Friday, November 16, 2007
Art Space Opinions: David Lee on Current Art Movements
David Lee is a British art critic who was once the editor of Art Review magazine. He is now the publisher and editor of The Jackdaw-- an art magazine that is satirical, opinionated and often vitriolic. www.thejackdaw.co.uk
Brian Sherwin: David, with the advent of the Internet contemporary art movements have increased in number. For example, the art movement Stuckism, founded by Charles Thomson and Billy Childish, has splinter groups around the globe-- the movement is represented in over 40 countries. In Japan the Superflat art movement, founded by the artist Takashi Murakami, has influenced a generation of young artists. In Ireland the Defastenist art movement continues to expand both in artistic and political ideology. These groups continue to reach out to new members on networking sites like myspace.com and facebook.com. There is no doubt that their numbers will grow.
What is your opinion about art movements that are fueled by the Internet? Should we question the validity of these movements-- is it harmful for artists to become involved with movements in this manner? Can they be successful? What is your opinion in regards to this issue?
David Lee: Brian, I have no knowledge of most of these 'movements' and no desire to see them. I go to see works only that interest me, and that rarely. Life is too short for the rest of it. 99.99% of what I've seen in the last 25 years is shite. And even among the small number of things I think I might want to see a large proportion is rubbish.
In October I saw the Turner Prize in Liverpool. With the exception of Mike Nelson the work on show was indistinguishable from that of students piss-poor ones. At the Yorkshire Sculpture Park I saw 'Sheep Drawings' by Andy Goldsworthy that would have shamed a children's workshop... I have interest only in individual works seen face to face. Movements are for amateurs who need camaraderie and mutual support for the crap work they produce I mean just look at the paintings produced by the Stuckists!
Self-styled movements are in the end bound to be restrictive precisely because they are prescriptive. Vantongerloo, van Doesburg and Mondrian are interesting individuals way before they are interesting De Stijl-ists or Constructivists. As far as recent movements are concerned I look forward to the day when someone writes a polemic about Modern Art entitled 'From Impressionism to Opportunism'.