About time to see what the fuss was about, so yesterday YBA’s Michael Landy and Tracey Emin, well known from their respective key works Break Down and My Bed, were featured in Kunst!Film!. The Eye is a series of 30 minute documentaries where you just get the artist and his or her work. Simple, effective and rather great. Watching these we got the ‘why’: both artists left us touched and thinking way beyond spectacle, fame and money.
My Kunst!Film! programming is like very slow browsing. From one interesting theme sprout new ones to explore. Two weeks ago I put The Great Contemporary Art Bubble Update on my wall and last week we got to the question Where Is Modern Art Now?
Prominent in both BBC documentaries were the YBA’s, the Young British Artists, who were at the centre of the Art Bubble that made them rock stars and the prices of their work skyrocket. According to Where Is Modern Art Now? presenter Guy Casely-Hayford’s they still hold the art world in their grip. On his expedition to discover new developments in the art world Casely-Hayford mainly discovered a lot of work in the style of artists from the past decennia and he noticed a tendency toward more old-fashioned art, where craft and realism played a major part in the work, like in Tom Price’s sculptures.
We saw artists move from the fringe, to being part of the the establishment (like sir Anthony Caro), to not being able to keep up (Caro again). We got to see artists that didn’t seem too affected by the Art Bubble’s wealth and fame and over the years steadily worked on an impressive body of work like Cornelia Parker and Whitney McVeigh.
Conceptual artist-masquerading-as-a-craftsman Grayson Perry said being conservative is probably one of the most shocking things to be in the art world. I wasn’t shocked by anything I saw, but really liked getting to know Perry’s and Parker’s work.
The YBA’s offer young artists a role model, but also dangle a carrot of wealth and fame, as can be seen in School of Saatchi, where young artists try to make it to the Saatchi stables, judged by a panel with amongst others the usual suspects Matthew Collings and Tracey Emin.
Once upon a time, because I love sharing my experiences with others, I decided to buy a beamer, clear some wall space and started showing my collection of art documentaries to friends on my now famous Kunst!Film! (Art!Movie!) nights. This has been going on now for over a year. Often we discuss what we’ve seen for a bit, we let it inspire us, but mostly we have a great time sharing our creative and art-loving lives and the odd bottle of wine.
Personal favorites so far:
- Art:21 – PBS series, now in it’s fifth season. Every episode has four portraits of contemporary artists loosely connected by a shared theme, lovingly made and no boring talking heads. Don’t know what to ask for Christmas? Look no further.
- The BBC series The Secret of Drawing with Andrew Graham-Dixon – OK, I’m biased, being a sucker for drawing, but do take a peek…
- The 1998 Channel 4 series This Is Modern Art by Matthew Collings. I just love the way he talks about art – no pseudo-intellectual bullshit, but straight-forward and often personal insights for anyone who’s interested in modern art. Beware: he might actually make you think.