From the Times of London — J.S.
Do you like adolescent entertainment? Do you have the mentality of a teenager? Do you find Cézanne a bit overrated? If the answer is yes, yes and yes, then I don’t know what to do with you. You are a childish philistine literalist. Get down to Bonhams (one of the world’s oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques) next Tuesday for their first-ever dedicated sale of “street art” – this is the experience for you.
“Street art” means graffiti, comics-style stuff, spray-paint art, flyposting – the art of groovy youth. The stars of the street-art sale will include Banksy, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Antony Micallef, Adam Neate, Faile, Paul Insect, Space Invader, Swoon, D*Face and Shepard Fairey.
“Street art” is adolescent. With the exception of Basquiat, the artists whose work is on sale at Bonhams next week are talented people in that area, but the area itself is of absolutely no interest unless you’ve got an arrested mentality. Its rise as something to take seriously says something about the weird state of art now. The core of art today is satire and gags and attention-getting stunts. As a society we all kind of know this but somehow we also accept that it’s a social faux pasever to mention it. Banksy being considered a “conceptual artist” is only a measure of how banal and feeble the “concepts” of contemporary art are, and an indication of art’s slide into all-out philistinism. To appear tuned-in we now have to pretend that a literal crack in the floor at Tate Modern means global unease (the latest commission by Tate Modern in its annual Unilever series), that a lot of real people standing on a marble plinth means “humanity” (Anthony Gormley’s proposal for a new work on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square) and that Marc Quinn’s new sculptures at White Cube of foetuses are “influenced by Michelangelo”.
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