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13-04-2006
  1
PopWillEatItself
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Kate Moss and the death of British art
This is what I thought was an interesting article.....

From Guardian.co.uk:

Marc Quinn's sculpture of the supermodel was unveiled this week, the latest in a series of portraits of her by some of Britain's leading artists. So what does it tell us about contemporary art? That it is mediocre and enthralled by celebrity, says Jonathan Jones

Friday April 14, 2006
The Guardian



A really bad artist can say something about the times in a way that often eludes genius. While the good artist gets lost in personal obsessions, the trite and sentimental hack has a way of showing us what we're all thinking. With his sculpture of Kate Moss, unveiled this week, Marc Quinn has done it again. And what he tells us is that we may as well put up our hands and confess that beneath our thin veil of modernism we remain an artistically conservative nation. British art has returned to its origins, we see on these pages. After all the sensations, after the brilliant careers and after the fire, we have arrived by some cyclical divine joke in 18th-century London, where portraiture is god and the leading artists of the day compete to depict Mary "Perdita" Robinson, Emma Hamilton - and Kate Moss.

A decade ago, when British art was interesting rather than merely famous, Gary Hume painted the first iconic portrait of Kate Moss in a Warholian mode (on the cover of this issue of G2) - well, it was nearly iconic for nearly 15 minutes. It was based on a magazine image, and her face became a disturbing void. Hume's painting remains the best that has been done of her, because it is not soppy about its model. On the contrary, her polished metal mask is a cruel mirror of the year it was painted - 1996, the Britannic pop eve of New Labour's victory.


A lot has happened since then. The fame of British art has increased as the reasons for defending it critically have, one by one, been made to look naive. Moss is an index of the changing relationship between our artists and celebrity. Several British artists are now nearly as famous as she is. She has gone looking for them, as intrigued by their stardom as they by hers. It began when she let it be known that she would love to pose for Lucian Freud - and our old master obliged. By portraying Moss nude, Freud and Sam Taylor-Wood appear to give us intimacy with celebrity - exactly the same illusion as a gossip magazine provides.

The decline is intellectual. Freud and Quinn have abandoned any critical distance from their subjects. They are no longer serious artists looking from their sombre studios at the spectacle of fame, at once fascinated and enraged by the banal delights of Vanity Fair. They are famous themselves, too involved in the banality to realise it is banal. Isn't it nice to be a celebrated artist and meet Moss? Has Freud ever painted such a vacuous work? Perhaps he has. His flat greed for her is so lacking in thought or real feeling it makes you doubt your own admiration for his earlier paintings.
But that is not fair. Freud shares British art's decline, as you realise when you look back at the great series of portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery that he painted nearly 15 years ago. In the early 1990s, British artists - including Freud - achieved the most creative relationship with popular culture that art has enjoyed anywhere since the Warhol 60s. In the last 10 years, this strand of popular British art has become a parody of itself as, instead of the avant-garde transforming the way we see, the way we see - our lumpen common sense - has manufactured an avant-garde in its image. So we flatter ourselves that we are being modern when we admire the profoundly conservative art of Quinn, a very cosy portraitist under the pseudo-heroic veneer - a sculptural blend of Leni Riefenstahl and Lord Snowdon.

Quinn's portrait of Moss is the kind of monstrosity that, if it were exhibited in Tate Britain as 150-year-old period puce, would give us a good laugh at the bad taste of the Victorian bourgeoisie before modernism came along to clear the cobwebs. But hang on - oh no! - this time we are the conservative public who mistake worthy content for worthwhile form. Quinn is an emotional guy, you see. He cared about Alison Lapper and he cares about Moss. His characterless artefact won't make any sense when her current notoriety is forgotten; a future art historian will have to dig out old newspapers to discover why this smooth, bland object was ever invested with meaning. Yet it seems at this moment that he is saying something about stuff that matters - that perhaps Moss is just a vulnerable person thrown out of shape by tabloid hate. Oh, it's so moving I want to cry. No, really, I want to cry. I used to think British art was going somewhere.

There's something so mediocre about the rage to portray such a slight figure. All the lamentable nothings - who have turned out to be the beneficiaries of a populism that had once promised so much - line up to meet Kate. Stella Vine and Sarah Morris are pathetic wannabes lingering outside the celebrity enclosure. Perhaps one day they, too, will be transfigured by fame's Neoplatonist logic into stars such as Taylor-Wood, whose Kate Moss floats beside her in the pantheon along with her videos of David Beckham, Robert Downey Jr and Ray Winstone. How many footnotes will the future art historian need to explain that lot? It will be like looking at a painting by Gainsborough and having to find out what was so special about Henry, Third Duke of Buccleuch ("known as a man of literary tastes").
Few of us bother. In the end, all the bewhigged Hanoverian celebrities look alike. Yet it is gross flattery to compare any of the artists on these pages with Gainsborough, Reynolds and Romney. Even in society portraiture, this is no golden age.

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13-04-2006
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PopWillEatItself
 
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And this is how the case was reported a day before
From the same source:

Meet Kate Moss - contorted

Charlotte Higgins
Wednesday April 12, 2006


Marc Quinn's last sculpture transformed Alison Lapper - a woman lacking arms and fully developed legs - into a dramatic, powerful figure for Trafalgar Square. His new work, Sphinx, takes a woman of unearthly beauty and transforms her into a contorted figure with her ankles uncomfortably wrapped round her ears.

The work is Quinn's much anticipated sculpture of Kate Moss, seen here for the first time before going on view in the Netherlands this month.

"The two sculptures are really about the same thing: why we do, or do not, find a person beautiful," he said.


And no, Moss is not working up to an alternative career in extreme yoga. Though the body depicted is Moss's, and the hands and feet are life casts, another model was used to create the position. "I found a person who could do the yoga pose," said Quinn, "and we made a lot of drawings, photographs and measurements. Then Kate came into the studio. I'd done some life casts of her in the past, and we made more measurements and photos. From all that we sculpted Kate's body in the pose; this is her body and her proportions."

Quinn was drawn to Moss because of her ambiguous place in our culture: a creature who is admired and observed obsessively, but about whom we have little real knowledge.

"She is a contemporary version of the Sphinx. A mystery. There must be something about her that has clicked with the collective unconscious to make her so ubiquitous, so spirit of the age," Quinn said. "When people look back at this time she'll be the archetypal image, just as Louise Brooks was in the 1920s. For me as an artist it's interesting to make something about the time I live in."

This is not a personal portrait of Moss; the work makes no attempt to convey her inner life. "It's a portrait of an image, and the way that image is sculpted and twisted by our collective desire," Quinn said. "She is a mirror of ourselves, a knotted Venus of our age."

Alison Lapper Pregnant was a conscious counterpoint to the Venus de Milo. The latter, though once complete, is now instantly recognisable by its missing limbs. The Trafalgar Square sculpture is complete in itself.

Sphinx, on the other hand, appears to have more limbs than it really does - like a version, Quinn suggested, of the multi-limbed Hindu deity, Shiva. He also pointed to the Hellenistic sculpture of Laocoön, the priest who, with his sons, was strangled by serpents for warning the Trojans about the Greeks' wooden horse. That statue, in the Vatican Museums, is a writhing mass of arms, legs, and thigh-thick snakes. He mentioned, too, the painting by Ingres in the National Gallery of Oedipus and the Sphinx, in which the mythical Greek figure confronts a half-woman, half-lion, and answers her riddle (what goes on four legs, three legs, two legs? - answer: man).

Moss - who has proved an irresistible model for artists including Lucian Freud - had no hesitation in being thus depicted. "She came round to the studio and looked at some drawings. She got it immediately and was really excited about it," he said.

The work is not carved from marble, like Alison Lapper Pregnant. It was cast in bronze and then painted white, creating a flat, blank surface. "Marble is too delicate, Quinn said. "I wanted a screen, something totally neutral."

If anything, said Quinn, Moss's brushes with the law had only made her image more potent. "When she had those troubles there was a collision between her real life and the image. The two didn't fit, and it seemed unacceptable to people.

"Paradoxically, though, it's made her bigger and stronger because it has humanised her. It's a bit like going back to ancient marble sculpture. One of the reasons people like fragmented marble sculpture is that there's a sense of loss that makes it more human.

"Kate's body is perfect, but her problems with the press and drugs and so forth is her lost limb; the one imperfection that makes her more beautiful."
The sculpture is part of a planned series of works of Moss in yogic poses, to be first shown as a group in New York.
Quinn's next project is no less striking. The walls of his east London studio are now hung with watercolour sketches of foetuses - over the course of the next year to be transformed into nine three-metre-tall pink marble statues of embryos at each month of gestation, to go on display, he hopes, in London. The man who famously cast his head in his own blood and froze it is still "into birth and life and death - all the usual stuff".

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14-04-2006
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Eat me, drink me
 
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Interesting. Thanks for posting. Wish you'd posted pics, too. : )

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15-04-2006
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PopWillEatItself
 
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There weren't any pics.

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15-04-2006
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windowshopping
 
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if i were kate moss, i would be mad. the sculptures werent flattering at all.

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15-04-2006
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V.I.P.
 
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^gotta say, that was the worst piece of art done about her I've seen. It looked like the creepy "Britney giving birth" sculpture posted in the Rumour has it-section...

I agree with that first article. I can't take art seriously if it becomes another celebrity machine...Pop Art is a different thing.

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15-04-2006
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polka polka polka . dot
 
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There are pictures here.


Last edited by polka_dot; 15-04-2006 at 12:55 AM.
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15-04-2006
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Thanks, polka_dot!

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16-04-2006
  9
PopWillEatItself
 
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Quinn's answer to Guardian's criticism
From Guardian.co.uk:

Our culture is a sea of floating images

Saturday April 15, 2006
The Guardian



A really bad art critic can sometimes say something about the unselfconsciousness of our culture that a really great one could not. With his latest article (Kate Moss and the death of British art, G2, April 14) Jonathan Jones has done it again.

He has written about my sculpture Sphinx without ever having seen the actual sculptural object. Well, he's seen the picture, so Jonathan Jones becomes a virtual art critic and unwittingly mimics precisely the manner in which iconic celebrity of Kate Moss's kind functions. An image gets detached from its object and the two get confused. Sphinx is a portrait of Kate Moss's image contorted by projected desire, not of Kate Moss the person.

Jonathan Jones writes that I am in thrall to celebrity and have lost my critical distance. Quite the contrary. It is the case, however, that this sculpture is about a world where celebrity has replaced divinity in the consumerist west, where Kate Moss, David Beckham etc are the current Pantheon. That is the profound point. That they personally may or may not be remembered is beside the point.


Jones is happy to praise Warhol, a pioneer in this area, but I think that were he transported to 1970s New York, he would be supporting the conservatism of Jasper Johns and condemning Warhol as being trivial and light.

In Jonathan Jones's trial-by-media reviewing style, he obviously believes everything happens instantly and that this sculpture was made after Kate Moss's recent tabloid crisis, whereas, in fact, I began this project in early 2005, well before all that. A real work of art takes time to make.
All art is about time and the time it is made in. Wittingly or unwittingly it reflects and refracts it. At the moment, culture is a sea of floating images, a hall of mirrors - which is why Jonathan Jones is so lost. Like Orson Welles in Touch of Evil, it is easy to shoot a hallucination and miss the real mark.

Marc Quinn
London

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17-04-2006
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^ Oh please. What crap Marc Quinn comes up with. I agree with the journalist in the critique of his work but where I dont agree is that British art is dying. What nonsense. No nation's art could die because there would be no more nation. Sure there are ebbs and falls but that is not in the quality of art produced, but in a more general question of societal taste. I dont think it is a good time for taste because one only has to walk about the BP British Portrait of The Year award to see some stupendous pieces of art. Do we know any of these established artists? No, because we live in an age where people prefer the deliberately confrontational nonentities to the quiet masterpieces. Why? Because we are slaves to the physical, we want that immediate gut reaction that comes with repulsion, we want to be moved instantly because heck, we could be watching MTV instead. But an eternal masterpiece that does not make. However, I was relieved to see Grayson Perry winning the Turner prize that year for his pottery because even though his work can be, let's say risque, it is incredibly well thought out and absolutely beautiful. Ming pottery for the 21st century.

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