snubbing the stuckists

the Tate Museum has turned down a proposed gift of 160 paintings offered by a group of artists known as the stuckists. Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota wrote to the Stuckists, who offered the gift: “We do not feel that the work is of sufficient quality in terms of accomplishment, innovation, or originality of thought to warrant preservation in perpetuity in the national collection.” ouch. the ol’ hierarchical bitch slap from the local gatekeepers of art history. here’s the thing, in my view the tate was absolutely right in handing out said bitch slap.

the stuckists are a group which formed officially in 1999 by Charles Thomson and Billy Childish (who left in 2001) along with eleven other artists. The name was derived by Thomson from an insult to Childish from his ex-girlfriend, Brit artist Tracey Emin, who told him that his art was ‘stuck’. The Stuckists stand for contemporary figurative painting with ideas. They oppose conceptual art, mainly because of what they regard as its lack of concepts.

having chosen an ism they eventually issued a manifesto which begins like this:
Against conceptualism, hedonism and the cult of the ego-artist.

-Stuckism is the quest for authenticity. By removing the mask of cleverness and admitting where we are, the Stuckist allows him/herself uncensored expression.

-Painting is the medium of self-discovery. It engages the person fully with a process of action, emotion, thought and vision, revealing all of these with intimate and unforgiving breadth and detail.

-Stuckism proposes a model of art which is holistic. It is a meeting of the conscious and unconscious, thought and emotion, spiritual and material, private and public. Modernism is a school of fragmentation — one aspect of art is isolated and exaggerated to detriment of the whole. This is a fundamental distortion of the human experience and perpetrates an egocentric lie.

they call their anti-conceptual, and anti-anti-art paintings remodernism.

i must say that i am very sympathetic to certain of the stuckists broad stroke ideals, in theory anyway. i happen to be less than enthralled by the prevailing winds of conceptualism, less than impressed with most of the propped-up “art royalty” getting coronated by the lucre chewing king makers, and i’d certainly be thrilled to see painting rise again to prominence. no question. they even have this bit in their manifesto Stuckism is anti ‘ism’ a sentiment i’m sure i don’t need to get into. but here’s the thing: by and large, to my eye at least (luckily the only eye i need to concern myself with) their paintings stink. for the most part. manifesto writing and monicker adopting is good fun for the whole self important family, but in the end, if your paintings don’t move me… well, then all those words which accompany them only serve as convenient kindling for my cozy crap-art bonfire.

course, you, reader, might eat and breathe stuckist. fine. subjective, etc etc. but should this work be in the permanent collection of the tate? maybe. should it be there today? seems a touch presumptuous for a “movement” which has existed for only 6 years to be represented by any museums permanent collection whatsoever. that’s what galleries are for. a venue that the stuckists are evidently doing just fine in. so hey, don’t get greedy stuck-ites. furthermore if you read the manifesto you might even be struck with the thought that “hey, wanting so badly to be enshrined forever in any institution sounds suspiciously un-stuckist…” haha, so is the trap of grand pronouncements manifest.

Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Stuckists, called the decision “a massive snub”. Noting their recent stuckist exhibition’s success, he added: “It shows the Tate is completely out of line with the rest of the country and the public, whose money it spends on things the public don’t want.” touchy touchy mr. high minded “new spirituality” in art, mr. anti “the ego-artist’s constant striving for public recognition”... haha. maybe next decade.

see the work and judge for yourself, maybe you’ll dig it.

international stuckists
uk stuckists
some of the specific works rejected by the tate.

oh, p.s. click the first thumbnail to see the actual non-snide painting.

posted by jmorrison on 07/28 | sights & sounds - art | (7) comments | send entry