Monday, August 28, 2006

The Stuckists

One of the side effects of artists openly and very publically criticizing others' artwork is that one sets him/herself up for a much harsher counter-critique than might otherwise fall when exhibiting one's own work. There's a bit of a "don't-throw-stones-if-you-live-in-a-glass-house" unspoken rule. Not that artists don't criticize others all the time, but it just makes sense to ensure you've got the goods to back up your controversial rhetoric. Take for example the Stuckists. I'd never heard of them, when I first read a blurb on Arts Joural, so I looked them up on Wikipedia:

Stuckism is an art movement that was founded in 1999 in Britain by Billy Childish and Charles Thomson to promote figurative painting in opposition to conceptual art. The Stuckists formed as an alternative to the Charles Saatchi-patronised Young British Artists (also known as Brit Art). The original group of thirteen artists has since expanded to over 120 groups around the world. Childish left the group in 2001.

They have staged many shows, but have gained more attention for outspoken media comments and demonstrations, particularly outside Tate Britain against the Turner Prize, sometimes dressed in clown costume. After exhibiting mainly in small galleries in Shoreditch, London, they were given their first show in a major public museum in 2004, The Walker Art Gallery as part of the Liverpool Biennial.

Other campaigns mounted by the group include official avenues, such as standing for parliament, reporting Saatchi to the Office of Fair Trading to complain about his power in the art world, and applying under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for Tate Gallery trustee minutes, which started a media scandal about the purchase of Chris Ofili's work, The Upper Room (which led to an official rebuke of the Tate by the Charity Commission).
Tending to favor the underdog struggling to change the system in any fight, my first inclination upon reading about the Stuckists was to consider their movement and their artwork with an open mind. That is, until I read the statement in their manifesto that clarified my doing so would represent a willingness on my part not likely to be met in kind: From Wikipedia: "The most contentious statement in their manifesto is: 'Artists who don't paint aren't artists'". Such statements constitute what I can only describe as arguing for one's own irrelevance.

But, as they say, live by the sword, die by the sword. The Arts Journal blurb links to an article in The Guardian (which has been giving the movement a good deal of
attention lately) that invites its readers to browse an online gallery of Stuckist works and decide if they're "art."

I don't wish to pile on too much. I don't have enough information to have any grudge against the Stuckists, and for all I know the work they champion might be not only very good but important (a cursory glance suggests otherwise, but I'm not weighing in with any final sweeping generalizations at this point). I am turned off by the their anti-conceptual stance, not to mention the inanity of their statement about painting, but I'm more than a bit interested in the democratization their movement represents. Other than having one of its two founding members leave (read an interview here where Childish explains his departure [and he's only one of 6 original members, out of 13, to have left or stopped exhibiting with the group), the organization has grown considerably (143 groups in 35 countries), suggesting it's meeting a need. Then again, that need might simply be to feed their collective egos. With exhibition with titles like "The Triumph of Stuckism," they do seem to be trying awfully hard to talk themselves into their own superiority, or they're totally deluded. Which might be unfair of me, I realize, so I'll stop here and ask 1) have you heard of the Stuckists and 2) what's your opinion of their work, their movement, their manifesto?

UPDATE: Charles Thomson,
Co-founder of the Stuckists wrote in to note, among other things, how I most unimpressively misread their manifesto's line about painting:

I love the way that people get so worked up about the statement "Artists who don't paint aren't artists", which is a nonsensical logical contradiction that could have come straight out of Alice in Wonderland. However, if you choose to think we wrote "Only people who paint can be called artists", that's entirely up to you, and it's OK with me.
I still have some problems with the modus operandi of the group, but want to thanks Charles for taking the time to respond (and with such grace). You can read the rest of Charles' response in the comments.

53 Comments:

Anonymous twhid said...

The link from 'online gallery' is really some 'stuckist' work?

It's horrible. Some of the worst painting I've seen in a long time.

I've never heard of them before. It looks to be for good reason. If that's their best work, combined with their inane manifesto, they look like a bunch of ignorant no-talents.

8/28/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous George said...

I was aware of this group. The Stuckist idea has disintegrated into a catchall for a lot on fairly poor works.

The exception is Billy Childish, whose work is pretty good.

8/28/2006 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger James Wolanin said...

Never heard of them... beware of anyone who has a manifesto!

8/28/2006 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Bnon said...

I'd heard of Childish (if coming across him of the Web counts). At best his work struck me as oddly compelling but very bad. I actually kind of like the Stuckists' obnoxious anti-esablishment stance, but the execution, ie, the manifesto, their individual statements, and artwork look like musicians are behind them, not painters. So on the basis of fifteen minutes, I'm ready to dismiss them. They seem like they are opportunists trying to capitalize on the YBAs, that's all.

8/28/2006 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous bnon said...

PS Quality aside, I think the group is a really interesting instance of the elitist-populist divide that has been the subject of many of the discussions here.

8/28/2006 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger onesock said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/28/2006 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger onesock said...

Even though the artists Kuspit supports in his new Artnet article (except for Odd Nerdrum, jeez) are superior to much of the Stuckist work IMO, I link the two movements? as coming from the same self-aggrandizing attitudes.
I have worked in frame shops, museums, small art publishers, avant garde galleries, etc, so I am aware of all the different art worlds that co exist. Being aware of these differences has been important to my development as an artist who does want to contribute to one particular art "world". It seems that the efforts of the Stuckist movement is to promote their own relevancy to another art world rather than operate within a certain niche.
I find the work of the Stuckists and many of those artists listed by Kuspit as conventional. But I try not to think hierarchically about this because I know most of us work within some sort of convention. And I also try not to disparage their efforts because I know what its like to feel irrelevant within the surrounding community. But I do think that the effort is unwise because by fighting for your own relevancy in this way you draw attention to and perhaps confirm the perception that you are indeed irrelevant.
The question I have for myself is: By sending out portfolios to galleries and such, am I not doing the same thing in a way?

8/28/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Anonymous J.T. Kirkland said...

I wanted to address Ed's opening remarks:

"One of the side effects of artists openly and very publically criticizing others' artwork is that one sets him/herself up for a much harsher counter-critique then might otherwise fall when exhibiting one's own work. There's a bit of a "don't-throw-stones-if-you-live-in-a-glass-house" unspoken rule. Not that artists don't criticize others all the time, but it just makes sense to ensure you've got the goods to back up your controversial rhetoric."

I'm a little concerned about this line of thought, Ed. Are you insinuating that in order to critique another artist's work, you must be a) an artist, and b) as good or better than the artist being critiqued? Or by "ensure you've got the goods," do you mean you can expand on and justify your opinion?

I ask this because the potential consequences of this position are worrisome. You would have to stop critiquing the US government, I'd have to stop critiquing some Major League baseball players, and almost all of us would have to stop bashing K-Fed. Ha! Or do you mean that this unwritten rule is unique to art?

You have a point that I will agree with... that is, if you critique someone else (for whatever), you better be able to take it when it's given back to you. But I think anyone can critique anything. There shouldn't be any entry criteria for doing so.

Admittedly, I might be making more of this than you intended.

8/28/2006 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

Manifestos are fun. Especially when they are absurd. Here's item #20 from the Stuckist Manifesto:

Stuckism embraces all that it denounces. We only denounce that which stops at the starting point — Stuckism starts at the stopping point!

It reminds me of that scene from Bananas where Woody Allen, posing as a Central American dictator, decress that people must wear their underwear outside their pants.

I propose : Painters that don't paint aren't painters!

8/28/2006 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

PS Please forgive typos. Still early here in L.A.

8/28/2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger onesock said...

David, I like Stuckism more now, thanks! And I love Bananas, I miss really good Woddy Allen.

8/28/2006 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I'm a little concerned about this line of thought, Ed. Are you insinuating that in order to critique another artist's work, you must be a) an artist, and b) as good or better than the artist being critiqued? Or by "ensure you've got the goods," do you mean you can expand on and justify your opinion?


a) not at all
b) only if you want to survive the counter-critique

In other words, human nature being what it is, if you blast someone else's work, you can expect them to hold a grudge and perhaps apply that to critiquing your work. It's not mature, perhaps, but it should most definitely be anticipated.

The Stuckists blast the YBAs and others continuously. To think that they should be immune from an extra-harsh critique of their own work because everything should be judged in a vaccuum is not realistic. That's all I'm saying.

8/28/2006 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Onesock, Woody gets a lifetime pass from me, in the sense that I'll go see anything he does. I really enjoyed the new film, especially what happens to his character at the end (I won't blow it for people who haven't seen it).

One of the things I love about him is that he's never bought into the H'wood blockbuster machine. He keeps his budgets low and makes exactly the kinds of movies he wants to. No pitching ideas to "creative" executives, no test screenings for sample audiences. He's a true artist. Some of the films are better than others, but all of them are better than 99% of what's out there.

8/28/2006 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous paul said...

Here's some more pics. Man, most of it looks like pretty weak work. I think maybe the Stuckism thing just struck a chord with semi-amateur traditional painters around the world who get frustrated with not being able to get in the "better" galleries. And those kind of people are always complaining about the Turner Prize and co., which those Stuckism guys campaign against. I can understand why it's popular.

8/28/2006 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger onesock said...

And its the same arguement/complaint made over and over again every generation.

David, I will check that new WA movie out!

8/28/2006 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

human nature being what it is, if you blast someone else's work, you can expect them to hold a grudge and perhaps apply that to critiquing your work.

Seems like that's exactly what they want. Nothing gets attention like a good fight.

it just makes sense to ensure you've got the goods to back up your controversial rhetoric

I disagree. If their work was stronger, it would invite serious (and perhaps harsh) critique. Their paintings being what they are, the backlash generated by their antics is perhaps the only hope they have of getting anyone to look at them at all.

8/28/2006 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous JL said...

Oh my god, I've long been aware of Thee Billy Childish and Stuckism. It's pretty funny, for the sort of absurdity that David points out, though the effect is ruined by some of the bitterness on Childish's part toward his ex, Tracey Emin. That makes it a little too small and real to enjoy completely. As painting, I don't think I've seen any that's good, though I'm not entirely sure that all of it's meant to be. Childish himself is great, but not so much as a painter as a guitar player. C'mon, surely some of you have heard Thee Headcoatees? He's had tons of other bands, but they were the best (and some of the stuff he's collaborated on with with former Headcoatee Holly Golightly is pretty good, too.) I'd recommend the compilation Sisters of Suave as a starting point. A couple of the best tracks, "My Boyfriend's Learning Karate" and a great cover of the Ramones' "Swallow My Pride" can be heard (in crappy real audio files) here. There's also their killer version of "Ca Plane Pour Moi" and good one of "Have Love, Will Travel" at this myspace page. The same site has the rather low key "Come Into My Life" instead of the superior rewrite, "Come Into My Mouth" that appears on Sisters of Suave, but you can't have everything. Punk rock ist nicht tot!

8/28/2006 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

Stuckism seems like it was a "why not" idea that was both reactionary to the current climate in the art world of 1999 and possibly difficulties in a personal relationship.

"On 28 January 1999, before a poetry reading, Thomson suggested to Childish in the latter's kitchen in Chatham that they join forces under the title 'Stuckism' which he had derived from Childish's poem quoting Emin's diatribe to her ex-boyfriend that he was "Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!" for his commitment to painting (and his style of music and poetry)." [origins]

I think the initial ideas were as valid as any other positions taken by artists today and ultimately only has validity if the work is any good. Once the group started expanding it seemed to fall apart as it attracted other artists, who felt marginalized and were looking to "join" something they might have felt would lend their work validity. I can’t take the whole thing seriously but I think it is a funny historical event.

8/28/2006 01:28:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

derived from Childish's poem quoting Emin's diatribe to her ex-boyfriend that he was "Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!"

Ha! Reminds me of the origins of "Impressionism" and "Fauvism". And of course "Led Zeppelin"! If you adopt someone's disparaging label for you as your banner, what more can anyone do to you?

8/28/2006 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Nicolai Grossman said...

I recently became aware of them when I saw a blog post about Wolf Howard's "Stuckist" photography. I put Stuckist in quotes because, as you've pointed out, there's the "artists who don't paint aren't artists" bit, which seems to mean that the whole notion of Stuckist photography by definition doesn't exist. Frankly, I can't get past it; it smacks of just another bunch of elitist tossers thinking they're better than everyone else, and I personally have no place for that.

While I admire their attempt to stick it to the stuffy bits of the art establishment, I can't help but think they've missed the mark:

"Painting is the medium of self-discovery"? No, painting is a medium of self-discovery, but certainly not the only one.

"Stuckism proposes a model of art which is holistic" ... a holistic approach to, uh, defining art exclusively as painting? This kind of rigidity reeks of claiming to want revolution, but really just wanting their regime in charge, rather than the simple absence of regime they allude to.

"The Stuckist is not a career artist but rather an amateur (amare, Latin, to love) who takes risks on the canvas rather than hiding behind ready-made objects (e.g. a dead sheep)." I see no reason that one can't love one's work, make it on one's own terms, take risks and all, and be a career artist. Nothing in the latter is necessarily mutually exclusive with the former.

But maybe as a photographer and therefore not a Real Artist, I'm out of my depth here. (Lest anyone think I'm just bitter about being called not-an-artist for my choice of medium, I truly don't care. I think anyone, including them, that wastes time worrying about that could find something better to do, like making more [non-?]art or rearranging a sock drawer.)

8/28/2006 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous J.T. Kirkland said...

Ed,

A couple of quick follow-ups:

1) What do you mean by "survive" the counter-critique?

2) I haven't read much about the Stuckists but do they believe they are immune to criticism? Surely anyone who makes art and puts on display in the public knows criticism is a part of the game and inevitable.

8/28/2006 02:12:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Anyone feel like we're missing out on the action here? Why don't we start our own movement! Right here on EW's blog. Edward, you'd be a member of course. It would be the first art movement started in the blogosphere (I think).

We need a manifesto full of outrageous statements, and of course a catchy name. Since blog entries are called posts, we could be the Post-Comment movement! No, that's too stupid. Plus, it should probably be an "-ism". Anybody have any ideas?

8/28/2006 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Nicolai Grossman said...

I suggest the mighty quing!

8/28/2006 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Gee David I have an idea how it would all turn out so we could call it...

ism-schism

8/28/2006 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

My response to stuckees:

Be careful what you wish for . . .

8/28/2006 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous michael said...

i was talking to some people about starting a little movement called mama. it never got off the ground but...

8/28/2006 04:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think David is the man to listen to, who is one of the few people I've read over the years who "gets" something of what we're talking about.

You can take it on any level you choose. The basic one is just that we're people who paint pictures (amongst other activities) and don't see why we shouldn't communicate some of our thoughts to the wider world. After all we live in a free society, right?

Some people have told me I shouldn't express my opinions, which to my mind is even more reason for doing so, if only to assert that we should be able to express opinions, regardless of whether people like them or not.

That's alright: people can criticise me if they want. If they're doing it just as a grudge, then it's their responsibility. I take responsibility for what I say. I don't criticise out of a grudge. I could have one against my ex-wife, Stella Vine, but I still say I think her work is good, because that's the truth. That's what I think.

It is unfair on Billy Childish to lay the blame at his door. Stuckism was my idea and I've always been driving it. He helped out for a couple of years, but his main interest was the manifestos, and he was always uncomfortable with the press stuff.

Tracey Emin has gained a huge amount from his work and this has never been recognised. I think he is remarkably restrained in the cirumstances. She takes a photo of herself with money called "I've got it all". Ten years before, he took a photo of himself with money called "I've got everything indeed". He writes a poem with a list of the names of his lovers; a few years later she does a tent with a list of names of people she's slept with. In the 1980s she criticised his work for its explicit confessionalism and wrote coy stories about Turkish baths. I could go on.

I love the way that people get so worked up about the statement "Artists who don't paint aren't artists", which is a nonsensical logical contradiction that could have come straight out of Alice in Wonderland. However, if you choose to think we wrote "Only people who paint can be called artists", that's entirely up to you, and it's OK with me.

Very few people seem to read the last point in the manifesto, "Stuckism embraces all that it denounces", which to my mind invalidates any notions of narrowness, censorship or dogmatism. But again, if people choose to ignore it, that's their choice and I'm not too fussed. They obviously have a need of their own to create a fiction of some fascist reactionary art group in order to express their own shadow. We like to help.

... for the gods shall surely grant it.

Charles Thomson
Co-founder, The Stuckists

www.stuckism.com

8/28/2006 04:30:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Hey Charles, it's really great to hear from you! Want to join our new movement? I think it's okay to be in more than one. We don't have a name or a manifesto yet, but we could probably benefit from your experience. Nicolai, George and Michael are, I think, on board (maybe Tim too, I can't tell), and have made some great suggestions. We haven't heard back from Edward yet, but how can he refuse? Also, it was nice of you to say people should listen to me, but hopefully nobody will make the mistake of actually doing so.

So, I went to lunch and thought about it, and have another screwy idea to toss into the ring here. How about "Post-ism". The tag line could be "art that comes after". I have no idea what that means, but it probably doesn't matter. Only problem I can think of is that we'd be called Post-ists, which is really hard to say, and sounds like someone w/ a speech impediment trying to say post-its.

8/28/2006 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

What do you mean by "survive" the counter-critique?

JT, thanks for keeping this line of questioning open--I may also be making too much of Edward's opening salvo, but it's worth thinking through. I write art criticism, and I do not feel that this is a conflict of interest or that I am "opening myself up". Criticism of work is not a game that has a winner and a loser, nor is it a war that one survives or not.

Rather, I feel that as a professional I need to have both a passion for the intellectual community I am a part of and a healthy amount of distance from my own work. I see my own critical thinking, speaking and writing as engagement, and I expect others to respond in kind. I am not a genius--I expect my work to have problems that I cannot see. And if I am open to criticism, than I can get much further than I ever could on my own.

Of course, not all criticism is valid. But what does invalid criticism do to me? Again, I am not some emotional superhero--it makes me mad and stuff--but all that is inside of me and it goes away when I stop giving it energy. Usually I am left with a stronger sense of what I am doing because I see that this knucklehead doesn't understand it, so even really bad, egotistical criticism, criticism with an agenda, is not damaging in any way.

I am not in this for the love--I am in it for the back and forth.

And it was disappointing to read that this is not the point. That it's unsavvy to engage in the back and forth. That misses the whole point to me.

8/28/2006 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger atomicelroy said...

so bad, the movement should be called the SUCKists.

I paint therefore I'm an artist... I just finished the garage last night, working on the bathroom today.

AE.
conceptual art humorist

8/28/2006 07:45:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Atomic Elroy, you're definitely in!

Good name suggestion (don't know if that was for the Stuckists or our new movement, but it's catchy.) Also, I see on your blog profile that you're from the same town as Jack Kerouac, which is a big plus.

8/28/2006 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

What do you mean by "survive" the counter-critique?

I mean to not have the sort of reaction to it that was described in the "Does Explanation Destroy Art" thread by Bnon:

words can totally kill an idea, just the same way they can make an idea. To hear your work reduced to something you hate can cause you drop the whole thing and start on something else

Critiques can be devastating if offered wtih enough venom (I used to know a hatchet-man political consultant...which is a nice way of saying professional "mindf*cker" who demonstrated again and again that you can unhinge even the most balanced person with violent and careful enough verbage). My note to the Stuckists is: be careful slamming or derailing others (and it does seem born out of jealousy...sorry Charles, but that's how it reads) unless you want the same consideration (or lack thereof) shown to you when the time comes to critique your work. Criticism doesn't have to be a blood sport, but, again, live by the sword, die by the sword...which, yes, is my way of saying the Stuckist critique is over the top, IMO.

By the way, Charles, thanks for clarifying the painters line in the manifesto...my bad for not thinking more about it. I'll update the post to acknowledge your explanation.

As much as I don't like work grouped by what it's not (e.g., anti-conceptual, etc.... and I do think taiking potshots at the Turner Prize is lame, and, really, is it your role to report Saatchi...how does that further your own work?), I do think the sheer numbers of the Stuckists is very impressive and, as I noted, you're obviously filling a need.

This, however:

They obviously have a need of their own to create a fiction of some fascist reactionary art group in order to express their own shadow.

is an argument you should really be having with the Guardian (I'm assuming I'm correct in reading the antecedent of "they" as refering to me because I misread the "painters" line, no?). I've held judgement on the overall quality of work represented by the movement and cited my sources for the general impression I have of your colleagues. I'm not serving any need, other than hopefully provoking discussion here, by offering those opinions.

As for a manifesto and movement name...in the words of the idiot in the White House: Bring 'em on!

I like Post-ism, but think perhaps Neo-Habitualism or something of that ilk (suggesting an irrational loop...yes, I'm still on my loop kick) has lots of potential fun in it too!

8/28/2006 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

There is a very active Stuckists group here IN LA that seems to have overlooked the absurd part of it. They send out incendiary email screeds that reduce eveything to the least interesting proponents and then declare it all 'decadent.' They seem to be humorless and vain, a very ugly combo.

They call for a new Renaissance. This is what I meant by be careful what you wish for. What makes them think they would not be included in such a pogrom were it to occur.

As for names for our new movement; how about the me-ists? or us-ists to keep it more collective.

8/28/2006 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger onesock said...

The Gollygeeists,
The awshucksists,
the geewilikerists,
the stubmytoeists,
the mytoesists,
the ichthyists,
the wristists,
the fistists,
the typethisists,
the sizzlemyshizelists,
the thatsalligotsists

8/28/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

sockists!

8/29/2006 12:10:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

how about the me-ists

Neo-mio!

Or, maybe the movement to end all movements. The Post-All Movement! I don't think it would take much to get the art world to go Post-All.

8/29/2006 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger onesock said...

omisoh I got it!
It came to me in a dream...

ready?


Youve all heard about the Formalists right?

Well make way for.. THE CASUALISTS!

You didnt get in that show or that commission? Its cool, stay Kaj!

Ya got snubbed by that writer in that review? Its cool, stay kaj!

see what I mean? Its the perfect attitude and the perfect movement to deal with all the craziness and downers of an art career. Casualism!

8/29/2006 02:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Atomicelroy, unfortunately an extremely cliched attempt there, apart from the line "conceptual art humorist" which I did think was very funny, although I have a feeling it wasn't meant to be.

David as ever is motoring, taking an instant opportunity to recruit new members. I think I'll have to decline on the grounds of excess work load. You might be interested in Remodernism, a cultural period to replace Postmodernism, so the Post-ists could be a Remodernist group. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remodernism

Charles Thomson
Co-founder, The Stuckists
www.stuckism.com

8/29/2006 03:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My last post was a bit delayed in transmission, as I lost the site. No Edward, I was not referring to you particularly. What I do is not just my painting. I also address cultural concerns and express myself in a variety of means, including through the mass media. I say what I mean. I don't have any problem with people wishing to criticise me if they choose to. I regard it as a compliment. If people think I am motivated by jealousy, they are welcome to think that. They have to live with their thoughts, not me. I live with my own motivations, and the important thing for me is that I know what they are.

Charles Thomson

8/29/2006 03:31:00 AM  
Blogger atomicelroy said...

ChuckyT,

oh It's meant to be funny... I find most art very funny. But shy away from movement except the bowel variety.
Hmmm... perhaps there is a correlation.
cheers!

atomicelroy
conceptual art humorist
http://www.atomicelroy.com
http://aetrinitypro.blogspot.com

8/29/2006 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous LA Stuckist Group said...

Tim wrote:

>> There is a very active Stuckists group here IN LA that seems to have overlooked the absurd part of it. They send out incendiary email screeds that reduce everything to the least interesting proponents and then declare it all 'decadent.' They seem to be humorless and vain, a very ugly combo. They call for a new Renaissance. This is what I meant by be careful what you wish for. What makes them think they would not be included in such a pogrom were it to occur. <<

The only accurate statement Tim makes is that the LA Stuckist Group is "very active", the rest is of course utter nonsense. Our public statements are far less "incendiary" than the postmodernist claptrap that insists "painting is dead", and we defy anyone to quote an article found on www.la-stuckism.com where we’ve accused anyone of being "decadent." As for our being "humorless and vain" - that really is a stretch. Only someone with a well developed sense of wit and irony would call themselves a "Stuckist". Yes, we unashamedly and without hesitation, call for a new Renaissance in art, because frankly the art world could hardly be worse off, poisoned as it is by the nihilism and anti-humanism of postmodernist thought.

8/30/2006 02:05:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Only someone with a well developed sense of wit and irony would call themselves a "Stuckist".

Well, the first time, perhaps, but after that isn't calling oneself a name someone else invented merely aping that originator?

8/30/2006 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

No one has insisted painting is dead since about 1970

At least Stuckist is accurate

8/30/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are calling yourself a name that someone else invented, Edward.

If people didn't call themselves a name that someone else had invented, then an art movement would be impossible. Do you apply the same criticism to Impressionists, Fauvists, Cubists, Dadaists (I think you get the drift).

Anyway I agreed to share it with them. "Aping" is very pejorative language. How about "complimenting" or "recognising the appropriateness of"?

Well, Tim, why did Channel 4 TV stage a debate on whether paintings was dead in 1997 (the one that Tracey Emin left somewhat prematurely, swearing at everybody)?

And why did Paul Myners, the Tate Chairman, tell me in 2004 that "Painting is the medium of yesterday"?

Charles Thomson
Stuckists

8/31/2006 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

If people didn't call themselves a name that someone else had invented, then an art movement would be impossible.

Come now Charles, surely you can do better than slight-of-hand steering-off-topic tangents.

Your colleague asserted that calling him/herself a stuckist demonstrated a "well developed sense of wit and irony." Are you now saying that each person out there who adopts the name has an equally well developed sense of wit and irony as the person who coined it?

Remind me who coined it? You or Billy?

8/31/2006 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Charles Thomson said...

What I'm actually saying is that there were a lot of people working in a particular way, often in isolation from the establishment around them, because they needed to be true to something inside them that demanded they paint pictures, instead of exhibiting animal corpses (which they had already seen in natural history museums and butchers' shops).

Working in isolation is very difficult, especially when everything around you pressures you not to do what you are doing. The establishment works through strength in numbers (of people and of noughts after a pound or dollar sign). Furthermore most artists of the painterly inclination are not political PR animals. They wouldn't know where to start.

So I said, let us have strength in numbers for our point of view, for a change and f**k the establishment (not sure if you can swear on these blogs). I led the way and offered a means for that to happen, initially for our group of 12 artists. I wasn't expecting people all round the world to get in touch and say that that was just what they were thinking and feeling and experiencing, and could they join us.

I talked to Billy and he said let them form their own Stuckist group, so they're all independent but allied. And it works. I don't give a flying fig whether they do it with a well developed sense of irony or well developed biceps for that matter. What I care about is something very pragmatic which is happening towards the goal of replacing Britart in this country and changing art worldwide.

As we like to muse, "Stuckism - it's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it."

I've come up with another one as well: "If Stuckism didn't exist, someone would have to invent it."

Tracey made the insult ("stuck") to Billy. Billy recorded it in a poem, which he recited to me on several occasions. I invented the "-ism". A very successful collaboration I think, and probably the thing for which Tracey will be remembered in a few decades times.

Toodle pip!

Charles
Stuckists

8/31/2006 01:50:00 PM  
Anonymous david said...

let them form their own Stuckist group, so they're all independent but allied

Better to be stuck apart than to be stuck together? Whatever!

(first known challenge by a member of the fledgling Casualist movement to the statements of another movement)

8/31/2006 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Susan Constanse said...

Cheers, Charles.

When I first approached Charles with the idea of distributing the Stuckist Manifesto at one of my solos, I never dreamed that the Stuckists would grow to include so many groups across so many countries. It has been my experience that while a significant number of artists privately agree with some of the points in the Stuckist Manifesto, none would willingly take a public stand.

The manifesto seems as filled with humor and wit to me now as it did when I first read it seven years ago. I would like to draw your attention to the eighteenth point of the Stuckist Manifesto:

The Stuckist is opposed to the sterility of the white wall gallery system and calls for exhibitions to be held in homes and musty museums, with access to sofas, tables, chairs and cups of tea. The surroundings in which art is experienced (rather than viewed) should not be artificial and vacuous.

Although I am not a particularly active Stuckist, I still find their passionate advocacy of accessibility appealing.
Just a few weeks ago, this forum was involved in a discussion decrying the current pluralism of the art scene. Is this the answer, to embrace an -ism, be it stuck or not?

Susan Constanse
Founder, Pittsburgh Stuckists
First International Stuckist

8/31/2006 07:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Cedric, the first and only FUCKOFFist replies:

Whatever, man.

Attacking Tracey Emin's art
in an opposition whitewall-contemporary VS lowtech-trad is irrelevant when her art often
involves a feminist agenda that supercedes her means. I mean, Tracey even use handcraft sewing (often executed in deliberately trashy manners) which is sort of reclaiming the pre-whitewall aesthetic of womanhood in itself.


I know of Billy Childish mostly from his music, which is usually top notch cool and is sadly too unheard off until someone trendy brings him under the spotlight like they did with Daniel Johnston.

I have no perticular problem with a group using an humoristic term to claim a position against the whitewall contemporary, but I'd like to remind that the reality of art is way more complex.

You will find shit indeed behind the whitewall, but you will also find artists who work very hard
and do wonderful stuff. Besides, you will also find there artists who do art that is pretty close to trad. Where do you put Marcel Dzama?

I like to laugh at Damien Hirst at times but I don't think of the YBA
as a generator of bad art. I do think the term was absurd and detrimental. How do you explain to your kids what YBA was about? And where are they now? OBF? (old british farts). But taking individually the art had a lot of character that was missing from what was happening elsewhere.
You can attack character with more character but I doubt the YBA
will be turned into crybabies easily.


Who's the guy who did the sexual stuff on greek vases that won the Turner? That was pretty cartoonish-trad in a sense.
Consider your movement served.


Cheers,

Cedric Caspesyan
centiment@hotmail.com

9/01/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Charles Thomson said...

Hi Susan!

Susan did it in true Stuckist style when there weren't any other Stuckist groups, by simply announcing she was having a Stuckist show of her work. She did kindly inform me, but I must admit it came as a surprise at the time.

I like a bit of opposition from the Casuists. Damien Hirst, when informed of the Stuckists and their opposition to his work, remarked that it sounded good for business.

9/01/2006 10:45:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Charles, it was only a very small bit of opposition, as you may have noticed. We pretty much stopped at the starting point. :)

9/02/2006 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Charles Thomson said...

Keep on going and you'll end up as a Stuckist. :}

9/02/2006 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Cat Taylor said...

To the comment about being wary of artist groups with a manifesto. That is an amusing statement when one considers that some very influential art movements have had a manifesto. For example, the Surrealists had one as did The Bridge and the Blue Rider. Without groups like that the art world may not have had a modern twist. As for the Stuckists, I can't say that I like them or support them, but I do know that several of them have did interviews here: http://www.myartspace.com/interviews/ Including Charles.

4/02/2008 04:39:00 PM  

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