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1 October 2012

The market in modern art is rotten to its core

Nicholas Serota

As they have for twelve years, Stuckists demonstrated outside Tate Britain against the waste of space that is the Turner Prize. I went to pay my respects to the doughty few this morning in the driving rain. Since I began researching conceptual art for a satirical crime novel, I have admired Stuckists for their perseverance in calling attention to the nakedness of the emperors who dominate the contemporary art establishment. Rightly, their prime target has been Top Emperor, Sir Nicholas Serota of the various Tate Museums and for many years dominator of the Turner Prize, who has spent huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on acquiring and exhibiting trash.

Their name was inspired by Tracey Emin, a woman of slight talent who became famous for exhibiting her filthy unmade bed and is now – shockingly – Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy. At the request of our Prime Minister, who was trying to show he was edgy, she installed a silly neon light in Number 10 Downing Street which recommends “MORE PASSION”.

Many years before she was a professor, Miss Emin once screamed at Billy Childish – a boyfriend who thought her work and that of most Young British Artists (Damien Hirst and company) was rubbish: "Your paintings are stuck, you are stuck! – Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!" He wrote a poem about it that inspired the figurative artist Charles Thomson to coin the term Stuckism and, with Childish, set up a movement defending spirituality and talent in art. One of their self-definitions is being anti-anti-art. It was Thomson who painted a memorable portrait of Serota and an alleged pair of Emin’s knickers called “Sir Nicholas Serota makes an Acquisitions Decision.”

The Stuckists exhibit the work of good artists who for years have been ignored and blanked by Serota and his acolytes. The next exhibition begins on Thursday evening at the Bermondsey Project, 44 Willow Walk, London SE1 5SK.

They deserve support from all who know that an art market that makes millionaires of people who can’t paint, draw or sculpt is rotten to its core.

Ruth Dudley Edwards


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