Sunday, 11 March 2012

you are quite right, Mr. Jones

Don't believe the hype about contemporary art
Posted by
Jonathan Jones

Like the economy, 21st-century British art is running on false credit. How many truly great living artists can you count?
In the Musée d'Orsay in Paris hang the revolutionary works of painters who made art modern in France more than a century ago. Here they are, the true greats of early modernism: Cézanne and Van Gogh, as well as Gauguin and Degas, Monet and, of course, Seurat. That's six, and there are obviously several more profoundly important figures in France at that time, including Toulouse-Lautrec and Odilon Redon. That makes eight. And there are more, too, including sculptors led by Rodin. Perhaps you could bring the figure up to 16, even 20, without scraping the barrel.

Say we agree, generously, that 20 artists genuinely mattered in late 19th-century France at the dawn of modernism, one of the truly great moments of art history. Now, how many living British artists are regarded as important, unmissable, revolutionary? To judge from the bonanza of 21st-century British art touted in newspaper articles, art fairs, group shows, magazines and a host of solo shows at legions of galleries, there must be – what? – a hundred, no, more like two hundred names to conjure with.

So this must be the greatest moment ever in the story of art, a cultural golden age to put fifth-century Athens to shame.

Or could 21st-century British art possibly be overhyped?

Come on – do the sums – they don't add up. The young and middle-aged artists celebrated in Britain today cannot all be marvellous. Just as Britain's economy in recent times turned out to be running on false credit, so too our art scene has ballooned into a mass delusion.

How many great works of art can we actually count that our age will bequeath posterity? Where are our Sunflowers, our apples and our dancers.
There is a pitiful gulf between noise and achievement in contemporary British art. Of course, we have some good artists, some very good artists, and maybe a couple of great ones. But the vast majority of exhibitions are slight and huge numbers of artists are "farting around", as I observed of Mark Leckey the other day. I did not mean to imply he is the only bad artist. In fact, truly honest art criticism in Britain today would mostly consist of reviews like that one.

Look – as I say – do the maths. You must know how many, or rather how few, artists it is possible to truly love, how small the selection of artworks that really make an impact is. Now pick up any art magazine and sample the latest haul of significant, new, radical, cool artists: it seems there never has been and never will be an age when artists of real value proliferate so readily. Therefore, by plain logic and common sense, a vast proportion of the art we hear so much about in Britain today must be rubbish. It's that simple.

Posted by
Jonathan Jones
Thursday 26 May 2011 14.59 BST

Brilliant article. 
Or it is just Mr. Jones opinion...
In my opinion it is not only about British artists. It is about whole global art. New one - "art the conceptual" - shocking and laud. 
"Art for art sake"… and it understandable and appreciated only by art educated critics who cannot tell honest opinion because then they will be criticising by art tycoons – art dealers…art historian and art theoretic…
I think a lot about recent biennial artists…
I cannot tell anything. Anything at all.
It is just sad and pity. It was only two artists presented yet…but…it still absolutely - …whatever.
They have their excuses. Always. From the history and from wise people.
They probably think about themselves as about a genius.
Maybe they are right…

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” (Albert Einstein)

“Genius - the ability to produce fantastic amounts of equally fantastic bullshit that all makes perfect sense”
(Jason Zebehazy)