Sunday, May 06, 2012

6th May 2012: Who's made a mark this week?

Probably the most prestigious art prize in the UK is the Turner Prize.  It's also possibly the art prize which comes in for the most flak.  The Washington Post describes it as
Britain's most influential and most-mocked art award
although the Tate describes it thus
The prize is not intended to honour an artist’s lifetime achievements. The aim is to celebrate younger talent and to focus attention on new developments in the visual arts.
The winner of the Turner Prize gets £25,000 with £5,000 going to each of the other shortlisted artists. To be eligible for this year's prize, an artist must be British, under fifty and have had an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work - in the visual arts - in the twelve months prior to 24 April 2012.

It gets national press coverage and the winners often go on to become household names.   Past winners include for example: land artist Richard Long (1989); sculptor Rachel Whiteread (1993); sculptor Antony Gormley (1994); atelier artiste Damien Hirst (1995); ceramics artist and printmaker Grayson Perry in 2007.   I forget the rest - they aren't memorable.

Those selected for the shortlist of nominated artists can generate a fair bit of controversy - and some have been stimulated to create an artistic response - from the Stuckist demonstration in 2000 to Banksy's Mind the Crap stencilled onto the steps of the Tate in 2002.  Artists are also made fun of and lampooned in the national press.

Paul Noble Public Toilet, 1999 
Copyright Paul Noble / Gagosian, London
This year the nominated artists are:
  • Spartacus Chetwynd - described as "a maverick performer-cum-sculptor" - which means she is a performance artist with an invented name.  Nominated for her solo exhibition Odd Man Out at Sadie Coles HQ, London.  Apparently she....
    creates carnivalesque performances and sculptural installations, involving handmade costumes and sets.
Noble’s intricate graphite drawings describe Nobson Newtown, a place composed of labyrinthine edifices and deserted topography embedded with modules of dense detail. Employing cavalier projection—a cartographical method characterized by a high viewpoint—Noble meticulously delineates a wealth of elaborate architecture and open urban spaces.
It all seems to me to be rather a lot of work about imagination and fantasy with more than a bit of film and drama - although the jurors are desperate to assert it's not a curated exhibition.  However I can't say that the descriptions of what they do make me want to go and see any of their work.  While I'm sure they have their own fans, if this is a representation of the best of contemporary British art then I really do wonder if the art economy might be completely down the toilet.  Or maybe I'm just a bit too pedantic expecting it to be about art (as opposed to "visual arts" in all its ambiguity)

I really do wonder at times whether there needs to be a better definition of "visual arts" or whether the "powers that be" are just happy to blur the boundaries with the theatre and film worlds.  For example if theatre and film are OK, then why not architecture and fashion and contemporary industrial design?

Others commented as follows

Work by the shortlisted artists will be shown in an exhibition at Tate Britain opening on 2 October 2012. The winner will be announced at Tate Britain on Monday 3 December 2010 during a live broadcast by Channel 4

Artists, Art Blogs & Articles

I've been well and truly clobbered timewise this week by efforts to reorganise my home with a view to moving to the country.  Everything is taking so much longer than anticipated.  So this is going to be a short post this week.

Botanical Art
  • I went to pick up my botanical art drawing from the exhibition - only to find it had been sold.  We concluded there must have been a mishap about informing me.  Unencumbered by a piece of art, I sat in St James Park and sketched and then went and saw Lucian Freud Portraits again!
Drawing and Sketching
Google Doodle celebrating Keith Haring's 54th birthday

Coloured pencils and pastels
Painting and Plein Air
Art Business & Marketing
Many makers hold on to the fantasy that a gallery will sell all their work so they can dedicate their time to making work. The reality is that those days are gone forever

Art Collectors and Art Economy
  • Yesterday I wrote about the sale last week of Edvard Munch's The Scream - The Scream - the Most Expensive Artwork Ever Sold at Auction.  
    • The novelty for me is that a pastel drawing now holds this record!  Who says pastel is never taken seriously?
    • Joanne Mattera (Joanne Mattera art blog)posed a question of how you would spend $120 million on art if it were handed to you in That $120 Million
  • The Guardian had an article about the Top 10 most expensive works of art sold at auction - in pictures
  • The value of Lucian Freud's estate has been published - but not the details of who gets what (other than that David Dawson inherits the house where Freud had his studio and a considerable sum). It would seem if you leave the Estate to your Executors you don't need to tell the world who gets what.  The value of the estate is £96 million - the largest sum ever for the estate of a British artist.
Art Competitions
  • See the news at the top of this post re the announcement of the Turner Prize shortlist - each of whom now knows they will receive at least £5,000
Art Exhibitions
  • Lucian Freud Portraits has broken the record for visitors to paying exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery.  More than 175,000 have been to see it since it opened three months ago.  There are extended hours to allow more people to view the exhibition in the final month.  It closes on May 26th.
Art Society Exhibitions
  • The 121st Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters opened last week at the Mall Galleries and continues until 18th May.  
    • On Wednesday I wrote Antony Williams wins Ondaatje Prize 2012.  
    • As usual the Private View was packed - as per usual!  
    • I was very happy to meet up with and have lunch with Sophie Ploeg (The Art-Ventures of Sophie Ploeg) who has a portrait in the show.  Sophie has also written a nice review with images at Royal Society of Portrait Painters
    • I have more posts to come this week about the exhibition which I highly recommend - this year it's at least as good as the BP Portrait.  I can't help thinking that the digital entry has helped improve the quality of the content of the open entry.  
    • To mark the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen's accession to the throne, this year there is also a mini exhibition of studies and drawings used to help create portraits of the Queen.
Royal Society of Portrait Painters - Private View
Art Galleries and Museums
  • The Tate has a new website - presumably in anticipation of its new extension at Tate Modern and the hoards which will be visiting London (and Tate Modern and Tate Britain) this year.  I'll write more about it soon - there are some aspects which are worth noting.  Suffice to say it had me going round and round in circles this morning.  Not least because it seems to have consigned the whole of the history of the Turner Prize to the digital waste bin!  It's a bit much when you have to consult Wikipedia to get the list of artists who have won the Turner Prize.
  • Jonathan Jones (Jonathan Jones on Art Blog) lays into the Tate Tate Britain treats our national art collection like its private plaything - and I'm right behind him in his condemnation of the curatorial decisions about what art is on display.   Tate Britain is supposted to be 'the home of British art from 1500 to the present day'.  
Tate is the custodian of a national collection of British art since 1500, whether it wants to be or not. The unique breadth of the Tate collection of British art makes it a fundamental historical resource.
Art Education

Tips and Techniques
I made this!
Art Studio
Opinion Polls
  • I am intensely irritated by a new trick by Blogger.  Every time I insert a link the post now jumps to the top of the post.  The "intensely irritated" feeling comes after trying to write a post like this - and any post in which I link to a lot of artist's websites!  Has anybody else noticed this problem?
  • Tina Mammoser (In the Studio, On the Shore) is switching back to the old blog format she used to use after seeing what the dynamic views version looked like on a mobile device - News Blast: Changing Blog Format for Accessibility
This is from an email from Google Analytics and illustrates how art organisations can benefit from using Google Analytics
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) Masters the Art of Metrics. After installing Google Analytics and using Event Tracking for audio/video content SFMOMA could clearly see what content users liked best. Then they were able to make improvements to their website based on these insights to keep users coming back. Learn More
and finally......

Celebrity art is a funny thing.


  1. Katherine,
    I always enjoy these Sunday posts. There is a lot to read, especially with all the links, but it is a great way for us to catch up, including your own posts from the past week.

    When I get real busy I can always count on your Sunday "Who made a mark this week?" to get me back up to speed quickly.

    I don't know of any other blogs I follow who do a summation like this.
    Keep up the good work.

    Love the 'Ask Harriete' blog, thanks, that's another valuable resource.

    Under the 'Techies' heading, I haven't experienced that particular issue you have been having but they have made some changes I am not fond of.

    Clicking to comments on blogs seems to now drop you into the blank white space below the comments, you then have to scroll up...

    ... why?...

    I also don't care for the newest layout in Dashboard/post editor, or at least some parts of it. Tabs is gone.
    Maybe I'll get used to it.
    It seems just when I become really familiar with how something works they like to change it.

  2. Thanks Katherine. Interesting post as usual. Eagerly awaiting your review/take of the RP exhibition. And as for the Turner Prize.....well yeah.

  3. Thanks for the mention Katherine - I do hope other bloggers note that the dynamic templates on blogspot have accessibility issues. (and sorry about the caps titles!)

    As for the Tate, I just hope that it's going to house some of the 50s/60s abstract and color-field artists in the new wing. They are completely gone from the galleries! (they were in the space now showing the Damien Hirst show) I can't imagine I'm the only one who goes to the Tate to see the Rothko, Newman, Frankenthaler and Olitski - just to name a few that have disappeared from the public galleries (there is one Rothko still on display, but it's a poor one). While the gallery was themed, it did contain a great deal of a particular time period.

  4. My experience with the new blo-grrr format does not include links jumping. I would either revert to the old interface (I think it is still offered) or possibly cut and save the post, and after opening the draft see if it still acts quirky.

  5. You have solved the problem Casey. I was still in the old format - which I prefer - and it's obviously all part of their sneaky plans to make me transfer to the new format! I tried the new format out and it's absolutely fine.

  6. Just wanted to say re the Turner Prize, I'm struck by how many wonderful art competitions there are in the U.K., sponsored by museums and other entities. And then there's all the wonderful art programming available on BBC (we have nothing like it here). It seems like there is much stronger emphasis and focus on art in the U.K. compared to the U.S. where funding has been cut to just about nothing.

    P.S. When I see "Turner Prize" I always think of J.M.W. Turner but surely it's not related to him or he'd be spinning in his grave!


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