[intro]Jonathan Jones Wades into a Silly Controversy[/intro]
Jonathan Jones is pretty miffed about getting dragged into defending the British Government’s art collection. Martin Gayford mentioned it recently on Bloomberg and the Telegraph have followed up with a bit of outrage about £500,000 in taxpayer’s money going to buy art for embassies and the like. Jones doesn’t really like it either but he won’t put up with the bashing:
It’s pretty obvious what justifies these choices: Britain is famous for art and – like it or not – for contemporary art. People come here to see Tate Modern. This is our image and it is a profitable one. The country is bursting with visitors this summer, all spending money to help us out of recession, many drawn by our high profile in modern culture. […]
Since when did politicians care about art? Since when did they have an opinion of it? What is all this pretentious posturing in Labour circles? I have visited the stores of the government art collection and it is true they are full of 18th-century portraits, 19th-century seascapes and even the odd early work by Lucian Freud. Now, I’m not saying that a work by David Batchelor does nothing for our image abroad – but maybe a Freud would do more? And, to be honest, what’s wrong with reminding people of our long history by showing older, Georgian and Victorian, works?
Why Labour is Bad for Modern Art (Jonathan Jones/Guardian)