Tim Newark: End art gap

October 04, 2010 7:03 PM

Last Friday, I was discussing public sector arts cuts with Phil Gibby, Director of Arts Council England, South West, on a BBC Radio Bristol morning call-in show. As callers expressed their own views on the arts in Bristol and the West, I was struck by the gulf in expectations between taxpayer funded art and that in the private sector.


 


Criticism of vacuous conceptual art at the Arnolfini Gallery was fended off by Phil Gibby with the lame old argument that art should be challenging and always pushing the boundaries. But who says? And isn’t this form of conceptual art somewhat old fashioned now? It’s been around for the best part of a century, ever since Marcel Duchamp turned a urinal into a work of art, has become a firm favourite with publicly funded institutions and yet still fails to really engage with the public. It was Carl Andre’s bricks in the 1970s, then Tracey Emin’s unmade bed in the 1990s. Even Charles Saatchi, the greatest private patron of UK conceptual art, has moved on. His latest exhibition of UK artists featured more paintings than found objects.


 


And yet, taxpayer funded galleries carry on pushing conceptual art as though it’s still innovative. Not any more. Would it even exist if it wasn’t subsidised by the taxpayer? The world of private art galleries is full of a greater range of contemporary art that people are ready and willing to pay for. Surely this is the kind of art that should be displayed in public galleries? Let’s bring the private and public worlds of art together and stop foisting elitist conceptual art on an ever more sceptical audience.


 


Tim Newark, Bath TaxPayers’ Alliance


Tim also appeared on BBC Politics Show discussing this issue:










Last Friday, I was discussing public sector arts cuts with Phil Gibby, Director of Arts Council England, South West, on a BBC Radio Bristol morning call-in show. As callers expressed their own views on the arts in Bristol and the West, I was struck by the gulf in expectations between taxpayer funded art and that in the private sector.


 


Criticism of vacuous conceptual art at the Arnolfini Gallery was fended off by Phil Gibby with the lame old argument that art should be challenging and always pushing the boundaries. But who says? And isn’t this form of conceptual art somewhat old fashioned now? It’s been around for the best part of a century, ever since Marcel Duchamp turned a urinal into a work of art, has become a firm favourite with publicly funded institutions and yet still fails to really engage with the public. It was Carl Andre’s bricks in the 1970s, then Tracey Emin’s unmade bed in the 1990s. Even Charles Saatchi, the greatest private patron of UK conceptual art, has moved on. His latest exhibition of UK artists featured more paintings than found objects.


 


And yet, taxpayer funded galleries carry on pushing conceptual art as though it’s still innovative. Not any more. Would it even exist if it wasn’t subsidised by the taxpayer? The world of private art galleries is full of a greater range of contemporary art that people are ready and willing to pay for. Surely this is the kind of art that should be displayed in public galleries? Let’s bring the private and public worlds of art together and stop foisting elitist conceptual art on an ever more sceptical audience.


 


Tim Newark, Bath TaxPayers’ Alliance


Tim also appeared on BBC Politics Show discussing this issue:










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