Art as Space Junk

Pioneer F spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter. Artist: Rick Guidice

Space is a strange place to want to send contemporary art, though it doesn’t stop artists (and art collectors) wanting to do just that. Yet maybe what art in space does best is show up the tensions of the artworld’s attitude towards it being a visible, influential culture, with access to the most elite levels of economic, social and cultural power

My comment on the fashion for sending art into space, for ArtReview read here

Keep politics out of art

If you want to lose friends and alienate people in the art world, try telling them you support Britain leaving the EU. As someone on the left, I’ve always argued a left-wing case for leaving. It is, to say the least, an unfashionable position, usually met with anxious looks, sullen silence or overt hostility from one or other artist, curator or art bureaucrat.


That the art world should be against Brexit should come as little surprise. It’s striking, however, how far art has become involved in the burning political questions and controversies of the moment, to the extent that making art is often seen as nothing more than an extension of political activism

… my opinion piece for the Spectator read here

Art Market, meet Blockchain

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? And can cutting edge technology do the teaching? Christie’s seems to think so. Their Art + Tech Summit: Exploring Blockchain, which took place on Tuesday in London, was representative of the old auction house’s enthusiasm for the promise of blockchain technology, which the summit’s organisers were keen to present as a potentially revolutionary solution to the global art industry’s traditional aversion to making its markets transparent, trustworthy and accountable…

My report on ‘Exploring Blockchain’ at Christie’s, for artreview.com read here

Feeling safe? Defending hate speech for artists

My Friday 26 January comment for www.artreview.com

Only a few days after they had been published to support the women’s march day, artist Paul Chan’s publishing house Badlands Unlimited found that their anti-Trump protest posters had been pulled from Facebook and Instagram. The four posters aren’t exactly polite: ‘GOD HATES TRUMP’ reads one, along with ‘FAGS HATE TRUMP’, ‘TRUMP HATES GOD’, and, not forgetting everyone’s most-loathed art collector, ‘GOD HATES IVANKA’. Continue reading “Feeling safe? Defending hate speech for artists”

Public Vs.Private

My column for the January-February 2016 issue of ArtReview, now online. Read it here (requires free registration to artreview.com)

‘The purpose of the public museum is to ensure the long-term availability and display of art.’ With his first sentence, Chris Dercon, soon-to-be-former director of Tate Modern, had already lost the argument. Back in June last year, Dercon gave a speech as part of a symposium made up of international art-museum big-cheeses, at the private Louis Vuitton Foundation, to consider such burning questions as ‘What are the challenges facing public and private museum collections today?’, ‘Who makes art history now?’…

The End of Human Experience

My column for the summer issue of ArtReview, now online. Read it here

“What this seems to mean for contemporary artists is a peculiar approach to seeing humanity: either as just one more ‘thing’ among others – resulting in a fascination with other types of nonhuman entity out there – or as something already long dead and vanished, seen from some (virtual) future perspective in the form of its archaeological record. And you don’t have to look too far at the moment to see how artists and the artworld are lapping up this new zeitgeist…”

How not to make public art

My column on the latest sculpture commissions for Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth on ArtReview.com. Read it here

“The Fourth Plinth committee appear to imagine the public as a strange fusion of bored teenager and angry mob; restless, distracted, excited by bold shapes and colours and thoughtless political truisms about the state of the world.”

Are you experienced? The relentless rise of experience art

My column for the April issue of ArtReview.

“There’s a poster on the platform at Barbican underground station, my stop now when I head to ArtReview’s fancy new offices. The poster is for the Hayward Gallery’s current exhibition, Light Show, with an upbeat, punning quote from The Independent newspaper: ‘Hayward Gallery trips the light switch fantastic!’ On the show’s website, a YouTube clip previews the show’s glowing array of artworks that use artificial light, and a warning banner declares that ‘Light Show is extremely popular and tickets are selling out daily. You should expect to queue upon arrival and advance booking is strongly recommended.’”

Read on at ArtReview’s new website here

The end of the artworld

My column in the March issue of ArtReview.

“It’s an early January evening at London’s ICA. I’m here as part of a panel debating whether or not we’re witnessing ‘The End of the Artworld…?’ Alongside me are The Art Newspaper’s newshound editor-at large Georgina Adam, the avuncular Cork Street dealer James Mayor and youngster commercial gallerist Danielle Horn. Given the hysteria-inducing title, it’s inevitable that the discussion veers towards the downbeat….”

Read on at ArtReview’s new website here

Critical value and market value way out of whack? So what?

My column for the January-February issue of ArtReview. Read the whole issue for free here

The extreme mix of art and money that makes up a large part of the artworld has few defenders at the moment. After all, how can the values of art – which is supposed to be something good, exemplary or at least disruptive in a positive way – have got so entangled with the values of money, with the apparently evermore- venal culture of ostentatious luxury and financial chicanery that now seems to be the main driver of the international market for art? Continue reading “Critical value and market value way out of whack? So what?”