Thursday, 15 October 2009

Young British Artists

There is a riveting (and long-overdue) article by Mark Hudson in today's Daily Telegraph on the subject of Damien Hirst, who has a new exhibition of paintings at the Wallace Collection, which has been almost universally panned by the critics. Hudson argues that we might be witnessing a pivotal moment in the history of art, no less than the realisation that the "art" of the last two decades has been little more than money and celebrity, fuelled by relentless spin. Hirst has made an enormous amount of money with his pickled animals and diamond-encrusted skulls, which most of us knew all along were meaningless, along with Tracey Emin's bed and Sam Taylor-Woods' "vacuous" videos. The Young British Artists have done very well on being famous for being famous. The difference now is that Hirst has actually put brush to canvas, as opposed to getting others to make his "art", as he usually does, and the result shows just how bad an artist he actually is. This does not make any difference to his arrogance: he compares himself to Francis Bacon and Picasso, but as Mark Hudson says, "Hirst's presumption in comparison with the technical inadequacy of the work" is "simply unforgiveable". One of the great mantras of contemporary art is that "skills needn't matter". Hudson says "the great lesson of today's responses to Hirst's paintings is that skills most definitely do, should and always will matter". I found this article totally refreshing. A corner has been turned - or let's at least hope so.

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