Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hockney and English comprehension

Two Op-Eds today have taken my eye. And they provide what my old English teacher would have described as a 'perfect pre-prepared package. Come on chaps, get your pens out, it's time for an object lesson in English comprehension. Compare and Contrast'.

I offer you Peter Oborne in the Telegraph, and Martin Kettle in the Guardian. Not a couple that would normally be seen together, but both are writing about the new Royal Academy show of the recent Yorkshire landscapes. What is interesting is that neither could be described as art critics, and neither are regularly writing about art at all.

Martin Kettle describes himself,
Martin Kettle is an associate editor of the Guardian and writes on British, European and American politics, as well as the media, law and music
And Peter Oborne,
Peter Oborne is the Daily Telegraph's chief political commentator.
The art critics have already had their say in the previous few weeks, so now it is the turn of the think pieces. What is remarkable is that both these two writers come to a similar conclusion.
The central distinction in Conservative philosophy is between two different kinds of knowledge: abstract and concrete. Britain is moving back towards a world with solid, enduring values in which, for the first time in many years, public figures can make confident judgments about truth, beauty and morality. It is a world in which David Hockney OM has an honoured place as the greatest artist of his age.
And here is the other,
At the risk of pushing this argument too crudely and too far, and conscious also of my own Yorkshire pride, it seems to me that Hockney and his art express and address the kind of people and country that he and we wish we were. There is something religious in his work. And when Hockney takes a pop at Hirst, I, for one, will cheer, because he is taking a pop at the kind of country we have become, in which attitude is more important than morality, price trumps value, and in which to shock and make a name is privileged over doing something lovely or true... The modernists, like the conceptualists today, believed that the past had nothing to teach them and that the rules all had to change. They were utterly wrong. They offered 20th‑century answers to 19th‑century questions. Hockney seems to know it is time to move on. This show offers one artist's own 21st‑century answer to a quest for something beyond ourselves that is truly timeless.
Hand in you essay at the end of class.


john in cheshire said...

I think Mr Hockney and Mr Hirst epitomise the gulf between normal Englishness and socialist deceit. I have long admired Mr Hockney; he is a truly great artist and at 74 (I think) he is still innovative, enquiring and provocative. Mr Hirst, by contrast is all fur coat and no knickers. Typical socialist parvenu who will be an afterthought in the history of English Art.

Gawain Towler said...

Which I think is both author's point

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile of course the UK has morphed into the "culture" of me-only competitive individualism described and mid-wifed by Margaret Thatcher - there is no such thing as society, only individuals (their families) and THEIR immediate self-interest.

And of course any analysis of the state of modern "culture" that does not take into account that TV is easily the most powerful culturally formative influence is seriously deficient.

TV "culture" now rules the world. We are quite literally amusing ourselves to death.

And of course most of what is now called "conservative" in todays world is a form of individual and collective psychosis. Look at the deranged hooligans that are competing for the GOP presidential nomination in the USA - psychotics all the way down (and across the ocean to their UK "conservative" cheer squads)