About Me

"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Friday, 7 October 2016

Is it art, or is it "art', with a capital "F"?

"I'm thinking about going to Frieze but not really sure if I can be bothered..." OK but it is only thanks to the organisers of the
current Frieze Art Fair in Regent's Park that we get to see this rather fascinating work by Goshka Macuga for free in the
Frieze Sculpture Garden, open to all for the duration. So if what follows seems a bit bitter, a bit sour grapes,
please forgive me.
It's hardly news, but if you really do need to get your nose rubbed in the reality of what the "art" world truly is these days, then hop off the tube at Regents PArk.

We are in Frieze season. A whole lot of horrible white plastic prefabs are dumped on the that south-east corner of the park, and people with lots of money or friends in the business are encouraged to dress up a bit and go and look at a few thousand square metres of what the world's most successful galleries reckon are the hottest things in contemporary art.

But because it's in London, England, it has become much more about who goes, when, and with whom, and where they go afterwards, and what they wore. And what food was served, by whom.

Oh, the art? Yes, that was...interestingly... the same old stuff, served up by some of the same old names, and a few newer names. The sieve has been shaken (as it is each year) and few more jewelled characters are allowed to enter the great sandpit of modern art.

Frieze has become one more bit of London's social season, a nice return to elitism after the mock democracy of the Proms.

This is the art world equivalent of the arms industry beanfeast down at Excel in docklands. It's just another very successful trade show; a place to sell, a place to buy.

But to take part you do need to be a serious player. Try to visit. Try to cross the outer circle road in the park, as gleaming black Mercs and Bentleys and Audis and Range Rovers swish through, a sort of funeral cortege for everything anyone ever held dear in the name of art.

Make sure you have your complimentary tickets at the ready, or that you are on Deutsche Bank's corporate sponsor guest list. Or that you have fifty quid or so at the ready to buy your way in. Just like Wimbledon or London Fashion Week or the Proms or (for all I know) Royal Ascot you need to be determined to get into these big society events during the season. It's all part of the territory, dearie, and it always has been ! (Says bitter and very twisted ex-hack).
Let's all thank Frieze for reminding us of this wonderful 1959 work by Lynn
Chadwick, Stranger III. It should stay here for ever.

Can you remember when Frieze was new and radical and belonged to bright anti-eastablishment things, all fresh out of Goldsmiths, or wherever?

No. Oh god, no. No dear, it was never like that, they were never banned from the established galleries. They were not the impressionists nor the expressionists nor the dadaists. They'd already learned lessons from Great Uncle Andy and daddy Charles.

The YBAs cohort knew much much better: they were the contemporaries of the bright kids who went into the big commercial banks in the newly-built Canary Wharf and knew how to leverage an equity release, how to talk up stock, how to play the media game, how to disappear at the crucial moment. But they are old hat, yesterday's papers anyway.

The new lot are even smarter. They know that cities like London being filled with brand new ultra-expensive apartments, all of which need art on their walls, just as they also need public sculpture in the spaces between the gigantic blocks and towers. What an opportunity! And what a wonderful vacuum for Frieze participants to fill, with plenty of love and care and devotion.

That's the new art. Try looking for it in Regent's Park. It could make your fortune - or it could bite you in the ass like half of one of that man's pickled sharks.

Or be like me, the eternal hypocrite, the voyeur, the gormless and grinning observer, the grateful flunky. The one who bows, scrapes and takes it up the backside for 40 years in exchange for a few hundred nectar points, and then eventually suffocates in his own regurgitated bile.

Enjoy the spectacle, lick up the salty morsels the super-rich scatter around themselves. They can't help it, it confirms their wealth.  At this year's Frieze they have allowed a few lovely pieces of sculpture to escape the fold, they are in the "free" zone. Go and see them: they might be better value than the stuff inside.

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