Thursday, 18 October 2012

But is it art?

brown vista with blue things
It's not art. It's not anti-art. Roughly the words of the 'yellowist' who scrawled on the Mark Rothko painting at the Tate Modern. If you read the 'yellowist' manifesto on the subject, it is either a delightful wind-up, or overinflated tosh. I am strongly reminded of the Henry Cecil book Ways and Means. In this enjoyable, if slightly dated, book a pair of conmen and their wives perform some excellent examples of what would now be known as the long con. Complicated setups where they fool people into paying them large sums of money.

In one of the stories, Basil and Nicholas invent a fake school art called something like partists (I don't have my copy to hand to check the actual name) who only paint parts of the body. The plan itself is mostly a way to get round the rather limited gambling rules of the time to run a kind of football pools on paintings, but somehow yellowist always brings back the idea of this made up style - so I hope it is indeed a wind-up.

However, either way I am surprised how little the news coverage has picked up on what, to me, is the obvious point that there really is no difference between the scrawl and the original. There is no talent in Rothko's work and similar 'art'. It really is the case of the emperor's new clothes, or in the case of art, the art world's new works. There is nothing there to appreciate.

Above you will see my original art work 'brown vista with blue things' (it is essential that the title is only rendered in lower case). I am proud of this. It took me at least 2 minutes to create on my iPad. I genuinely feel that the longer you look at it, the more you will see in it. This is actually a function of the way the brain works. What I can't see is any difference between this and the Rothko in terms of artistic merit, except mine has more interesting patterns in it. What makes his red blobs great (expensive) art and mine worthless? The interpretation? In that case it's not the picture that's art, it's the words that describe it. And let's face it they are pseudo-intellectual claptrap. The man who did it? Then we're looking at the merits of designer labels, not art.

I find it hilarious when they show the gallery and inevitably someone is sitting one of those rather uncomfortable gallery benches, staring at a canvas with a few strokes of paint on it that some conman or other has persuaded a naive and brainless 'elite' to spend millions of pounds on. They should go out and sit on a bench and contemplate nature or the stars instead. Because there really is something to see there.

P.S. A serious question. Could you honestly say if you went in Tate Modern and saw the picture above on the wall labelled as a serious work by a serious painter, that you would immediately spot that it wasn't? If you say yes, I think you need to re-examine your honest circuits, they're on the blink.

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