The Guardian‘s exploration of the Thatcher years alights on the arts. Here are some excerpts from last Sunday’s piece related to painting and sculpture (all bullet points are quotes from the newspaper story):
Maggi Hambling, Artist
- Although I feel no aggression towards her nowadays, I certainly used to. She attempted to turn all fine art schools into commercial businesses, thereby revealing a philistine lack of imagination.She publicly responded very badly to her portrait at the National Portrait Gallery and ordered the eyes “which squint” and her surroundings “too masculine” to be repainted.
Adrian Searle, Guardian Art Critic
- The art world 30 years ago was a different place. There was none of the razzmatazz and glamour that surrounds art today: there were fewer magazines, fewer biennials and other big international shows, fewer galleries, fewer artists, fewer collectors and critics. Women and black and Asian artists had a hard time getting shown. Art just wasn’t seen as a career option. Contemporary art had almost no audience, and the media treated it with hostility and derision. People travelled less, there was no internet, and we stitched together our articles with sticky tape and the typewriter. Europe was a well-kept secret, New York called the shots, and art from Asia, Africa, South America and eastern Europe was just a rumour.
Michael Craig-Martin, Artist
- For young artists and students leaving art school, the Thatcher years marked the end of indirect publicly funded support that had been provided, at best, by part-time art school teaching and, at worst, by living on the dole. Redundant light industrial buildings in the East End had provided generations of artists with inexpensive studio space. Suddenly these buildings became among the most desirable and expensive in London, as developers realised they could be redeveloped as “loft apartments”. Without these props, art students became by necessity more self-assertive in their efforts to survive, most notably in the summer of 1988, with Freeze, the student exhibition curated by Damien Hirst. For me, this event marked the beginning of the 90s.