from some other wannabe star artists who aspire to being famous and producing similarly smug, trite and shallow work which appeals to a minute audience. I’d suggest that his work/ideas are truly irrelevant to almost everybody.

    Rant paused…

  9. no there’s more.

    By making art about Pop culture Warhol’s stuff (Elvis painting for example) is also kind of user generated in a way that is super relevant today.
    Warhol didn’t pick the subjects, his client’s didn’t pick the subjects, “everyone:” picked the subjects.
    Warhol what better way to successfully rationalize the democratization of culture which was the central artistic issue of the century (and a a good part of the one before). This is another HUGE idea.

    Compare that with Hirst’s diamond skull; exclusive elitist. A closed room bereft of innovation.

    I’ll be back.

  10. Pingback: Jonathan Meese hat immer recht « The way things go

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