The value of art school?

My column in April’s ArtReview magazine. Read the entire issue for free at

What’s the value of an art college education? And is it really worth getting into shitloads of debt for? That’s the question that continues to grind away in the world of UK higher education, as students this year begin to face the new, austerity-era regime of £9,000-a-year tuition fees for an undergraduate degree, cooked up by our pantomime-horse liberal-conservative coalition government. Want to go to art college? Well, you could be looking forward to more than £40,000 of debt. Continue reading “The value of art school?”

Art, politics and branding

It may be cold in Europe at the moment, but in the fraught relationship between art and the political world, things only seem to be getting hotter, with controversies breaking out all over the place. A characteristic of recent upsets is the way that artists’ freedom of expression comes into conflict with public and private interests, especially when this freedom shifts from ‘artistic’ into ‘political’ expression. Continue reading “Art, politics and branding”

British Art Show 7: in the Days of the Comet

My critique of British Art Show 7 out now in the new September issue of ArtReview magazine. Sign in and read it at

If there is an emblematic work in British Art Show 7, it’s the one that critics thought had the most tenuous relationship to the exhibition’s supposedly ‘national’ remit – Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010). While Marclay is neither British enough nor based in Britain enough for some, the inclusion of The Clock is an inspired move on the part of cocurators Lisa Le Feuvre and Tom Morton, for it manages to encapsulate one of the most troublesome and intriguing thematics running through BAS7, one which never quite gets fully exposed or explained, even though the curators continuously point to it in their catalogue essays and notes. Arcing through the show is the nagging sense of a disarticulated, mysterious and enigmatic relationship to time – or to be precise, to the notion of history, and its relation to, and meaning for, the present…

The Art of Taking Offence

Just as I’m trying to wind down from the year’s art controversies, along comes another art-and-Jesus blowup.

Crucifixes in art have not had a good time of late: in the US , there was the December debacle surrounding the Smithsonian’s panicky decision to pull a clip of David Wojnarowicz’s 1987 video A Fire in My Belly from the National Portrait Gallery’s gay and lesbian show, Hide/Seek, under pressure from Christian campaign groups and rightwing congressmen. Wojnarowicz’s film includes sequences in which ants are seen crawling over a effigy of the crucified Christ. And on the other side of the Atlantic, at the Collection Lambert, in Avignon, Catholic protesters vandalised Andres Serrano’s 1987 photograph Immersion (Piss Christ), depicting another crucified Christ glowing and floating in a vivid orange void, reputedly consisting of Serrano’s own (clearly very rich) pee. Continue reading “The Art of Taking Offence”