Do these two seemingly unrelated items signal an important shift? In the first, Jonathan Jones frets in the Guardian:
The problem for British art now is that an association – however mythic – between “modern art” and the age of easy credit has been formed in the popular imagination. British art’s success is so indelibly associated with the image of the boom, that it will now seem historical. Endless instant histories will montage Sam Taylor-Wood into colour spreads illustrating the lost age of bling.The rise of art fairs and middle class art consumerism, which actually has only happened in this decade, long after the Hirst generation broke the ice for British art, will now prove damaging. Money will drag art down with it, irrationally, because if galleries close, this will be seen as a mark of failure by those who were shallow enough to simply have respected art’s fashionable status.
Almost as if on cue, Georgina Adam points out in her FT column that Damien Hirst–he of the many gallery assistants who says he can’t paint his own spot paintings as well as the assistants to–has shifted to painting his own work. (He’s previously announced an ambition to paint like his hero, Francis Bacon.)
Damien Hirst is known for not making his art himself, but now he promises an exhibition of 25 new, all-his-own-work, paintings. Some will be aired in the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev, from April to September, as part of a giant retrospective. Then the paintings will move on to the Wallace Collection in London in October. There they will be shown in richly ornamental surroundings, among Sèvres porcelain and Boulle furniture rather than spiky contemporary art.
Hirst might be considered a leading indicator or a harbinger. Now that Hirst has become something much bigger than British Art, is Jones right? Will the whole thing be left behind?
Is It All Over for British Art? (Jonathan Jones/Guardian)
The Art Market: Middle East in the Frame (Financial Times)