Monday, 23 November 2009

Where is modern art now?

This series on BBC4 may have been on for weeks, but I have only just discovered it!!! I have to say, before this course there is not a chance I would watch programmes like this and see it through to the finish.  Infact, I would even admit that I was thoroughly absorbed in it and fascinated.  This in itself shows that the course has been a great catalyst in my learning and opened my eyes considerably.  Now open, I'm hungry for more and more information and knowledge about photographers and artists.  In particular it is contemporary art and photography that I'm currently wanting to know more about.

I am already finding images that I viewed for example by Arbus, Eggleston, Gursky, Goldin that I didn't really 'get' at the beginning of the course are becoming more familiar and I'm appreciating more. I just wish my base knowledge on art and artists was better and it will take me some time before I'm truly familiar with them and even longer to really understand which artists I can associate with best.  There are a few that I feel are beginning to surface at the moment.

Anyway, back to the programme. I actually took notes - blimey - it really is like being back in the classroom!!  Below are a jumble of bullet points made in the film that may come in handy at some stage in the future for me, but probably garbled to anyone reading this (I'll add links later):

- Tate Modern criticised by Tony Caro for dumbing down
- Peckham Multiplex is a hub of art currently
- provocative is old-hat, being shocked is out-of-date.  Recession means artists using cheaper materials
- YBA's - Young British Artists, pioneers being Michael Landy, Sarah Lucas and Damian Hirst. They were all at Goldsmiths in the 1980s.
- Michael Landy demolished all his posssessions on a conveyor belt for art.  He ended up in debt.  He has started afresh drawing pictures of weeds and 'green shoots'.
- Current scene seems to be 'quieter' and much more introspective than the work of the YBA's
- Current artists are more commercially-minded, institutionalised (Saatchi-bought) and 'underwhelming' in the words of the presenter.  There was a lack of rebelling and free thinking.  The presentation at galleries was modest, slick and perhaps overshadowed by the work of the YBAs. Much work was 'cogigating' rather than 'seducing'.
- From the Goldsmith College Cornelia Parker refused to make money when her YBA counterparts were. She refused to take commissions and exhibits her work in galleries.  She produced the renowned flattened orchestra at the V&A Gallery.
- Instant recognition and fame is a recent phenomenon. 
- Whitney McVey has had her first major solo show after twenty years of work. 
- Art needs to be less about the audience.  Deep consideration, effort and skill is required and a reason for how and why it is created.
- The next phase of contemporary art could be a 'quiet voice after a noisy decade'.  More meaningful art.
- Grayson Perry one of today's famous celebrity potters (dresses up as a transvestite!).  He says (similarly to Damian Hirst in the Guardian article) that a craft can be learnt, but you can teach 'what you put on the pot' or how to see.  Interested in the content.  New artists need to make their own tradition.  'Being conservative' in art is perhaps the most shocking of all.
- Tracy Emin: she is looking for genuine art, something different
- the future may bring more emphasis on technique and history, with less conceptual art than in the past. Going back to the traditional values of practice, getting better and at the end of the process can measure if the energy is pushing boundaries.
- Tom Price: small sculptures.  Attention grabbing.  Controversial but constrained. Perhaps the 'quieter' artists will get their turn now.

Conclusion: artists are good at 'navigating the unknown, that is what they do best'

... just watching 'school of saatchi' now.  Mmm intriguing.

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