Popularity should be the last thing an artist thinks aboutby Wessie du Toit / October 21, 2013 / Leave a comment
Kazuo Shiraga, Chijusei Shizenhaku (1961), oil on canvas. Gutai artists sometimes applied paint to the canvas with their bodies.
I doubt it was only me wandering around Frieze Art Fair last week with Grayson Perry’s words ringing in my ears. In his first Reith lecture, titled “Democracy Has Bad Taste,” the Turner prize-winning potter delivered a frank, if unsurprising breakdown of the art world. This world, said Perry, was often a “closed circle of the artist, the dealer, the collector.” Closed, that is, from the public. Popularity is very nice, he suggested, but certainly not essential to an artist’s success.
Many disgruntled protectors of artistic integrity, who eye Perry with a suspicion reserved for double agents, have channeled his remarks to reassert that contemporary art has been captured by a clique of trendy sophisticates, bent on stamping-out any traditional notions of beauty or aesthetic reward. Talent and skill, they protest, has been relegated beneath the latest irony.