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young British artists, Brit Art, art criticism, Self promotion, Shock tactics, the Spectacle, British Art Show, Creative Industries, New Labour

young British artists, Brit Art, art criticism, Self promotion, Shock tactics, the Spectacle, British Art Show, Creative Industries, New Labour

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  • Developments on the British art scene since the 90s have caused a lot of controversy. Contemporary art audiences have sharply increased, the art became more media aware and media friendly, courting attention, the art is exposed and seen in places outwith the gallery (eg media). Popular spectacle, alongside its counterparts in fashion, design, music and even gastronomy. What does this ‘popularity’ of art amount to? Does art’s high profile necessarily mean that the audience has expanded? And has any significant reconfiguration of the interface between high and low taken place? What are the consequences of this? This is something critics have been debating. It is difficult to separate the hype about this art scene from serious critique.
  • Young British Art can be seen to have a convenient starting point in the exhibition Freeze organised, while he was still a student at Goldsmiths College in London in 1988, by Damien Hirst, who became the most celebrated, or notorious, of the YBAs. Formed in 1988, at a time when public funding for art was not readily available (and had been reduced by the Thatcher government), a group of 16 artists, were invited by Damien Hirst to take part in an exhibition called Freeze. Most of the commercial galleries in London showed a lack of interest in Hirst's project at the time, which led to the show being held in a Docklands warehouse. The event resonated with the 'Acid House' warehouse rave scene prevalent at the time, and drew significant publicity by the connection. It also gave rise to a huge interest on the part of many artists in being curators. Suddenly it seemed Hirst had single handedly created a new career-path and possibility for unknown artists to put a cool-sounding new job-title on their resumés and CVs. Artist-run exhibition spaces and galleries sprang up in the mid 1990's in London based on this idea. The label YBA turned out to be a powerful brand and marketing tool, but of course it concealed huge diversity.
  • The opening of The Tate Modern,London in May 2000, further fueled the spread of enthusiasm for the work of the yBa artists. One particular artists involved in both the 'Freeze' and 'Sensation' exhibitions was Tracey Emin. Her later work entitled 'My Bed' caused a great deal of shock, when shortlisted for the 1999 Turner prize. Charles Saatchi later bought this piece for £150,000. More than anyone else the issue of "Can this be art?" seems to constantly follow in her wake. The question of what constitutes art has dogged the art world for many years now and seems to me to be a little defunct.
  • Populist, careerist? Does this mean that there was a complicit and wilful avoidance of difficult, theoretical or ideological work? Self promotion The yBas are credited with the revival of the knowing ‘shock’ tactic. MARCUS HARVEY and his painting of Myra Hindley, a serial killer whose victims were young children. “Myra” is made from the hand prints of a child whose age matched those of Hindley's victims. The juxtaposition of opposites- of life and death, innocence and corruption- creates unbearable poignancy. This work provoked such outrage when it was shown in “ Sensation” in 1997 that it was splattered with eggs and ink. Harvey is not glorifying the monster but asking how a set of features becomes an icon of evil. MARC QUINN Gained instant notoriety with a self-portrait: “Self” (1991) . It consists of nine pints of blood (that is the amount contained in a human body) taken from his veins over a period of five months, poured into a cast of his features and frozen solid. Instead of conferring immortality like a portrait n stone or marble would, “Self” is fundamentally unstable. “Dependent on a life-support system it emphasizes the fragility and transience of life. Unplug the refrigerator unit and the sculpture would disappear. yBa, a media confection, elaborately crafted? Did it lack coherence other than the drive to ride the wave of attention? It seems to have its roots in art education and in responses to the recession, which from the 1990s put the art market into prolonged hibernation. A product of 90s recession; commercial galleries scaled down, relocated or closed; career and financial expectations of artists changed; empty premises, warehouses.
  • This spectacle is devoured by the media because - art is more streetwise, sexy and media sharp - newer lifestyle magazines are interested in featuring ‘Art’ is that it makes them appear less trivial or superficial than they are
  • Julian Stallabrass High Art Lite is a critique of complicity but also a lack of complexity in the work of the yBas. Critical complacency he saw in the movement. The yBas had successfully courted a new audience for contemporary art through using the mass media. They were forced into this by the hibernation of the commercial art world in the recession of the early 1990s. Against the background of conservative cultural policies they offered a critique in that they were evidently contemporary, albeit in a rather backward-looking sort of way - playing with punk identities and their nostalgia for 70s TV.
  • British Art Show Major survey exhibition showcasing contemporary British art, it takes place every 5 years (since 1979) I s the very idea behind such an exhibition, as the Union fractures internally into its constituent nations and agonises over integration in a supra-national structure, a pressing issue or an anachronism? Julian Stallabrass, British Art Show 5 Br itish Art Show 4 was an unashamed celebration of ‘young British art’. Br itish culture is an urgent matter precisely because it is so contested. BAS6 I n ational survey shows are now an anachronism: the British art world is full of emi gr e artists, whose subjects, as much as their careers, reflect the globalised world. In this age of globalisation the idea of a national art fair or exhibition may seem parochial or anachronistic yBa, parochial, London centric art world
  • Wi th today’s plethora of art prizes, biennales, art fairs and annual exhibitions and their accompanying media coverage, there is an expectation for the artist to be constructed and promoted as a glamorised and economically successful operator; an imperative that is also increasingly both internalised and mediated within artists’ practice. The necessity for the contemporary professional artists’ to place themselves within such a cultural dynamic raises critical and political issues not only around the strategies artists need to adopt if they want their work to gain at most recognition and at least exposure, but has implications for the education and training of artists, the nature of viewer engagement with art, and the location of aesthetic values.
  • ‘ Sensation’ exhibition, London’s Royal Academy of Art, Sept 97 featured the acquisitions of the only major collector of contemporary art in Britain whose dealings affects the whole market – Charles Saatchi A public airing if a private collection. Problematic for artists, a high profile doesn’t lead to enhanced creativity when the market is focused largely on a signature style.
  • Two Fried Eggs And Kebab (1992) and Au Naturel (1994) - a stained mattress where a girl is represented using a metal bucket and two melons, and a boy with a cucumber and a pair of oranges. Dealing with gender issues; about how sexual identity gets encoded in objects, how men and women relate to each other through everyday items and images Sarah Lucas: - not motivated by a counter-chauvinistic desire to revel in the ‘profane’ and the ‘base’ as many accounts would have it - it’s a conscious and problematic return of the repressed dimensions of the local and the low - it quotes other voices - there exists a distance between the ‘everyday’ in her practice, she states that she works in the space between the ‘ideal’ and the ‘actual’ - she takes previous practices concerned with identity politics and ‘tests’ their claims against other contexts
  • Lucas challenged the street slang used to describe women by turning it into physical forms. She replaced anger and embarrassment with humour, portraying breasts as melons or fried eggs, catching public attention with hard-hitting sculpture and spreads from The Sun. In making physical representations of sexual slang and celebrating stories about rampant dwarves she moved the discussion further along then any amount of protest art.
  • Blimey! From Bohemia to Britpop (1997) is a subjective, satirical commentary, written with the fluency of a good journalist and couched in a tone of slightly bored detachment. Blimey! flaunts a breezy, irreverent style that can be, by turns, just like the art: absorbing, accessible, and outrageous--or utterly, embarrassingly banal. Collings invented the perfect voice to complement YBA: He makes an impact without (crucially) ever appearing to try too hard. The absence of any critical agenda in his writing is, according to Collings, a willful response to an age in which the avant-garde is "an official-one and therefore a pseudo one." Ironically, given that he is more than anyone identified with the dumbing down of art discourse, Collings is at heart a Greenbergian formalist who believes that "populism??????? Clement Greenberg argued that art should hold itself separately from mass culture, and defend its own purity and complexity against the vulgarization and blandishments of kitsch.
  • This situation was further complicated by the Labour administration’s interest in the arts; its repeated charges of ‘elitism’ raised fears of political demagogy (art mediating political, ideological or institutional forms of domination) . Since its election in 1997, New Labour has put the ‘creative industries’ at the heart of its vision for the future of Britain. In the late 1990s the surge to merge culture with the economy was a key factor in London's bid to consolidate its position as the European centre of the global financial services industry. Culture was part of the marketing mix that, within the context of the European Union, kept London ahead of its competitors. In the late 1990s, the yBa were embraced, along with Britpop and British fashion, as part of ‘Cool Britannia’ yBas were packaged alongside the Britpop wave in music, now there is nothing wrong with art being popular, or artists being opportunists, careerists except that none of this adds up to a significant practice.
  • In the 1980s the relations between theory and practice had become to close, and it had become too easy to ‘illustrate’ theory. With their apparent ‘anti-intellectualisation’ the yBas were reacting against this institutionalization of critical theory. There was shift in the 90s in power relations within the art world. Frieze magazine became the market leader, flash production values, it became cool to say theory was out. There was a displacement of power away from those who normally controlled the distribution of art. The validatory power was now firmly back in the hands of those who held the purse strings. 1990s saw the rise of the curator. They neatly slotted work into ‘themed’ or group exhibitions. Criticism of curated spectacles without critical discourse.
  • As journalism embraced YBA, criticism abandoned it. ‘Is criticism still relevant?’, ‘Has the curator replaced the critic?’ or ‘Is the collector the new critic?’

Britains got talent Presentation Transcript

  • 1. young British artists
  • 2. In today's art world many strange, even shocking things qualify as art. In this book, Cynthia Freeland explains why innovation and controversy are valued in the arts, weaving together philosophy, art theory, and many engrossing examples. She discusses blood, beauty, culture, money, museums, sex, and politics, clarifying contemporary and historical accounts of the nature, function, and interpretation of the arts.
  • 3. Developments on the British art scene since the 90s have caused a lot of controversy. Contemporary art audiences have sharply increased, the art became more media aware and media friendly, courting attention, the art is exposed and seen in places outwith the gallery (eg media). Popular spectacle, alongside its counterparts in fashion, design, music and even gastronomy. What does this ‘popularity’ of art amount to? Does art’s high profile necessarily mean that the audience has expanded? And has any significant reconfiguration of the interface between high and low taken place? What are the consequences of this? This is something critics have been debating. It is difficult to separate the hype about this art scene from serious critique
  • 4. ‘ The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’, Damien Hirst (1991)
  • 5. Young British Art can be seen to have a convenient starting point in the exhibition Freeze organised, while he was still a student at Goldsmiths College in London in 1988, by Damien Hirst, who became the most celebrated, or notorious, of the YBAs. Formed in 1988, at a time when public funding for art was not readily available (and had been reduced by the Thatcher government), a group of 16 artists, were invited by Damien Hirst to take part in an exhibition called Freeze. Most of the commercial galleries in London showed a lack of interest in Hirst's project at the time, which led to the show being held in a Docklands warehouse. The event resonated with the 'Acid House' warehouse rave scene prevalent at the time, and drew significant publicity by the connection. It also gave rise to a huge interest on the part of many artists in being curators. Suddenly it seemed Hirst had single handedly created a new career-path and possibility for unknown artists to put a cool-sounding new job-title on their resumés and CVs. Artist-run exhibition spaces and galleries sprang up in the mid 1990's in London based on this idea. The label YBA turned out to be a powerful brand and marketing tool, but of course it concealed huge diversity.
  • 6. Tracy Emin, ‘My Bed’, 1998
  • 7. The opening of The Tate Modern,London in May 2000, further fueled the spread of enthusiasm for the work of the yBa artists. One particular artists involved in both the 'Freeze' and 'Sensation' exhibitions was Tracey Emin. Her later work entitled 'My Bed' caused a great deal of shock, when shortlisted for the 1999 Turner prize. Charles Saatchi later bought this piece for £150,000. More than anyone else the issue of "Can this be art?" seems to constantly follow in her wake. The question of what constitutes art has dogged the art world for many years now and seems to me to be a little defunct.
  • 8. Marc Quinn, ‘Self’, 1991 Marcus Harvey, ‘Myra’
  • 9. Populist, careerist? Does this mean that there was a complicit and wilful avoidance of difficult, theoretical or ideological work? Self promotion? The yBas are credited with the revival of the knowing ‘shock’ tactic. yBa, a ‘media confection’, elaborately crafted? Did it lack coherence other than the drive to ride the wave of attention? It seems to have its roots in art education and in responses to the recession, which from the 1990s put the art market into prolonged hibernation. A product of 90s recession; commercial galleries scaled down, relocated or closed; career and financial expectations of artists changed; empty premises, warehouses.
  • 10. MARCUS HARVEY and his painting of Myra Hindley, a serial killer whose victims were young children. “Myra” is made from the hand prints of a child whose age matched those of Hindley's victims. The juxtaposition of opposites- of life and death, innocence and corruption- creates unbearable poignancy. This work provoked such outrage when it was shown in “ Sensation” in 1997 that it was splattered with eggs and ink. Harvey is not glorifying the monster but asking how a set of features becomes an icon of evil.
  • 11. MARC QUINN Gained instant notoriety with a self-portrait: “Self” (1991) . It consists of nine pints of blood (that is the amount contained in a human body) taken from his veins over a period of five months, poured into a cast of his features and frozen solid. Instead of conferring immortality like a portrait n stone or marble would, “Self” is fundamentally unstable. “Dependent on a life-support system it emphasizes the fragility and transience of life. Unplug the refrigerator unit and the sculpture would disappear.
  • 12. The spectacle is devoured by the media
  • 13. Stallabrass critiques the lack of complexity in the work of the young British artists.
  • 14. British Art Show: The Union has fractured, The British art world is full of émigré artists, so is the BAS an anachronism?
  • 15. There exists a plethora of art prizes, fairs, biennales etc. What are the ramifications of these on artists, art education, and audiences?
  • 16. ‘ Sensation’ exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Art in 1997 was a public airing of the private collector Charles Saatchi, the only major collector of contemporary art in Britain during this period whose dealings affected the entire art market.
  • 17. Sarah Lucas ‘ Au Naturel’, 1992 ‘ Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab’, 1994
  • 18.
    • Sarah Lucas’ work:
        • Is not motivated by a counter-chauvinistic desire to revel in the ‘profane’ and the ‘base’ as many accounts would have it
        • is a conscious and problematic return of the repressed dimensions of the local and the low
        • quotes other voices
        • creates a distance between the ‘everyday’ in her practice, she states that she works in the space between the ‘ideal’ and the ‘actual’
        • takes previous practices concerned with identity politics and ‘tests’ their claims against other contexts
  • 19. Sarah Lucas, ‘Shine On’, (1991) She quotes other voices, including other works which deal with identity politics.
  • 20. Blimey! From Bohemia to Britpop (1997), Matthew Collings. Clement Greenberg argued that art should hold itself separately from mass culture, and defend its own purity and complexity against the vulgarization and blandishments of kitsch.
  • 21. New Labour put the ‘Creative Industries’ at the heart of its vision for the future of Britain.
  • 22. This situation was further complicated by the Labour administration’s interest in the arts; its repeated charges of ‘elitism’ raised fears of political demagogy (art mediating political, ideological or institutional forms of domination) . Since its election in 1997, New Labour has put the ‘creative industries’ at the heart of its vision for the future of Britain. In the late 1990s the surge to merge culture with the economy was a key factor in London's bid to consolidate its position as the European centre of the global financial services industry. Culture was part of the marketing mix that, within the context of the European Union, kept London ahead of its competitors. In the late 1990s, the yBa were embraced, along with Britpop and British fashion, as part of ‘Cool Britannia’
  • 23. In the 1980s theory and practice had become to close. The yBas were seen to be reacting against the ‘institutionalism of critical theory’ (Critical Postmodernism). Frieze magazine became the market leader. It became cool to say theory was out.
  • 24.
    • In the 1980s the relations between theory and practice had become to close, and it had become too easy to ‘illustrate’ theory. With their apparent ‘anti-intellectualisation’ the yBas were reacting against this institutionalization of critical theory.
    • There was shift in the 90s in power relations within the art world.
    • Frieze magazine became the market leader, flash production values, it became cool to say theory was out.
    • There was a displacement of power away from those who normally controlled the distribution of art.
    • The validatory power was now firmly back in the hands of those who held the purse strings.
    • 1990s saw the rise of the curator. They neatly slotted work into ‘themed’ or group exhibitions. Criticism of curated spectacles without critical discourse.
  • 25. As journalism embraced YBA, criticism abandoned it. Is criticism still relevant? Has the curator replaced the critic? Is the collector the new critic?
  • 26. Not much newspaper criticism comes near their mark, but what critics did share, in the late 1980s, was a similar scepticism about new fashions, a "seriousness" defined by suspicion. And of course, history played a joke on these critics - even on Fuller and Hughes. While high moral disdain for shallow modern art was pouring from the printing presses, a generation of British artists led by Damien Hirst were getting away with anything they wanted - again and again and again. Words were crushed by images. Critics were reduced to the status of promoters. They had no other role. Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, 24.04.09