ARTISTS: Charles Thomson is Stuck in the Remodern

High-res-image-Top-Hat-for-Promotion-Material

Charles Thomson “Top Hat”

The Stuckist is not a career artist but rather an amateur (amare, Latin, to love) who takes risks on the canvas rather than hiding behind ready-made objects (e.g. a dead sheep). The amateur, far from being second to the professional, is at the forefront of experimentation, unencumbered by the need to be seen as infallible. Leaps of human endeavour are made by the intrepid individual, because he/she does not have to protect their status. Unlike the professional, the Stuckist is not afraid to fail.

-Billy Childish and Charles Thomson, The Stuckist Manifesto

.

In October, the international art movement Stuckism will be the subject of a significant exhibit at the University of Kent, Canterbury England.

It’s not easy to gain such institutional recognition when a large part of your reputation comes from directly challenging the pretensions and presumptions of the arts establishment, instead of conforming to their elitist notions of socially acceptable targets. And yet, over fifteen years after the first group was founded, Stuckism is gaining a grudging acknowledgement as a relevant and historic part of the ongoing continuum of art.

I had no idea: Conceptual art
I had no idea: Conceptual art

In 1999 London was arguably the art capital of the world, and there was sensational hype around Conceptual art: the idea that an idea was all that mattered, and the more off putting the idea was, the better. Conceptual artists mostly aren’t talented enough to create their own art, which is farmed out to technicians and craftsmen. The main functions Conceptual artists fulfill is to act as loutish PR agents for their own awesomeness, suck up to high roller investors, and enact the exhausted and hollow rituals of shocking the bourgeois. They are enabled in these charades by a compliant media, the thoroughly compromised academy, corrupted cultural institutions, and ignorant, trophy hunting tycoons. In the Post Modern age, admittance to the New Class aristocracy of the well connected requires capitulation to their nihilistic and decadent world view, in addition to the usual grovelling and throne sniffing. The results of all this collusion are hideous.

But confronted by this festering pit of cultural suicide, some chose to articulate the promptings from the still, small voice inside. The voice that pointed out art is not about money, power and celebrity. Art is about seeking integrity, accepting responsibility for our own struggles for personal growth, and sharing that process so others can see. Art is a tool for communication and connection, and to treat it as an exclusive toy for an arrogant ruling class is an insult to humanity.

Such ideas led to the founding of Stuckism, codified in a manifesto written by two English creatives, Billy Childish and Charles Thomson. The first group exhibit of these independent artists was held in September 1999. Since then, over 230 Stuckist groups have been established in 52 countries all around the world.

Stuckism made a splash by embracing the kind of urgent, expressive figurative painting considered unfashionable at the time by art world technocrats. There’s not one set style of Stuckism; it’s more a matter of motivation. Instead of aiming to create slick commodities, a Stuckist is more concerned with trying to trying to honestly engage with the process of creation, making both mistakes and discoveries along the way.

Childish and Thomson took their ideas a step further in the Remodernism manifesto. There they identified the elite have broken their credibility by favoring materialistic, relativistic Post Modern thought. The neglect of the spiritual nature of life is corrected by recognizing the experimental nature of Modern art as an expression of the soul.

Like Groucho Marx, another infamous mustached iconoclast, Childish wouldn’t be a part of any club that would have him as a member. Billy soon left the group that he helped to define, although he continues to paint, with increasing success. He now describes himself as “an armchair Stuckist;” while he appreciates the ideas, the tasks involved in organizing and maintaining a global network of artists aren’t for him.

However, his co-founder Charles Thomson has remained committed to providing a structure in which idealistic artists can operate and network. Since starting Stuckism, Thomson has continued to perform as an arts activist and advocate.  He writes, speaks, protests and critiques, as well as creating his own Cloisonnism inspired paintings; his most recent solo exhibit is being held this fall in Prague. His efforts have provided a much needed perspective on the dysfunctional establishment art world.

I was honored to be asked to take part in the Kent exhibit, and wanted to take the opportunity to find out more about Charles Thomson’s thoughts on the past, present and future of the arts and culture. We completed the following interview in email exchanges.

.

Founder: Charles Thomson
Founder: Charles Thomson

How did you initially get involved in the visual arts?

Charles Thomson: I did a coloured crayon drawing of my teddy bear and sold it to my grandfather for a penny. I was about five at the time. It’s carried on from there. I have – with occasional lapses – always been involved in a creative field, poetry or painting.

How did you come to found the Stuckist movement?

CT: It was a vehicle to promote a group of artists who paint contemporary pictures with ideas, emotion and meaning, as opposed to exhibiting a dead shark and calling it art (whereas most of the rest of the world calls it a dead shark). I had the idea for the group and co-founded it in 1999 with Billy Childish (who left after a couple of years).

Why do you think it has gained such an international following?

CT: It embodies the values that a lot of artists have, but who find themselves sidelined by a Postmodern ethos that puts celebrity, cynicism and commerce above any spiritual or deeper human values.

What makes an artist a Stuckist?

CT: They appoint themselves, in the same way that people became Impressionists or Surrealists etc.

You collaborated on two major manifestos: Stuckism and Remodernism. The Stuckist Manifesto directly addresses the mismanagement and excesses of the contemporary establishment art world. The Remodernist Manifesto evokes a larger social context with vast implications. It provides a positive alternative to the sophistry and manipulations of the Post Modern mindset so prevalent among cultural elitists. How did the writings of these two works develop?

CT: With great difficulty. It’s not too difficult to know what your values are. It’s a lot harder to express them. It’s harder still to express them in a meaningful and memorable way. That last part was quite an ordeal. Fortunately both Billy Childish (with whom I co-wrote the manifestos) and I had worked for many years in writing and poetry, so we had a lot of verbal resources to draw on.

Another issue was that Billy and I came from very different directions. I would say that he was rhetorical and I was analytical. The meshing of these approaches was very trying at times, but ultimately very rewarding.

Why do you think the cultural elites advocate such dysfunctional art?

CT: Because they are dysfunctional elites, cultural in professed aspiration but driven by a realpolitik of kudos and cash.

The arts and media elites reacted with hostility when the Stuckists were founded. But now it seems whenever the press wants a comment on the latest conceptual art outrage they seek you out. What has your relationship been like with the establishment cultural industries? Has there been any change through the years?

CT: The situation has not substantially changed. In the UK, the press in particular – and the media in general – is divided into two sections, namely art criticism/review and art news, the former mostly written by specialist critics, i.e. collaborators of the art establishment,  and the latter mostly written by standard journalists, i.e. opponents of the art establishment. Arts journalists speak to a much wider readership than the arts pages at the back of the paper, and they provide a much more rounded view.

The art establishment has softened slightly, but is still very much opposed to Stuckism. What is happening now though is that a new generation is growing up with an acceptance of Stuckism as a valid entity, embodied in, for example, the Penguin Modern Classics book, “100 Artists’ Manifestos: from the Futurists to the Stuckists”, edited by Alex Danchev.

There seems to be a connection between Stuckism and alternative music. Black Francis of the legendary band the Pixies founded the Amherst Stuckists, and is represented in this exhibit. Kid Congo Powers of the Cramps has expressed his admiration. And movement co-founder Billy Childish is a prolific garage rock recording artist. What do you think inspires these musicians about an artistic philosophy like Stuckism?

CT: They basically have the same philosophy – of making art that is genuine, expressive and inspiring. The music world interacts with its wider audience, as does Stuckism, whereas the established art world ignores its audience and interacts with its power brokers.

Stuckist protest at the Tate Museum 2002
Stuckist protest at the Tate Museum 2002

The Stuckists were infamous for protesting the annual art event the Turner Prize, but now have discontinued the process. What were some notable things about the protests? Why have you discontinued them?

CT: One notable thing was longevity – we protested from 2000 for 15 years. Another was the spectacle and ridicule. We dressed as clowns initially and walked through the gallery like that. Last year we were there handing out leaflets to apologise that we weren’t protesting because the exhibits were so bad they weren’t worth protesting about. (That amused the press.) The protests struck a deep chord with the general public and also the news pages of the press. The protests were a lot more meaningful than the exhibits. We may have discontinued them, but then again we may not.

How did this show at the University of Kent come about?

CT: The students of the MA Curating course invited the Stuckists for a show as their end of course project. I collaborated with them on the form it should take, which is a representation of Stuckism now, based on UK Stuckists but showing the relationship with Stuckists internationally.

Are you optimistic about the direction the arts are going in? Why?

CT: I do my work and I see my colleagues doing theirs. This has been a collaboration stretching back in some cases to the late 1970s. This is the direction art is going in as far as I am concerned. As for the wider picture, I recommend a study of history. We are in a mirror image/parallel world to the nineteenth century, where an ossified establishment was opposed by pioneering radicals.

What is happening in your own art now?

CT: A mini-renaissance. Finally after about three decades, I am painting the way I have always wanted to, which marries the opposites of free expression and disciplined definition.

Why does art matter in the 21st century?

CT: It is an aspect of human experience that is valuable and cannot be accessed through other means in quite the same way.

If someone is concerned about the state of the culture, what should they do?

CT: I guess that depends on what they are concerned about exactly. From my perspective, they should support Stuckism and seek to understand what is really driving it, not what its media reputation is.

.

Stuckism: Remodernizing the Mainstream

Studio 3 Gallery, Jarman Building, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7UG

1 October – 11 December 2015

Artists include: Philip Absolon, Floyd Anthony Alsbach, Virginia Andow, Richard Bledsoe, Godfrey Blow, John Bourne, Nick Christos, Jonathon Coudrille, Adam Crosland, Mark D, Elsa Dax, Hamed Dehnavi, Artista Eli, Eamon Everall, Black Francis, Andrew Galbraith, Ella Guru, Paul Harvey, Jiri Hauschka, Wolf Howard, Edgeworth Johnstone, Jacqueline Jones, Jane Kelly, Shelley Li, Joe Machine, Terry Marks, Peter Murphy, Bill Lewis, Persita, Justin Piperger, Emma Pugmire, Farsam Sangini, Frank Schroeder, Jasmine Surreal, Charles Thomson, Marketa Urbanova, Yaroslav Valecka, Charles Williams, Odysseus Yakoumakis, Chris Yates, Annie Zamero.

EXHIBITION: Patriotic Art Auction to Benefit the Families of the Chattanooga 5

 

MemorialAuditoriumPic1_t618

The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium, Chattanooga Tennessee

THE PATRIOTIC ART AUCTION

September 24 – October 8, 2015

Opening Reception Thursday 9/24 5:30-7:30 pm

The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium Lobby

399 McCallie Ave.

Chattanooga, TN 37402

 

It’s painful to contemplate. The rotted husks of what were once our cultural institutions are profoundly failing to serve their vital role in civil society.

Fortunately, when the institutions have succumbed to corruption, it gives the people a chance to rise up, and take matters into their own hands.

We are seeing a dramatic shift in the ways the American people respond to the systematic failures of our government, media, and academia. One upcoming event shows this new direction, made in response to the existing establishment’s wholly inadequate response to a horrific act.

On July 16, 2015, a man named Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire on two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Before he was finally killed by the police, he had inflicted fatal injuries on four US Marines and one sailor.  Sergent Carson A. Holmquist, Gunnery Sergent Thomas J. Sullivan, Lance Corporal Squire K. “Skip” Wells, Staff Sergent David A. Wyatt,  and Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith all died as a result of the attack.

chattanooga-victims-comp

Killed in the line of duty, right here in the United States

The Islamic shooter researched “martyrdom” as recently as a day before his murderous spree. However, we are fortunate to have government officials and media around to assure everyone the degenerate killer’s motives were unknown. Such a mystery!

Within days of this horrific mass murder inflicted on American service members right in the heartland, the story sunk from sight. It’s a terrible reality that does too much to disrupt the happy talk narrative the entire establishment class is so invested in: that the results of their corrupt pursuit of unaccountable power for themselves on one hand, and abject capitulation before our enemies on the other, means peace, happiness and pet unicorns all around.

Barack Obama, the Commander in Chief of our nation’s armed forces, didn’t even order the ceremonial lowering of American flags to half mast until days after the incident, and only after being confronted with intense criticism.

Burying the story was easy, because most media, academic and cultural elitists engage in dogmatic hostility towards the US Military anyway. But outside of the insular, incestuous Beltway/Ivy League Axis, and their coastal strongholds of Post-Modern magical thinking,  there are still those who understand the sacrifices our fighting men and women make on the behalf of the rest of us. We want to show our gratitude to not only the warriors, but to their families as well.

Before the visual arts became a plaything for the decadent crypto-Marxist glitterati, there was a time when the arts served as a force for communal bonding and communication. There are signs that this function, art’s traditional role in our civilization, is undergoing a resurgence.

The grassroots had to step in where officials were failing to lead. Local artists in Tennessee were moved to create an art show in tribute to the fallen, hoping to be able to raise some funds for the loved ones left behind. They devised the idea of a Patriotic Art Auction, not the sort of thing you would ever find in today’s typical establishment-networked galleries and museums.

I was invited to take part in this DIY show through my social media connections with Liberatchik founder Frances Byrd, a culture warrior in her own right. Frances took some time to describe the art show and  her larger mission:

What is the Patriotic Art Show Event?
Frances Byrd: Following the July 16 shootings in Chattanooga, a fellow artist from Tennessee reached out to me for help organizing a tribute to the fallen. He then contacted Hart Gallery in Chattanooga, offering to donate art to the families of the fallen service members. This gesture turned into a full-scale art event that will run Sept. 24 through Oct. 8 at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium.

More than 30 pieces of art—sculptures, paintings and mixed media—will be on display and for sale during the event. All proceeds from the auction will benefit local veterans and first responder support groups.

Byrd5

Frances Byrd “Chattanooga 5”

.

Why is it important for artists to show support for our military and veterans?
FB: It is important for everyone to support our military and veterans. They put themselves in harm’s way to defend our country and our freedoms. Often, they come home to a hostile and misunderstanding civilian community. There is entirely too much art out there portraying our soldiers as monsters or opportunists. It is crucial for those of us who support and appreciate our military to step up and create art that is positive and patriotic. In the wake of incidents like the July 16th terror attack in Chattanooga, it is imperative that we find ways to show support for the individuals and communities affected and remind the survivors of the reasons our military makes those sacrifices.

How did you come to be involved with the show?
FB: A fellow artist on Facebook who is familiar with my work organizing libertarian and conservative artists and events contacted me with his idea. He wanted to ask our artist networks across the country to donate something to send to the families or the recruiting centers where the attacks took place. Once he found a gallery to host the show, it was just a matter of asking for the art and organizing the event. If you are interested in learning more, or attending the event, you can get info on Hart Gallery’s Facebook Page and a local paper’s pages.

Liberatchik: Frances Byrd
Liberatchik: Frances Byrd

What is Liberatchik?

FB: About six years ago I partnered with Christopher Cook from Western Free Press to create Liberatchik.com. Our initial concept was to start an art movement that would disrupt the status quo in the arts and unseat the elitist progressive power structure controlling the culture. Over time, our concept of providing an online gallery, blog, and networking forum for pro-American artists has blossomed into an organized group from all across America who are beginning to show their art collectively. Liberatchik is now home to over 30 artists and writers who showcase their work in an online gallery format and maintain several avenues for discussions regarding culture and society; both as a group and as individual artists. Our artists showcase their work at Liberatchik.com in order to promote America, limited government, and patriotism through a wide variety of mediums and styles. We are currently working on a group show for early 2016.

If someone is concerned about the state of the culture, what should they do?
FB: Get involved. If you’re an artist, make conceptual art. Inspire people to learn more, educate them about the things that concern you, and discuss the work with them. Start at the community level. It is difficult, but be patient. It takes time, though there is far more interest and support than there was 12 years ago when I decided to focus on political and conceptual art promoting America and Constitutional principles.
Find networks for interacting with like-minded artists. Liberatchik is a great place for libertarian and conservative artists, but there are other groups as well. If your focus is on purely technical work or a return to classicism in the arts, there are groups for that focus also.
If you’re not an artist, become a patron. That means finding artists you agree with ideologically and buying their work. Every sale, however small, makes a difference. Share work by artists and groups you support. We can’t work in a vacuum, and it is difficult to balance creating art with promoting art.
Finally, become part of the discussion. Follow artists and groups online and via social media. Interact with the artists. Express your concerns and give feedback. If you don’t take an active role in the culture, like the left has done for generations, you won’t get the culture you want. It’s simple economics. Use your money and support to invest in work that appeals to you, get it in front of as many people as possible, and take the time to go to events in your area and interact with the artists directly. Become an active participant in our struggle to #TakeBackOurCulture.

 

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! In the fight to change the culture, it starts in the art. Please look around to see other posts about the renewal taking place in the visual arts.

COMMENTARY: The Doublethink Strategy of the Cultural Elitists

downing-street-tracey-emin-ap-543

Hack Conceptual Artist Tracey Emin kisses up to UK Prime Minister David Cameron

“What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you don’t understand the desired outcome, the actions make no sense.

One of the most controversial and least talented artists of the global art scene routinely receives the full force of establishment institutional support, including from a supposedly conservative government.

Tracey Emin is a notorious figure in England. She is an icon of the Conceptual Art movement that has done so much to destroy the credibility of elitist culture for anyone who has a life outside of the Postmodern cocoon.

Emin’s an artist who can’t draw; naturally the powers that be named her Professor of Drawing at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of the Arts.

Tracey-Emins-Ripped-Up-19-001

Tracey Emin seriously cannot draw

Emin’s an artist reputed to be radical; so of course of one her “artworks” ( a trite sentence fragment converted into a neon sign by some hired craftsmen) is featured prominently at No. 10 Downing Street, the headquarters of the Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron.

More-Passion-from-Tracey--008

Any passion at all would be nice

Emin’s an artist who is known for being crude and transgressive; so it is obvious why the British Consulate General New York just chose her to judge a portrait contest of Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen+Elizabeth+II+Tracey+Emin+Queen+Elizabeth+vPaVnjlswAfl

God save the Queen-we mean it, man

Looking over these developments, you might be puzzled how a practitioner of such dysfunctional ideas ever gained so much recognition. There’s a couple of unpleasant alternatives, each of which are equally credible.

First of all, it’s a sign of the last days for the pretense that there is anything really daring or challenging about today’s big money art world. The omnipresent counter culture is left without a legitimate culture to counter. The cutting edge is dull. The redundant repetitions of an avant-garde that is no longer advancing are playing out in a tiny echo chamber with a very expensive price of admission.

Presumptuous and privileged high society adopting someone like Emin, who made her mark by supposedly being so biting, reveals how safely toothless she really is.

But still, what’s in it for them, the new aristocracy of the well-connected? Entrenched interests like this never support anything that doesn’t work to their favor. They are beyond any need to look cool to the masses, and no one in their right mind takes the junk Emin offers as having any actual artistic merit.  There is another agenda at work here.

Once you realize the arrogant ruling class believes tearing down the traditions and standards of Western civilization will cement their grasp on unaccountable power, the promotion of Emin as the pinnacle of artistic achievement becomes understandable. Hyping soulless, unskilled art has a toxic, weakening effect on society as a whole. Conceptual art is a tool of oppression.

To further expand on this idea, I’m reposting an article I wrote for the Western Free Press in March 2015. It explains the Orwellian efforts behind the elevation of mindless attention seeking as an attempted substitute for values, achievements and principles-as well as the growing global movement to overthrow the tyranny of elitist collusion and consensus.

TRACEY EMIN, 1984, AND THE CULT OF CELEBRITY

“If human equality is to be ever averted—if the High, as we have called them, are to keep their places permanently—then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity.”

—George Orwell, 1984

 

The timing couldn’t have been better. Days after my last article on how the establishment art world is practicing the manipulations traditionally used by confidence game swindlers, British celebrity Tracey Emin’s piece My Bed made headlines for being auctioned off for millions. The fleecing of marks by the systematic Long Con of the corrupted culture industry rolls on unabated.

Tracey Emin is little known in America, outside of artsy circles. I get the impression it’s different in England, where she’s more of a tabloid figure, notoriously milking the old shock-the-bourgeoisie poses so dear to the moneyed culture elites. My Bed is simply a collection of Emin’s dirty linens and assorted refuse moved from her home into a museum, and proclaimed to be cutting edge art. This gesture was what first got her noticed as an art world player.

Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' To Be Auctioned At Christie's

The $4 Million Mattress

My Bed can be seen as emblematic of the non-art favored by pretentious metropolitans these days, an unskilled accumulation of dingy objects supposedly transmuted into art by the alchemy of dislocation. In a home the collection of soiled belongings would just be low grade squalor. Move them into a gallery or museum, and the theory is the new context should apparently spark some amazing mental gymnastics of Questioning and Challenging and Transgressing. It’s a pathetic substitute for artistic achievement, but it’s about all the current ersatz-intelligentsia can offer up.

How did an accumulator of debris earn the establishment accolades which lead to such windfalls? In all the breathless arts coverage she receives, it seems there’s more attention focused on Emin’s bad girl shtick instead of the actual results of her attempts at art. The emphasis is always on confabulating the “controversial” personal reputation and behavior with the true merits of her creativity, or the lack thereof.

Emin advanced her career with media-friendly drunken antics, and by cozying up to power players, rather than making worthwhile art. She made a name for herself by behaving as a kind of pandering clown for the glitterati, a predictable freak show for our would-be ruling class, feeding into the establishment’s most precious clichés. She demonstrates the artist as a decadent tool of personal and societal destruction. She flatters the elitists’ inflated sense of themselves as liberated forward thinkers, while at the same affirming for them that their sordid, debased natures is the final truth of the human condition.

The phenomena of a Tracey Emin is a codification of the worst traits in contemporary society: plutocratic influence hawking a type of nihilism, all tarted up with tawdry narcissism and brazen incompetence.

Watching interviews with Emin, I get the sense she must know on some level the falsity of her position. She displays a kind of rictus in her face, a deadness around her eyes. It’s an expression commonly seen on those with guilty consciences and lots to hide, like Mafia capos, or Lois Lerner. For an artist that likes to proclaim on the supposedly intimate and honest nature of her productions, it’s a jarring incongruity. For those who understand there’s more to honesty than a boastful list of confessions and mind numbing self-absorption, Emin’s rigidly guarded demeanor comes as no surprise.

Emin has now reached the pinnacle of what the elitist mindset offers to its supplicants. Famous for being famous, anything she does is infused with automatic significance based on sheer Name Brand Recognition, no real achievement required. The cult of celebrity cultivated by the establishment makes for a great distraction, especially when the selected elevated display no particular talent.

When quality and accomplishment are no longer factors in who receives institutional support, it becomes a scramble for notice. It’s a matter of who can most offend the disdained others, make the most noise, kiss the most rings and/or asses; a game for those most willing to do whatever it takes to win the lottery of who the self-proclaimed gate keepers wave through to join the privileged circle. Emin, with her toilet stall quality doodles and screeds, is now a Royal Academy Professor of Drawing and on her way to knighthood. This is a clear demonstration that those in charge have lost all perspective of what is meaningful in art and life.

The empty pursuit of attention has nothing to do with the power of creativity and its skillful expression. The highlighting of efforts by figures like Emin is indicative of the extreme poverty of thought and insight that characterizes our contemporary institutions.  The managerial technocrats that have seized control of our societies through administrative work in government, academia, media, and the arts have proven to be very, very bad at their jobs—but only if the assumption is their role is supposed to be providing quality service, support and facilities in the greater public interest. If a more base motivation is assumed, the actions of the so-called elites makes a lot more sense.

Author George Orwell was onto the techniques of these manipulative malefactors decades ago. After his experiences on the losing side of the Spanish Civil War, Orwell recognized the danger of the enemy within, greedy control freaks that yearn for domination. Their goals are not to enhance the greater good, but to accumulate unaccountable power for themselves.

Much of the energies of the establishment are focused on creating a double standard, holding others accountable for behavior they don’t practice themselves.  It’s manifested in ways like how anchor Brian Williams told repeated lies about his role in current events and expected he should still be accepted as a responsible journalist, or how serial sexual predators like Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy could be hailed as champions of women’s rights. Orwell wrote about these deliberate disconnects between actions and results in in his totalitarian how-to book 1984: “These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in DOUBLETHINK. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely.”

The scourge of postmodern relativism as a cultural force is no accident. It’s a top-down driven campaign,  the result of a cabal of well-connected interests trying to remove any kind of objective standards that could lend perspective and inflict consequences for the lies, manipulations, and abuses practiced as they try to maintain control over the rest of us. Anyone allowed to move into this privileged New Class has to adhere to these deceitful practices. As Orwell wrote, “To arrest progress and freeze history at a chosen moment…this time, by conscious strategy, the High would be able to maintain their position permanently….The new aristocracy was made up for the most part of bureaucrats, scientists, technicians, trade-union organizers, publicity experts, sociologists, teachers, journalists and professional politicians…”

The expectations of these elitists is that they’ve won the war by selecting only useful idiots or fellow travelers to promote as representative of our culture. Orwell noted, “The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon the living. A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate its successors…all the beliefs, habits, tastes, emotions, mental attitudes that characterize our time are really designed to sustain the mystique of the Party and prevent the true nature of present day society from being perceived.”

And so, to demonstrate abeyance to the new overlords, there comes strange Doublethink spectacles like Emin’s non-artwork My Bed selling for millions through a once-reputable auction house. The art world has been co-opted and weaponized, turned against fundamental truths in order to serve the false narrative of the usurpers’ authority and superiority.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

TRACEY EMIN IS AN ARTIST

These ideas are all of a piece. The promotion of postmodern and conceptual art by ruling class totalitarians is an effort to tell society, “2+2=5 because we said so, so sit down and shut up.” Well, we won’t be quiet anymore.

Ironically, the most significant historical legacy Emin leaves—besides being a prime representative of a minor and decadent era of art—may be a slur she used as she started her desperate scramble up the kleptocratic ladder.

In the 1990s Emin had been associating with an independent band of artists and writers called the Medway Poets, who she met through her boyfriend at the time, punk rock Renaissance man Billy Childish. She apparently lifted her whole autobiographical angle towards her art based on his influence, though without adapting aspects such as his plaintive humility and dogged, workmanlike manner.

Childish was working away at painting, wrestling with the medium, trying to make it show his own vision. As Emin sold out to the superficial stylings of conceptual art, she started to mock Billy’s more traditional approach. “Your paintings are stuck, you are stuck!” she sneered. “Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!”

When Billy shared this story with painter and writer Charles Thomson, Thomson recognized in it the pattern the modern cycle of art movements have followed. The forces of the establishment, seeing a new philosophy appearing, attempt to destroy the threat to their cultural monopoly with insults. Legendary art movements like Impressonism and Fauvism were named after the negative criticism they initially attracted.

Based on social climbing Emin’s preemptive abuse, these two principled and idealistic men identified Stuckism as a cultural force-a populist, open source art movement that undermines the pretentions and entitlements of the contemporary creative classes.

Of course, the institutions have made every attempt to stifle and suppress any progress of this radical rejection of their smug superiority, but nevertheless the movement quickly spread worldwide. With 236 Stuckist groups currently founded in 52 countries, the grassroots have gone global, reflecting the widespread hunger for an alternative to the empty trash served up by elitist cultural institutions.

Childish and Thomson quickly realized the often crude and provocative works of the Stuckists were just the opening salvo of a greater reformation of the culture they named Remodernism. The establishment squandered the opportunities the Modern age created by trying to twist the course of art to fit their ideology and agenda. Remodernism learns from the mistakes and victories of the past, building on traditions of individualistic integrity and vision.  It’s a game changer, completely challenging the priorities and processes of the contemporary art world. Remodernism acknowledges the soul. It seeks to make art about communion and connection again, instead of a signifier of snobbish social poses-the Bizzaro kind of phony erudition that crowned Tracey Emin, and those like her, the artists of their generation.

The story of the twenty-first century will be about the dismantling of centralized power. The longer the current elitists attempt to cling to their privileges by deceptions, manipulations and force, the harsher the ultimate corrections will end up being.

But an easy place to start undermining their pompous authority is by daring to state the obvious: moving dirty laundry into a museum doesn’t make it into art.

The reign of controlled insanity-officially condoned and practiced doublethink as the only game in town-is over.

8/12: Welcome Instapundit readers! Check out some of my other posts to see more about the renewal of the arts. -RB

COMMENTARY: A New Word For Pretentious

Parbunkells

Parbunkells: A word as rare and fragile as the special snowflake who wishes to co-opt it

I SUPPOSE RANTALLION WAS TOO COMMON A PARLANCE: Article on “Artist Posts 17th Century Word on Billboard, Asks That Nobody Else Use It”

Ah, parbunkells. Straight from the bowels of the Orwellian world of university style post-conceptual contextualized readings comes the latest production of hipster welfare.

I’ve written in the past on how conceptual art is a tool of oppression. It’s part of an elitist strategy of filtering and access control. The promotion of soulless art without skill is one of the techniques by which the establishment proclaims 2+2=5. Embracing their doublethink lies, proselytizing on behalf of their reality-denying agenda, becomes the price of admission, mandatory behavior for being subsidized by the cultural institutions they dominate.

As I observed in my piece on the ridiculous Tracey Emin, “The scourge of postmodern relativism as a cultural force is no accident. It’s a top-down driven campaign, the result of a cabal of well-connected interests trying to remove any kind of objective standards that could lend perspective and inflict consequences for the lies, manipulations, and abuses practiced as they try to maintain control over the rest of us. Anyone allowed to move into this privileged New Class has to adhere to these deceitful practices.”

So who are these people? Who are the supplicants who are eager to to join the club of the cosmopolitan elect, the new aristocracy of the well-connected?

In the establishment art world, climbing the ladder requires being able to produce empty gestures while simultaneously discoursing about interfacing with hierarchical normative significations, or some such blather. You’d think that would be easy, and you’d be right. The real trick is getting close enough to right asses to kiss to earn the magical bestowal of the dingle berries of favor.

You see, they’ve made the commercialized contemporary arts such a tiny insular world that opportunities are hard to come by, and are jealously guarded by the power brokers. They are rulers of their own little parched desert kingdoms of cultural irrelevance. Competition is fierce for the limited resources available inside the art bubble, and since quality is not a concern, it all comes down to nepotism and tribal signalling.

It’s why academic art programs have developed such an emphasis on jargon as opposed to developing hands-on technical ability. Artists are being trained to speak a dead end language of obfuscation, the polar opposite of the clarity of truly intelligent discourse. They presume such sophistry can take the place of tangible accomplishments. Talking all this crap is one of the ways the insiders recognize each other.  There’s no art spirit to be found in the maneuverings of these ambitious bureaucrats.

Which leads to the sad case of Julia Weist. She’s behaving as a loyal member of the Party is expected to, coming up with a pointless idea, with a veneer of technology for a hint of pertinence. She discovered an archaic word, “Parbunkells,” which refers to rope splicing. She’s put it on a website and hopes to enforce her exclusive rights to use this word, which will apparently to help her connect with people.

If you click on her website a light clicks on in her home. What a meaningful way to engage with humanity!

To help spread this earth shattering concept Julia hooked up with an institutional enabler called 14 x 48, which put the obscure word on a Brooklyn billboard without any further explanation. There, before a diverse crowd of thousands, it will doubtlessly be widely ignored and make no impact whatsoever. If someone gets curious enough to google it Julia might get 15 seconds of illumination. That’s some profound artifying right there.

 14 x 48 states their mission “repurposes vacant billboards as public art space in order…to enliven the vibrancy of our urban environment.” Can’t get much more vibrant than unknown 17th century sailor lingo. They are run by Fractured Atlas, which takes part in the rarefied system of grant monies. They state “Fractured Atlas is non-curatorial. That means we do not discriminate, nor do we judge your art.” Thank goodness for that! Guess it come down to who can fill out paperwork the best, or who knows someone on the committee.

If tracking hits to a website seems more like a marketing scheme that a work of art, well, welcome to the establishment contemporary art world.

The confusion of art with incoherent philosophy and  half-baked sociology is toxic to our culture. This whole corrupted tower of art babble is destined for destruction.

*Thanks to Sarah Hoyt for discovering this on the Internets, good grist for the mill*

ARTISTS: Jackson Pollock’s Arizona Connections

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Pollock: An artist of the West

January 28th 2015 would have been the 103rd birthday of artist Jackson Pollock. Pollock is considered one of the giants of the modern art world. One of his paintings is currently recognized as the third most expensive ever:  “No. 5, 1948” sold for $140 million in 2006. His signature drip style is instantly recognizable; he was the subject of an Academy Award winning biopic in 2000; his reputation as a surly and focused flinger of paint helped shaped the public’s conception of what an artist is like for decades.

But in many ways, Jackson Pollock represents where the art world went wrong, when the bitter fragmentation of Modernist thought gained visibility and momentum, further severing the appreciation of serious art from the general audience.

An awkward and immature individual without much conventional talent, Pollock did have passion and persistence. His original breakthrough paintings were blunt, primal depictions of archetypal imagery absorbed from Jungian therapy. But then Pollock was taken on by the radical critic Clement Greenberg. Greenberg projected his materialistic ideology onto Pollack’s intuitive art, and encouraged him to emphasize the formal aspects of his work, all the better to manifest Greenberg’s agenda.

An abrasive bully, Greenberg was the leading advocate of the banal reduction of painting to a mere substance on a surface, accompanied by scads of verbose dogma. It was under his influence Jackson arrived at the drip style that came to define and limit him at the same time.

The public scoffed at this abstract art, the elitists scoffed back, and the fractures in our society deepened. But in the middle of all this, there remains Pollock the man, the artist, who struggled and suffered, and took chances; for that he deserves respect. He was driven to create, and tried to find a way to transcend his limited skills.

The drip paintings were not random accidents; analysis shows how Pollock reworked his surfaces using brushes, adding glazes, making corrections, utilizing his judgment to enhance his creations. Even in his declining years Jackson continued to make art, moving away from the drip paintings, which he found to be an ultimately unrewarding stylistic dead end, and back towards the figurative, mythic work of his original explorations. Who knows what he would have created had he survived longer.

Pollock’s end in a drunken car crash is infamous, but less known are the stories of his origins. Everybody starts somewhere, and Arizona plays a significant role in Pollock’s early years.

In September of 1913, a young family set out in a wagon hired from a stable at the corner of Van Buren and Grand Avenue in downtown Phoenix. Roy Pollock was taking his wife Stella and his five sons to the new home he had bought for them, a 20-acre farm located about 6 miles east of the city, on the road to Tempe.

Paul Jackson Pollock, the youngest son, probably didn’t remember much of his life before this, in Cody, Wyoming; he wasn’t even 2 years old yet. But the future action painter and tragic art celebrity would spend a large part of his boyhood in the Valley of the Sun and other Arizona locations.

Roy Pollock’s farm on Sherman Street was simple; an adobe house, a barn, corral, and an outhouse. Roy planted alfalfa and many other vegetables, raised hogs, cows and chickens, and gained a reputation for producing some of the best crops and livestock in the Valley. His older sons helped out with the chores, but not Jackson. During these early years he was a sensitive child, who stayed close to the house and his mother; he was afraid of the wild desert landscape outside the borders of the irrigated farmland. Having tea parties and playing house with a little girl who lived nearby were among his favorite pursuits.

Despite his timid ways, Jackson did have his boyish adventures. He and the other kids would swim in the periodically flooded irrigation ditches. He’d hang out by the road waiting for the mailman’s car to go by; automobiles were a rarity then. He would ride into town with his father and see the Indians, Mexicans and Chinese in the marketplace, and visit Goldwater’s Department Store at the corner of First Street and Adams. Jackson idolized his oldest brother Charles, who was considered the artist of the family; Charles even received painting lessons from a neighbor.

In less happy events, Jackson managed to get his right index figure tip chopped off with an axe in a clumsy accident with another boy; the detached finger apparently got eaten by a rooster. Another time he was in a wagon wreck with his mother, when a bull charged and panicked their horse. Jackson had nightmares about the incident for the rest of his life.

Conditions were harsh in early Phoenix life. The family actually dragged their beds outside and slept for much of the year in their front yard, trying to deal with the intense heat. Stella Pollock was unhappy with the rustic lifestyle, and Roy had a hard time making money even with his skillful farming. So in May 1917 the family auctioned off their farm and belongings and moved on to California, where their situation continued to deteriorate.

Before long Roy had returned to Arizona without his family, supporting them long distance by working as a surveyor. Stella restlessly moved the family from town to town in California, never able to find a comfortable situation for her and the boys. In 1923 she moved the family back to Arizona, staying for a while at the Carr Ranch north of Globe and Miami. Eleven-year-old Jackson was no longer the fearful kid he had been before; he spent much of his free time hiking and hunting along the Salt River.

In 1924 the Pollock family, still without the father, left Arizona again, but later Jackson would return to live here one more time. In 1927 he got a job alongside his father working for a surveying crew on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Jackson at 15 was the youngest of the crew; he tried to fit in by drinking heavily along with the other men, the first signs of the terrible alcoholism which devastated his life. When summer was over he returned to high school in California and never lived in the state again.

When Jackson Pollock was at the height of his career as an abstract expressionist, he was called a cowboy throwing lariats of paint. His technique was compared to Native American sand paintings and tribal art. It’s hard to estimate how much his formative years in Arizona influenced the artist he became.

Recently I became aware of another unexpected facet of Pollock’s personality. When a photographer visited Pollock’s 1950’s New York home, now preserved as a museum, she noticed the kitchen was stocked with high end cookware for the era. Further research revealed Jackson and his wife artist Lee Krasner liked to cook, to host dinner parties, and they left behind an array of recipes. In addition there was documentation of various health foods and beverages Jackson used to combat his alcoholism, unfortunately without success.

The photographer, Robyn Lea, ended up collecting her detective work and anecdotes into a new book, In The Kitchen With Jackson Pollock, which is well beyond my budget. But there’s something I find moving about these nuances of character this knowledge reveals. For a little awhile at least, even during the throes of celebrity and myth making, there were moments of domesticity. Pollock and Krasner knew the humble pleasure of creating a good meal, and sharing it with friends.

Jackson Pollock, Jack the Dripper, drunken art rebel of the midcentury, was also a foodie who enjoyed baking.

This simple activity humanizes him more than anything else I’ve learned about him.

JacksonPollockCollage

A Jackson Pollock recipe that kind of resembles his paintings

An earlier version of this article was previously featured in The Western Free Press.

ARTICLE: Tracey Emin, 1984, and the Cult of Celebrity

Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' To Be Auctioned At Christie's

Tracey Emin with her “art”

WESTERN FREE PRESS: My latest article on the corruption and manipulations at the heart of our cultural industry, and examination of the possible motivations. Supporting observations provided by George Orwell.

“Tracey Emin is little known in America, outside of artsy circles. I get the impression it’s different in England, where she’s more of a tabloid figure, notoriously milking the old shock-the-bourgeoisie poses so dear to the moneyed culture elites. My Bed is simply a collection of Emin’s dirty linens and assorted refuse moved from her home into a museum, and proclaimed to be cutting edge art. This gesture was what first got her noticed as an art world player.

“My Bed can be seen as emblematic of the non-art favored by pretentious metropolitans these days, an unskilled accumulation of dingy objects supposedly transmuted into art by the alchemy of dislocation. In a home the collection of soiled belongings would just be low grade squalor. Move them into a gallery or museum, and the theory is the new context should apparently spark some amazing mental gymnastics of Questioning and Challenging and Transgressing. It’s a pathetic substitute for artistic achievement, but it’s about all the current ersatz-intelligentsia can offer up…

“The phenomena of a Tracey Emin is a codification of the worst traits in contemporary society: plutocratic influence hawking a type of nihilism, all tarted up with tawdry narcissism and brazen incompetence.”

Clink on the link to read the whole thing.

ARTICLE – The Sting: The Long Con of the Establishment Art World

jeff_koons-cracked-egg_art-300x203

“If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.” So runs a common phrase used to poke gentle fun at perceived gullibility in others. The expression originates from the exploits of infamous con man George C. Parker, who in the early 20th century fraudulently sold many New York City landmarks, including the Brooklyn Bridge, multiple times. The targets of his confidence tricks were wealthy rubes: usually tourists or immigrants who thought they would be able to both cash in and achieve elevated social status by owning such prestigious properties.

It might seem incredible to us that anyone would fall for such blatant falsehoods, but con men like Parker understand human nature very well. Greed and vanity are powerful flaws in the human heart, which can be manipulated by the unscrupulous. The wild success of Parker’s audacious schemes have achieved legendary status, but because he had no rights to the property he was selling, he ultimately finished his days in prison.  If he were operating today, Parker could have found an equally outrageous but completely legal way to fleece his marks: the contemporary art market.”

Read the full article here: The Sting: The Long Con of the Establishment Art World