Monday, 10 March 2014

kelly grovier reviews martin creed retrospective at the hayward

Some extracts from a review in the Times Literary Supplement of 7 March 2014 by Kelly Grovier of a Martin Creed retrospective at the Hayward Gallery (full article here - I don't think the whole TLS is routinely on the website, my good luck that this one was, after reading it in my paper copy today):

'Such is the cramped creative terrain that unfolds in these incongruously ample spaces – a small territory of hackneyed stunts that proves what many have long feared: an art world in which anything goes, goes nowhere.'
...
'One hundred years after Marcel Duchamp introduced the insolent readymade, the fatigued arguments that the art world was once prepared to entertain in order to embrace shabbily executed work such as Carl Andre’s notorious row of bricks no longer resonate credibly. Neither shocking nor new, Creed’s creations are at best banal and borrowed. Where the avant-garde of earlier generations endeavoured to push courageously at the edges of conventional vision, this is an artist who delights instead in demeaning, rather than challenging, his viewers’ imaginations.
'Creed doesn’t make art but fools.'
...
'How does work this puerile smuggle itself past the seasoned discernment of educated curators and critics into prominence, earning the platform of a retrospective at a major public gallery? Desperate for anti-elitist displays, the regulators of our intellectual capital see in artists like Creed an engine of cultural quantitative easing. But by incautiously attempting to increase the popular base of gallery attendance by giving inane work the status of exceptional achievement, they put the economy of the eye at serious risk. Such indiscrimination floods the market with over-inflated phoneys and inevitably leads to an ever-declining yield in artistic appreciation.'
...
'And then there’s the fatuous language that promoting such adolescent and derivative work requires. The promotional material for What’s the Point of It? insists that the featured artist “has pursued an extraordinary path by confounding the traditional categories of art” and created “surprising meditations on existence and the invisible structures that shape our lives”. Try repeating those words to yourself with conviction as you stare at a stack of chairs (“Work No. 998”) or gaze philosophically into the arid spines of a row of ever-smaller cacti (“Work No. 629”). Ask yourself which of life’s mysterious foundations has been laid bare by the column of black Xs Creed has carelessly painted onto the wall of Room Five – a work that is glossed in the show’s accompanying brochure with the infantilizing explanation that “Creed likes crosses ‘because they are neither horizontal nor vertical, and because they are like kisses’”. While it may be true that your five-year-old is neither tall enough nor possesses a steady enough hand to execute this particular work, it is difficult to believe she could not produce as eloquent a defence of its merits.'
...
'it seems increasingly unfair to conclude that Creed has lost his sense of direction. He clearly never had one. There is no evidence of creative development or evolution of style, no reason to think that any given work was pregnant with the implications of the next. That’s because each object is a one-off gag.'