23 October 2015

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Art Review Power 100: Time To End The Machiavellian Power List

Each October Art Review publishes its Power 100. A list that always reflects the power brokers of the art world, and not – sadly – its genuine power: that of true creative expression and its influence on our culture. This year international art dealers Iwan and Manuela Wirth have topped this year’s Power 100. The […]

16 October 2015

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Frieze Trends Point To The Death Of The White Cube

Super architects Caruso St John are enjoying a ton of publicity at the moment, with the dual opening of the shiny new Hirst gallery in Newport Street (gushed over by me last week) and now the new Gagosian gallery branch in Grosvenor Hill, where Russian money flows. Such fabulous architecture commissioned by Larry Gagosian demonstrates […]

9 October 2015

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Damien Hirst Reveals His Community Spirit By Opening New Public Gallery

Imagine, if you will, the following scene (sepia tint optional): a young student Damien Hirst gazing wide eyed at John Hoyland’s brilliantly colourful and zingy Rothko-like abstracts at Leeds Art Gallery. One day, he thinks, I will be as great a painter as he. Fast forward a couple of decades, and Hirst hasn’t proved himself […]

2 October 2015

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Identity Crisis : Does The Turner Prize Justify Its Own Existence

With each year that passes the Turner Prize battles doggedly to justify its own existence. It appears to be suffering some kind of identity crisis stemming from the decreasing relevance its entrants have on capturing the actual zeitgeist of contemporary art. Art can be and is made from anything and by anyone – it has […]

22 September 2015

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How Artbytch Met Brian Sewell: Almost A Pastiche Of Himself

I met Brian Sewell only once while a student at the Courtauld Institute. As a fellow alumnus, he was attending a special event for alumni aged eighty or more. Stitching on a pleasant smile and wishing him an excellent visit, he quipped in response that the event was for the few people “who aren’t already […]

18 September 2015

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Ai Weiwei And Anish Kapoor: Far More Effective Than Guernica

What I admire about Thursday’s public march led by Anish Kapoor and Ai Weiwei eight miles across London is its resourcefulness and simplicity in its show of solidarity for the refugee crisis. Art in its usual form of protest is traditionally highly symbolic (think Guernica), provocative (that chap nailing his genitalia to Red Square), or […]

11 September 2015

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Damien Hirst: From Cynical Pharmacy To Saatchi-Style Private Gallery

Regular readers will know of the special reserve of bile I harbour for one Damien Hirst: the businessman peddling ‘art’ in a beyond-cynical way that would make Warhol choke on or at the very least regurgitate a little his oft quoted adage “good business is the best art”. It’s most worrying that the innumerable people […]

21 August 2015

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Dismaland: Wince-Inducing Yet Lacking Banksy’s Usual Cutting Satire?

It emerged in July that Disneyland Paris is allegedly charging German and British tourists up to 15% more than French visitors to the park. Behind the sparkly wholesomeness is, as usual, a faceless corporate conglomerate hyper-capitalist agenda at work. It’s timely then that Banksy has created his own satire of the brand – if you’re […]

24 July 2015

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Sexism In Art: And What We Perceive As Acceptable Body Depictions

So, I was about to launch into thoughtful musings on that inexplicable relationship between artist and muse and how the female body just happens to lend itself to being pored over to varying degrees of distraction. Egon Schiele is a classic example of an artist walking a very thin tightrope between viewing the female body […]

17 July 2015

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The Role Of The Tormented Artist In The Twenty First Century

Click Here to Read: Sexism In Art: And What We Perceive As Acceptable Body Depictions Tormented by lack of critical success? Hate how your art genius is never recognized? Want to cut off your ear but don’t have a razor/pair of scissors to hand? Do a Turner-Prize Winning Artist Douglas Gordon and hack a theatre wall […]

10 July 2015

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Why Some Artists Die Poor And Others Die Rich Like Damien Hirst

OK, so admittedly Damien Hirst is still very much with us… But what can you say about an artist’s life’s work when they have died penniless and relatively unknown? The best way to answer is to reverse the question: why does it matter a damn that a collective of individuals have over a certain period encountered an […]

3 July 2015

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Champagne Swillers Jostled By Sotheby’s Protesters With No Cigar For Bacon Pope

What’s the real value of a humble Dollar/Pound? For those champagne swillers who braved a loud and angry protest outside Sotheby’s Contemporary Auction Wednesday night, Warhol’s One Dollar Bill, hand painted in 1962, sold for a whopping £20.9m (estimated at only £13-18m). The enormous disparity between the mob outside, revealed to be a cleaning service […]

26 June 2015

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Women Artists Shatter The Glass Ceiling – But At What Cost?

I should stand up for fellow art bitches and applaud this week’s lyst of the most wealthy female artists: were your gut feelings also instantly of “female artists are rich?”,or even, “female artists make money?”. What a happy event that we can congratulate ten women who’ve well and truly managed to quit the full time […]

18 June 2015

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BP Portrait Awards: A Non Starter Slippery As An Oil Slick

The genre ‘portraiture’ is as open ended as the limitless expanses of landscape, history painting, still lifes, and abstract: yet while on paper the BP award is as thematically open, and democratically open to everyone to enter, whether amateur or professional, the selection, style and favouritism remains curiously conservative and hideously prescriptive. I’ve been several […]

12 June 2015

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Damien Hirst: Worlds Richest Artist Still Laughing His Way To The Bank

Morbid question one: if Damien Hirst fell into a vat of formaldehyde tomorrow, how would this affect the monetary value of his works? The ultimate art-businessman has, like most on Artlyst’s reel of richest artists, become so having found a brand-formula which happened to become recognised, sought-after, a sure-fire investment. Except the trouble with having […]

5 June 2015

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Minimalism: A Relatively Empty Vessel For Lifestyle Obsessed Non-Art Lovers

Spot the difference (sorry.. actually not sorry) between Yayoi Kusama and Agnes Martin, the darling of minimalism, whose retrospective at Tate Modern opened this week. For each bears a method, a distinct style – or lack of, depending on how characterful you regard blobs and tiny lines – which is repeated with infinite variations, ad infinitum. Immediately, […]

29 May 2015

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Bad Art vs Naive Art With All The Pop Cultural References

Art in whatever form – painting, theatre, a child’s potato stamp – is the means by which we express externally an almost infinite range of internal emotions, goals, aspirations, complaints. When it gets it right, it is sublime, and touches many people in varying ways on so many levels; but most importantly it opens their […]

23 May 2015

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Cat Paintings: The Mysterious Chat Noir Litters Art History

The mysterious chat noir litters (a pun already? Awesome) art history like so much shed fur; the terribly unsubtle feline companion stealing the show in Manet’s ‘Olympia’, that ice cool white Percy out-cooling Mr and Mrs Clark in Hockney’s portrait. Their irresistible allure peppers art and music –check out Rossini’s ‘Duetto buffo di due gatti’; or, an […]

14 May 2015

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The Turner Prize: A Limp Shrug Of Non-Spiration

Writing about the increasingly obsolete Turner Prize is the very definition of shooting fish in a barrel. Waldemar Januszczak has already written the Turner Prize essay to end all essays: calling 2014’s effort nothing short of torturous, “plumbing the depths of portentous banality”. He posited himself as an unwitting guinea pig, sacrificing himself so that […]

8 May 2015

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Political Art: The Lifeblood Of Society Has Haemorrhaged

Does fine art still have political teeth? Remember, if you will, such historical examples as Delacroix’s ‘Victory Leading the People’, the cautionary tales of corruption by Hogarth, or the savage cartoons of James Gillray, to pluck from the vast array of politically charged fine art. Yet as a medium for change it has effectively died […]

1 May 2015

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Art Forgery: Overinflated Prices And The Buffoonery Of Collectors

Given the range of names appearing in Artlyst’s forged artists countdown, you would be forgiven for thinking that the measure of an artist who has finally ‘made it’ is one who has been copied, and copied by stealth and deceit for monetary gain. For the driving influence behind why forgeries are made exists outside the […]

24 April 2015

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Is The Mona Lisa Nothing More Than A Cultural Black Hole?

“Ars longa, vita brevis” should be uttered (and was, repeatedly, ad nauseum by my moustachioed diploma fine art tutor) with a heavy dose of irony. Yes, much art has a greater life span than the average puny human, yet even the Art Loss Register – a vast trove of seemingly endless recorded works gone, pinched, […]

19 April 2015

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Madonna Art Collector’s Humble Brag Is A Stand-Up Comedy Disaster

Last week Madonna got up on the Tonight Show, hosted by Jimmy Fallon, in a staged and contrived act and performed not the best of her 80s music, in medley form, (judging by her get-up) but a cringable stand-up comedy routine. She dug out some of her mothballed desperately seeking susan gear from the back of […]

17 April 2015

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Why Art Offends: A Perfect Storm In A Teacup

Artlyst recently created a list of the most offensive works of art; so what is the difference between this and its idea of hated art? Our good friend Marcel Duchamp may hold the answer. For the critical point in tipping the urinal over, marking it ‘R. Mutt’ and placing it in a gallery – launching […]

10 April 2015

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London’s Leading Museum Directors Exit In Droves

Do I detect a pattern here? There is an exodus afoot amongst the highest echelons of museum management; in the past twelve months the resignations have been announced of Nicholas Penny (National Gallery), Sandy Nairne (National Portrait Gallery), Penelope Curtis (Tate Britain), and now the biggest of the cheeses: Neil MacGregor of the British Museum. This is not a case of incompetency. Far […]

2 April 2015

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Jeff Koons And The Ten Million Pound Easter Egg

Religious or not, we are all familiar with the spirit of giving, new life and general goodwill associated with decorating and eating eggs at Easter. The practice in any case dates back to ancient times, Christianity only taking it up with later examples found from Mesopotamia; even later it was further established as a religious […]

26 March 2015

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Art Outrage Is Subjective To The Zeitgeist Of Social Perception

The term ‘offence’, in the context of ‘to take offence at’ (as opposed to, an illegal offence or act against the law) is defined as an “annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself”. Thus if we look at artworks which have caused outrage over the centuries, we find […]

19 March 2015

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Why Contemporary Art Should Have More Of A Sense Of Humour

There is a strong case to be made that what we recognise as “high” art and laughter are entirely mutually exclusive: take the famous ‘Laughing Cavalier’ by Frans Hals found in the Wallace Collection. The title was bestowed on this anonymous sitter by tittering Victorian punters, and it’s been known as a gimmick painting ever […]

12 March 2015

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Artists Behaving Badly Infant Terrible Or Simply Self-indulgent Twats

There is an extremely thin line between embodying the tortured soul artiste, the infant terrible, and simply behaving like a self-indulgent twat to the annoyance of everyone else. A key factor which determines this delicate balance lies in the integrity of the artwork produced, combined with the degree to which the artist in question is […]

6 March 2015

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Etchings: A Peculiar Mid-point Between The Grand Officialness Of Painting

Etchings occupy a peculiar mid-point between the grand ‘officialness’ of the painting medium, historically seen as noble – whether oil, watercolour, synthetic or piss painting (Warhol) – and the medium of drawing on paper, by nature more likely to preparatory and doodling, an immediate mind thought dashed down with nowhere near the same degree of […]

27 February 2015

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Does Violence In Art Still Have The Power To Shock?

Violence in art is obsolete. Today, what artwork depicting violence still has the power to shock? What purpose does violence in art have when we every day see images of conflict, whether in warfare, domestic or even humorous settings (the schadenfreude of the man falling into an open man-hole)? In ancient Greece violence in art […]

20 February 2015

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Has Sam Taylor-Johnson Permanently Obliterated Her Serious Artist Credibility?

From Young British Artist to Old British Bore: many of the YBAs who kick started their careers by putting unashamedly self-obsessed and defiant  artworks on the map in the early 1990s, and now continue to do so as welcome members of the ‘establishment’. Yet how many still operate with their integrity intact? Emin and Hirst […]