Much Contemporary Art is a Sham Says Famous British Critic

Julian Spalding, not a fan of Damien Hirst<br>Photo via: The Daily Mail

Julian Spalding, not a fan of Damien Hirst
Photo via: The Daily Mail

The controversial art critic and former museum director Julian Spalding will give a lecture at Kings Place in London today, entitled The Purpose of the Arts Today, the Observer reports. And, if we are to follow the thesis delineated in his book Con Art: Why you should sell your Damien Hirst while you can (2012), few contemporary artists will be praised.

According to the Observer, during the lecture, Spalding will engage in a merciless critique of contemporary art that “rejoices in being incomprehensible to all but a few insiders,” and of works that “appeal to a self-congratulatory in-group.”

Spalding—who was director of Museums Sheffield, Glasgow Museums, and Manchester’s City Art Gallery, before retiring in 1999 to focus on lecturing and writing—will also criticize the use of public money to fund projects he deems “rarefied delights, shams, glittering ornaments of an amusement-arcade culture.” The Observer cites Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Jeff Koons as artists with whom Spalding seem to take issue. (Hirst “kindly” reciprocated Spalding’s feelings in 2012, banning him from attending his Tate retrospective, according to the Daily Mail).

But these three famous artists are not the only ones in Spalding’s “black list.” According to the Observer, Spalding found Yinka Shonibare’s £535,000 Fourth Plinth project (entitled Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle [2010]) a “crassly designed […] ocean one-liner floating an sea of public funding.”


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