Art versus design – the last laugh, and our gutless press


I pondered over the title of this post – Artistic Licence? Art for Art’s Sake? The Emperor’s New Clothes?

Any one of which suits, all of them typically something I’d read in The Sun or The Daily Mail. I don’t read either paper but I suspect on this occasion I would side with their point of view rather than my favoured ‘quality’ press….so I swatted up.

What depresses me is that my whole life I have felt intellectually inferior to peers because I have ultimately reached a point at which I have to concede, “I just don’t get it!”, where others do. For example, as I have said before, I like the Traviata as an opera. From stuff I’ve read in the past, opera goers would find this appalling….evidently some feel it’s the Now That’s What I Call music of the opera world. In contrast Tosca, lauded by so many, I sat through and found largely to be a load of dischordant warbling.

And now this.

I saw it on Have I Got News For You and instantly wanted to read up on it – Invisible: Art about the Unseen 1957 – 2012 at the Hayward Gallery.

Invisible art – yes.

Or as we like to say – taking the mick.

And though some have joked about handing over an invisible £8 entry fee, I would argue my fee to the death at the Hayward Gallery, where the event is being held.

I am fascinated by art but maybe the blunt Northerner within has finally reached the end of her own appreciative tether.

I am depressed by the lack of guts shown by the press. Even the afore mentioned Sun and Daily Mail only touch on slight disapproval.

From The Independent to The Telegraph to The Guardian, without exception everyone has taken the safe, cautious standpoint of merely describing what the Hayward’s obvious press release has stated…what the gallery aims to achieve, ‘amusing’ anecdotes related to one piece and the history of invisible art.

So on the basis of such a lack of outcry I assume once more that I don’t get it because my intellect is lacking.

It’s interesting, yes, that you can convince so many people of something that isn’t there, that there is something to ponder but isn’t that meditation in another world?

I have to bring this back to a time of recession – I find it quite vulgar (albeit it incredibly clever!) to charge people for something which isn’t there.

Visiting trade fairs where the focus, as a buyer, is, for me, design-led giftware, I am painfully aware of cost versus function versus creative versus fashion. As a long tail outfit I am also acutely aware of shelf life; how sustainable are some designs, how many have a life beyond this season’s flash in the pan wanna-have. I meet folk whose designs are literally achingly beautiful, the joy being the touch, the feel, the visual feast of colour and form and clever functionality. There’s wit, there’s appeal, there’s turning a mug which could be so bland into something you need to drink from. There are colours that make you want to give your whole house a make-over. OK it’s giftware, it’s not art I realise that, of course, but it’s real and it’s been through a design process not entirely removed from that of pure art. It’s probably been equally self indulgent at some point in that process but I’d rather spend my £8 on surprising little luxury with the added benefit of being able to see where my money has gone.

The exhibition starts on the 12th June, runs till the 5th August and stars works by Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Yves Klein and Tom Friedman, among others.


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