THOUGHTS ON CONCEPTUALISM

I went to the Palais de Tokyo yesterday to see the curated show FRESH HELL. I had to walk past the 200 long queue of people waiting to get into the Basquiat and Larry Clark exhibits at the Art Moderne next door. Almost no-one went to the Tokyo. Can tell you why. The extremely dense and difficult commentary by the curator Adam McEwan, left me puzzled – here is a random sentence: “It’s good when one work is allowed to generate friction with another, and better when you then add a third and the possible meanings start to become unpredictable. They heat up and a sense of chaos begins to seep out.” Maybe he was referring to Sarah Lucas’s burnt chair,

or maybe Jessica Diamond’s drawing against the wall said it all….

I am beginning to realize how difficult it is to curate such a big show, but this one left me tired and feeling stupid. So i googled the Turner prize winners just to become more acquainted with contemporary art, and the good old British put everything back into perspective.
In 2001 Martin Creed won the prize with a piece that consisted of a large empty room with a light bulb that flashed on and off. “There was a demand for less elitism in the selection process, less “conceptual art” and an attach was launched on the “art world” language used to contextualize the exhibition …. The choice of Madonna as presenter of the award was criticized as a cynical market strategy” Germain Greer: He wanted to get the biggest effect with the least effort”
Then in 2006 Tomma Abts, a painter, is selected as the winner, and Tom Cornell of the Scotsman writes: After years of unmade beds (Tracy Emin) pickled sheep (Damien Hirst) and light bulbs that switch on and off, Britain’s most prestigious prize has been won last night by the most unlikely of artists – a painter. The picture on the wall is the work by Jeremy Deller that is doing so well for him.

In yesterday’s Sunday Times i read an article about Jeremy Deller, another Turner prize winner. Here’s what happens to these winners; Four taxpayer-funded collections have each bought an identical print of this artist’s work. With every purchase, the price went up. First it cost 250 pound in 1998. Finally the GAC bought one for 6000 pound. Deller is at the forefront of a campaign by artists to ensure public spending on the arts is not cut. Any guesses why?

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