The Future of Art Part 8 CHARLES THOMSON Founder Stuckist


The current art establishment is a mirror image of the Victorian art establishment, replacing tradition with novelty, pomposity with pretentiousness, sentiment with vacuity, and craft with junk. It is equally superficial, and, because it is likewise based on fashionable taste, will be similarly ephemeral.

Today’s power brokers are as confident as their 19th century predecessors of the enduring worth of their position, and are reassured by the auction results of Jeff Koons, just as the Victorians were by the 1882 record-breaker, The Babylonian Marriage Market, by Edwin Long. Who? Quite. Within a decade of his death, Long’s work had plummeted to 10% of its former value.

We can hold a similar prognosis for today’s art stars. There is nothing as unwanted as novelty when it is no longer new. However, when it has massive institutional investment, it can exhibit remarkable stubbornness before it reaches it due demise, not to mention a vicious contempt for the art that is due to replace it.

I don’t see anything happening overnight. The art of the future is already here, but marginalised. It embodies a paradigm of depth and genuine engagement with life and experience, as well as the means to communicate that.

A fundamental is that art cannot have merit by ideas alone. Concepts are, as Miroslaw Balka said in an Oxford Union debate last November, “the spine of art.” I answered him, “but what would we look like walking around just a spine?” The heart of art is emotion, and its warm flesh and blood is the way it is made through the skilful use of a medium of expressive subtlety which gives the ideas life.

The refusal of painting to lie down and die is simply because it provides that potential, but more important are the values which its practitioners embody and which have led them to it.

The Stuckists group, which I co-founded with Billy Childish in 1999 (he left in 2001) is the most vocal – and hence most derided – exponent of those values. The global response can be seen in the expansion of the Stuckists from 13 founding artists to over 200 groups in 48 countries as of 2010. The Stuckists do not have a monopoly: there are many artists who work in a similar way, but lack media access and have been left out in the cold.

Damien Hirst

An astonishing validation of real values occurred in the recent paintings of Damien Hirst exhibited at the Wallace Collection, and almost universally derided in a frenzy of fear and embarrassment by the critical caucus, after he pronounced conceptual art a “dead end” and said, “I always thought painting was the best thing to do.”

Having marched straight into the Stuckist camp, Hirst has met with the same scathing reaction: when distorted perception praises the false as true, then inevitably the true is condemned as false. He embodies the emerging paradigm of meaning, intellectual and emotional integration and integrity, and the direct, uncensored communication of that through personal technical means, which are dictated by the vision and are not the vision or end in themselves.

He is not the best to be doing this right now, but he is an admirable proponent of it, and is also the most prominent. His volte-face is in itself one of the most remarkable events of contemporary art. His manifest integrity and independence of action will win through. Then artists such as Joe Machine, Paul Harvey and, Ella Guru may also get the recognition they merit.







FUTURE OR ART Hans Ulrich Obrist – PART ONE

Future Of Art was produced by Ben Lewis

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine Founder and co-publisher Art of Conversation and founder of the platform @worldoffad

2 thoughts on “The Future of Art Part 8 CHARLES THOMSON Founder Stuckist

  1. Thomson’s analysis is right on. I’ve suggested the following main problems with modern art (which hasn’t been modern in about 100 years).
    1. Cold 2. Disjointed 3. Can’t communicate it’s message 4.Weird 5.Elitist 6. Technically poor if there is technique at all 7. Pompous and inflated, often takes up a room 8. Non functional, not useful, not integrated into life 9 No breath or scope.
    Note the “Snake Oil” video on youtube, which uses conceptual art to END conceptual art – or at least its abuses; and get back to basics in art.

  2. In response and acknowledgment to your thoughts, with a few of my own

    A ferocious Decaying joke

    Artists should take up positions totally at odds with the modern tradition of “Juvenile reactionary Art”. Revolutionaries! Should follow in the footsteps of Surrealism, originating from all parts of Europe at the very moment when a new epoch is needed, launching into a contemporary massacre, striving towards a sacred national institution, while combining references to great national art, denunciation of dictatorships and playful interpretations of detective stories, women’s magazines, criminals and the comics. In favour of figurative subjects that impinged more directly upon the senses and emotions. While abandoning the solitariness of the studio to seek inspiration from real human nature, Nature in her fullness and most outspoken, the tabloid/ street corner and interpreting the flesh and blood and the scream’s of the human soul, producing outspoken painting that capture the spirit of the times, making full use of everyday images generated by consumer understanding of today while avoiding Juvenility. Paintings brimmed over with humour and mockery, exploiting anecdotes, honour/ nobility and most of all History with a capital H, together with allegories /mythologies and human endeavour. The juvenile art has lost its impertinence and power. Through which the whole technique of painting has decayed, we need to recover of what may be called the “Innocence of the eye”, that is to say of childish perception coupled with perception through collective intelligence of the tints of colour, merely as such, the technique with consciousness of what that signifies.
    The conception of Art should take on Four aspects, One “ Great Art is that, precisely that which has never been” Two “Do you think in three years you will have forgotten this image” Three “No on can forget it once he or she has seen it” Four “conceive without fear but with judgment and knowledge” The Artist should embrace all form of expression not withstanding to one faculty of discipline, Painting/Sculpture/ Caving/ Design/ Printing/ Writing/ Poetry/ Craft/ Graphics/and Technique, est. All of the above should be avenues of dialog though understanding your surroundings and of the self and intern all of man and woman kind. This could be the most beautiful and profound Cultural Revolution made without barricades, the insurrectional violence inspired through the mind alone. Excavation is an anti-barricade; it restores to the past by means of circulating in the future. It was through excavation, by the discovery of the remains of classical sculpture, that there arose in the sixteenth centaury that Cultural Revolution very properly termed the renaissance. Any authentic cultural revolution must undertake the realisation of a new style. The Louis-XIV style was the apotheosis of the renaissance. It was destroyed by the French Revolution, which bestowed on the bourgeoisie a degrading power.
    The New Art should be related to colour, structure quantified institutions and justice, “Whatever the Cultural Revolution goes, fantasy should spring up in its wake, cemented with technique”. Since humanity itself emerges from fantasy. It is the whole mysterious side of Art; because we come from the unknown depths of physical fantasy hence! art should spring though society. The universe is limitless as with are artistic discoveries through revolution, containing the maximum aesthetic energy of the new. Today the preoccupation with the hypnotic circus television of which the masses, uncultivated surround, televisions absorbing its penetrating lack of taste, The impact of television should cause them to think, but in only imparts a hypnotic collective awareness of our sociological culturally stifled understanding, cultivating in a lack of taste prescribing to the indoctrinating artistic juvenility. And now be assured that we our Revolutionist! Without barricade finally reaching the conclusion, for the reader might begin to grow impatient and rightly wonder what this artistic preamble is leading up to, a most justifiable expectation which, far from displeasing delights you since it allows you to at once and in the most dazzlingly veracious way immediately become secured in a triumph of the spirit and emotions. Formulation with ancient harmony within a concept of modern ideology, while leaving the audience, to declare to themselves that art has become incorporated in to the great traditions of the middle ages and the Renaissance.
    We are going deep into the living reality of our country that no one knows, the most fantastic, original, violent and philosophical of all. To set about the discovery of Britain, despite its easily accessible geographical situation, we need all the complicated tools of the complete explorer, from the dome of St Pauls to that one person! That is going about his or her day, for it is certain that we shall have to ascend and descend constantly into the most contradictory, profound, and dazzling regions of life of the people. The life of these people is marked by the biological sign of echoing emotion of blood and flesh, the authentic revolution of Eden. I proclaim that the Revolution without – barricade is upon you! A presentation of your shame through idleness while in bed watching square pants –sponge bob, scratching and discarding waste gases. The reopening of artistic conciseness in Britain while Amesbury Archer arguments priddy circles conjuring lost spirits of Britain. You should give great thought to the immediate idea of purpose, satisfying the curiosity of the impeded emotions, of your great works of art, are there to satisfy the curiosity of the Sunday stroller. Not the juvenility of the immediate dilatants that supports a cultural vacuum through idleness of the mind. On the contrary Great Works of Art are apart of a living organism that grows and breaths and acts, a living organism that can die, too, if its vital purpose is not fulfilled. I give you the first glance at the continual growth and evolution of the Revolution without- barricade which has not yet had the leisure of the enthroned critique of history. A history that will support a censorship and illuminate the juvenile and usurp the collective subconscious of interpretation by the general public, in ways that the competent authority of revolution would consider undesirable for the young revolutionaries. Of which must taking a much more legitimate descriptive programme of broadcast, that cannot be judged by public fevered by juvenile subversion, and might prejudice the moral prestige of the visual broadcast of the virtue of British artistic chastity the prototype made of Turner the greatest of all British Painters.

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