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Frank Hovis

I don't know much about British art

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For all the laughable, if lucrative, Turner prize and Saatchi encouraged tat churned out by the likes of Emin and Hirst it struck me that the last proper British artists I know are Hockney and Bacon as painters and Moore and Hepworth as sculptors.

I know David Hockney is still going and doing decent stuff but the prime work of all of those is fifty years ago.

The best I can come up with since are Jack Vettriani and Anthony Gormley and they're both one trick ponies IMHO.

So on who am I missing out? Or has the switch of focus onto populist novelties meant that there really isn't anyone of the status of the four I name checked?

If anyone knows that is.

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There's a huge number of capable, creative and talented artists. But if in the commercial world and not making a statement a world of difference to the  "Art" world of big names. 

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I've got a mate who's an artist, I'm off to see one of his exhibitions later on this month.

For what it's worth, I think he's pretty good though he's a small fish in the big ocean of 'art'. Like food and it's presentation, I think it's quite easy to differentiate between the stuff that has merit and a load of pretentious bollocks, thrown together by someone who could get away with having a shit on a canvas and hanging it on a wall, because they are a 'name'.

I think the smaller guys are where it's at now. Mrs H. did some music recording a while back and, as a result, has people sending her their music once in a while. Some of it is guff but much of it is absolutely outstanding and pisses over the utter bilge that you'd find in the charts today. Chances are, these guys won't get a look in which seems somewhat of an injustice to me when the status quo currently could really do with an injection of half decent music.

Edited by Sgt Hartman

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6 minutes ago, Sgt Hartman said:

For what it's worth, I think he's pretty good though he's a small fish in the big ocean of 'art'. Like food and it's presentation, I think it's quite easy to differentiate between the stuff that has merit and a load of pretentious bollocks, thrown together by someone who could get away with having a shit on a canvas and hanging it on a wall, because they are a 'name'.

I thought "the Angel of the North" looked like dogshit on TV, but when I saw it in real life it was magnificent. I have experienced a few others that were similar in that they were only impressive when you saw them in reality, and the mass media images looked terrible.

Edited by Hail the Tripod

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1 hour ago, Frank Hovis said:

For all the laughable, if lucrative, Turner prize and Saatchi encouraged tat churned out by the likes of Emin and Hirst it struck me that the last proper British artists I know are Hockney and Bacon as painters and Moore and Hepworth as sculptors.

I know David Hockney is still going and doing decent stuff but the prime work of all of those is fifty years ago.

The best I can come up with since are Jack Vettriani and Anthony Gormley and they're both one trick ponies IMHO.

So on who am I missing out? Or has the switch of focus onto populist novelties meant that there really isn't anyone of the status of the four I name checked?

If anyone knows that is.

 

Peter Randall-Page is one

He created The Seed at Eden and more recently, the clever "The One and The Many"

http://www.theoneandthemany.co.uk/

But the current British 'arts' world is a bit of a closed shop.

For example access to the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square is controlled by The Plinth Commissioning Group under the aegis of the Mayor of London. You are not allowed to submit ideas to the Fourth Plinth Commissioning group, you have to wait to be invited to submit an idea. Consequently, you don't stand a chance if you are not in the Commissioning groups address book of artistic cronies. They don't want someone outside the 'arts clique' to get access to that plinth, oh no. The Plinth is there for patronage.

Edited by Hopeful

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In my very uneducated opinion (although I go to a lot of galleries, exhibitions and art sales) what most people consider decent fine art is almost non-existent these days. A few reasons, firstly it's insanely difficult and labour intensive, so very few people have the skill or time, it's not commercially viable and with photography a huge part of fine art (i.e. recording what somebody looked like) is now null and void.

In the past it was a true vocation, you need money or backers to be an artist, but now any old joe blogs can go down the pound shop and by a ton of canvas and paints and knock something up. Reproduction costs are also minimal and so owning any form of art is now affordable where in the past it wasn't, so again going back to financial viability.

For the successful "modern" artists it's as much about concept than artistic execution, that's not to say when you scratch the surface there isn't more depth.

So going back to the original question, it's a numbers game in that it's difficult for an artist to really stand out given the number of people producing work. There are well respected artists within the art world, but they get lost in the noise when it comes to the public. 

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I too have a friend who is an artist. He has had work in the National Portrait Gallery. If I were to win the lottery I would buy one of his but £8000 is a bit too much for me at the moment although looking at his paintings, knowing the work and seeing the obvious talent it does not seem over priced as so much of the stuff on the walls beside his does.

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59 minutes ago, Hail the Tripod said:

I thought "the Angel of the North" looked like dogshit on TV, but when I saw it in real life it was magnificent.

They seem to have one camera angle that they use on TV to make it appear it's in the middle of nowhere, when the reality couldn't be more different.

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The cliche,  but I will say it,  is Banksy.

I was working in Bristol when he did the museum there..  there was nobody about and I just wandered in to take a look.   Really interesting exhibits and something clever about them I couldn't quite put my finger on..  some very simple,  but somehow got it "just right".  I guess that eye for perfection is what makes a great artist.

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I know a very successful artist (some of their work has sold for over £1 mil). They were chosen by a rich benefactor in the art world before they were well known, then reading between the lines had their work "pumped up" by the benefactor and his rich friends. I'd assume this patreon would have received lots of the pieces at rock bottom rates to sell at a later date.

Thus my conclusion is that mainstream modern art (the stuff we're told to like) is a complete scam and has nothing to do with taste, only money and greed.

Edited by gibbon

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14 minutes ago, Libspero said:

The cliche,  but I will say it,  is Banksy.

I was working in Bristol when he did the museum there..  there was nobody about and I just wandered in to take a look.   Really interesting exhibits and something clever about them I couldn't quite put my finger on..  some very simple,  but somehow got it "just right".  I guess that eye for perfection is what makes a great artist.

He is the West Country's Rolf Harris.

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I like Thomas Heatherwicks stuff and Conrad Shawcross. Im sure theres loads of budding and flowered talent out there but the ones that get famous are generally shite compared to the unknowns.  And as Lispero says theres normally a scam going on behind them.

Edit. Meant gibbon not lispero.

 

Edited by Poseidon
.

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1 hour ago, gibbon said:

I know a very successful artist (some of their work has sold for over £1 mil). They were chosen by a rich benefactor in the art world before they were well known, then reading between the lines had their work "pumped up" by the benefactor and his rich friends. I'd assume this patreon would have received lots of the pieces at rock bottom rates to sell at a later date.

Thus my conclusion is that mainstream modern art (the stuff we're told to like) is a complete scam and has nothing to do with taste, only money and greed.

I'm not unconvinced it's not just another thing to troll/taunt the hardworking common sense general public with.

A trendy artist, in his time, I know, whose work sells for minimum five figures keeps all his work in a crappy farmer's barn when it's not in galleries. I asked him how much it cost to insure it all and he said he didn't bother as insurance was really expensive and if one got ruined he would 'just do another one'. Hard to imagine Michelangelo saying the same thing about the Sistine Chapel.

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2 hours ago, eight said:

They seem to have one camera angle that they use on TV to make it appear it's in the middle of nowhere, when the reality couldn't be more different.

I recall Homebase commissioned Gormley, and a load of others, to design a special range of products for them in the nineties. Had a real Emperor's New Clothes thing with Homebase acting thrilled with it - it was just a metal dowel. A quick scour of the internet suggests it took about a decade for reality to catch up and I suspect the whole thing is quietly forgotten by all concerned now.

Quote

So why not draw a line between art and design? After all, if designers usually make bad art, think of the awful results when artists make something functional. Who recalls Antony Gormley’s banal coat hook and Anish Kapoor’s tatty-looking light for Homebase? The only good reason to buy such bad design is that it’s a cheap way to buy overpriced art.

https://www.designweek.co.uk/issues/22-may-2003/designs-case-of-art-failure/

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The opening of the Baltic and the Gormley exhibition were a big deal by impoverished North East standards; lots of people I know (me included) went out of their way to see the Domain Field installation, probably the only experience of "art" for most in their lifetimes. It's easy to scoff but a lot of people I spoke to said the same thing; entrance was via a balcony overlooking the main hall, and many described feeling an almost overwhelming urge to go down and be among the figures. I guess it is this emotional connection that turns a lot of frankly poorly constructed metal stick figurines into a "work of art". 

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1 minute ago, eight said:

The opening of the Baltic and the Gormley exhibition were a big deal by impoverished North East standards; lots of people I know (me included) went out of their way to see the Domain Field installation, probably the only experience of "art" for most in their lifetimes. It's easy to scoff but a lot of people I spoke to said the same thing; entrance was via a balcony overlooking the main hall, and many described feeling an almost overwhelming urge to go down and be among the figures. I guess it is this emotional connection that turns a lot of frankly poorly constructed metal stick figurines into a "work of art". 

Similar thing, I think, with the Tower of London poppies, incredibly weird vibe when I stopped there after it had gathered momentum. Think TPTB swiftly put a lid on it, after originally pumping it up, as it was verging into uncontrollable mass hysteria. 

Wooton Bassett thing had to be quietly swept away too I think for similar reasons. Oddly the town's people, who started it were probably real believers in the system but didn't understand the cardinal rule of never embarrassing TPTB and their actions ultimately lost the town the benefit of a military base there.

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4 hours ago, gilf said:

In my very uneducated opinion (although I go to a lot of galleries, exhibitions and art sales) what most people consider decent fine art is almost non-existent these days. A few reasons, firstly it's insanely difficult and labour intensive, so very few people have the skill or time, it's not commercially viable and with photography a huge part of fine art (i.e. recording what somebody looked like) is now null and void.

In the past it was a true vocation, you need money or backers to be an artist, but now any old joe blogs can go down the pound shop and by a ton of canvas and paints and knock something up. Reproduction costs are also minimal and so owning any form of art is now affordable where in the past it wasn't, so again going back to financial viability.

For the successful "modern" artists it's as much about concept than artistic execution, that's not to say when you scratch the surface there isn't more depth.

So going back to the original question, it's a numbers game in that it's difficult for an artist to really stand out given the number of people producing work. There are well respected artists within the art world, but they get lost in the noise when it comes to the public. 

Excellent analysis, but whilst I can see that would mean that you're not going to get a pre-Raphaelite group of painters again I don't see why somebody couldn't replicate the individual success of Hockney, Bacon, or even Picasso.

I do not have a great eye for art but if I had seen an early work by the first two, maybe not Picasso, and it was reasonably priced then I'd have bought it because there was IMHO an undeniable quality about it with no obvious imitation of another.

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53 minutes ago, Frank Hovis said:

Excellent analysis, but whilst I can see that would mean that you're not going to get a pre-Raphaelite group of painters again I don't see why somebody couldn't replicate the individual success of Hockney, Bacon, or even Picasso.

While I've focused on the fine art side, the thing with those three (and their contemporaries) would fit into the camp of proper artists. What I mean by that is, studied art, decided on it as a vocation and then seen it through. They were not in a crowded market that we have now where anybody could knock up something in a similar style, it took dedication.  

One of the issues is we have become jaded as a society towards art, by that I mean we have now seen it all. Warhol painted cans of soup, I could paint cans of soup, possibly to the same standard, the reality is that what Warhol did was "revolutionary" at the time, the art and skill is not in the physical painting but the concept. Same with Hockney, from a technical point of view he wasn't that great, but he had a certain touch and style of his own that at the time was very different (the fact it was vibrant and evocative helped massively). 

I think what I'm saying is the once you got past the 60/70's we had really gone past the age of invention when it comes to art (at least from a painting perspective), it's now very difficult to come up with something unique and original, whereas those big names in the past were capable of that and in a space to exploit it.

As I say I'm not an expert, could all be bollocks. I do however go to the RA summer exhibition every year, they have a lot of paintings on show, some amazing some less so, but almost nothing you look at and say "wow, I've seen nothing like that before".

Sgt Harman mentioned bands/music, I'd say it's the same thing. In the past you could have a Beatles/Rolling Stones emerge because the man in the street wasn't able to replicate that, you can now do it in your bedroom but so can a million others. 

 

 

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One of the most striking paintings I've ever seen was 'The Scapegoat' at the Lever Gallery.

I spent ages looking at it, for me there was something almost otherworldly about the painting not to mention mildly unsettling.

I found it fascinating (as well as a bit creepy) and have often contemplated driving back over there just to look at it. Its a fifty mile trip.

 

NML_LLG_LL_3623.jpg

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There's a British artist called Yvonne Coomber -  she's based down here in the Westcountry and she does bright abstract flowery/sky scenes like this, which you may have seen?

Mermaids-song.jpg

 

Mrs B loves them, but her originals are £2000-£4,500 and I'm tight, so I thought I'd have a crack at one for her 40th B'day...

viptuw.jpg

 

 

I don't think it's too bad an effort (it's a lot lighter in real life) and I reckon I could churn out around 5 a day.

 

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