The Sensationalisation of Art and the Dialogue between Visual Experience and Language Mamduh Waheed
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for BA (Hons.) degree in Installation Art and Events. School of Design Technology Department of Architecture The University of Huddersfield January 27th 2004 word count: 9,125
I am greatly indebted to my tutor Jen Southern, for her help and support throughout the duration of my time at the University of Huddersfield, and especially in pointing me in the right directions to explore my concerns and interests. I hope I have been able to explore and articulate at least some of those in this dissertation. I am also deeply grateful for the Government of the Republic of Maldives, who provided me with a scholarship to study for a degree in BA (Hons.) Installation Art and Events at the University of Huddersfield from 2001-2004. It remains a risky endeavour. And last but not least, I am also deeply thankful for the help extended by my friend Ali Saeed (Topi) in the last three years, and for the conversations that helped to clarify some of the ideas dealt with in this dissertation.
Chapter 1 Histories of Art (Marcel Duchampâ€™s The Fountain, A Case Study)
Chapter 2 Art as a Dialogue between Visual Experience and Language
Chapter 3 Conclusions
This dissertation looks at the nature of how art gets sensationalised by the dynamics of the structures that surround and envelop it, and the effect of language on visual experience, in the form of written or spoken criticism, discussion and discourse, in informing and transforming this experience. I will be doing this by, first, establishing a context for the exploration of the theme of the ‘discrepancy between art and language,’ and second, by an analysis of the relationship between art and language with reference to my own experience of visual art and the Young British Art movement of the 1990s, with added focus on the artists Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin and their relationship to the art world, the art press, the wider media and the public (audience). In the first chapter, Histories of Art, I will be looking at the role of History of Art and The Art Gallery as institutions that define the parameters and mark out the limits and nature of artistic discourse. In this chapter I will be using Marcel Duchamp’s The Fountain (1917) as a primary reference, in showing how this work has transformed artistic discourse by questioning the limits of the institutions of Art History and the Art Gallery and how these two institutions themselves were being continually affected by the prevailing ideologies of Modernism and its historical precedents. The final part of this chapter looks at how the traditional guild system that controlled and regulated the production and distribution of art for most of history disintegrated, making way for the art dealer and the gallery, which are central elements of the contemporary art system. I feel this section illuminates the discussion on how the Young British Artists subverted the then art establishment (of the late 1980s and 1990s), which is the main topic of the second part of the second chapter. In the second Chapter, Art as a Dialogue between Visual Experience and Language, I will be exploring the main theme of the dissertation by describing my own visual and emotional experience and relationship to the Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944) by Francis Bacon, prior to and after exposure to linguistic discourse. I will also be extending my inquiry into the nature of this debate by looking at the Young British Art movement and the responses to it from the art establishment itself, the media and the public (audience). I have included the parts that deal with my experience of the Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion by Francis Bacon for the primary reason that I feel it illuminates the main theme discussed in the dissertation. It provides necessary background information on how I as an individual approach art, which is the broader context (of my cultural conditioning) within which the issues in the dissertation are discussed. Briefly, they have to do with the fact that I have spent most of my life outside the west, and that most of my experience of western art has been
through secondary sources such as print, TV, film and digital media. I also feel it will give some hints as to how I have tried to bridge the gap between my experience of art from a distance and the factual realities of western art and the structures within which it exists. In the concluding chapter, Conclusions, I will put forward the argument that visual experience (in the domain of the visual arts, primarily in the west) and the linguistic discourse that surround it and sometimes â€˜envelopâ€™ it are two distinct activities though closely intertwined in ways that feed-off and feed in to each other, and that it is a necessary process in the evolution of art if it is to be a coherent and meaningful social activity. Moreover, I will also be extending the argument to emphasize the significance of this process in the sensationalisation of art, which, within the context of this dissertation, is a first step in the process of whereby new art gets identified as art, and subsequently canonised within traditional and mainstream establishments. While I will be closely exploring the factors that contribute to how new forms of art are recognised and canonised through its surrounding structures, I will also delineate the multifarious roles of contemporary artists in all these. And the last section of Conclusions looks at the roles of contemporary artists, which I see as at par with the surrounding systems within which they work, in their capacity to instigate new paths of cultural discourse, and in effect, to change existing ways of looking at and defining art.
Histories of Art (Marcel Duchamp’s The Fountain, A Case Study)
“Art history has a place in the new system of art but it’s hardly ever used. If the new art doesn’t seem to be expressing urgent new meanings then art history can be called upon to explain why art exists at all. So in this sense art history is a kind of theology. It functions in relation to art as a kind of temporary back-up system. Because it’s got nothing to do with new meanings, but only dates and influences, it cannot itself get the sparks of meaning going and it’s art with vivid, immediate impact and meanings that society values now.” The quote reproduced here, from This is Modern Art, by Matthew Collings, one of the more popular writers on art in Britain today, very lucidly sums up my view of ‘history of art’ as a methodology, as an individual involved in the production of artworks as well as a member of (an) audience of art works. To illustrate this, I will study The Fountain by Marcel Duchamp; to examine the initial controversies it created and how in today’s art climate we can almost see it as the beginning of even the most contemporary forms of artistic practice. The initial controversies that surrounded The Fountain and the consequent acceptance of it by the art establishments of the Western world also clearly illustrates how shifting frames of reference in turn affect how we view and value art objects. In addition, it also gives an insight into how history helps to inform our present choices, and in turn how the present throws new light on history.
Marcel Duchamp, The Fountain, 1917
With close to a century’s hindsight, it is possible for us to see The Fountain as a single instance of the modernist attitude, which the critic Herbert Read characterized as “an abrupt break with all tradition… The aim of five centuries of European effort is openly abandoned.” However, when The Fountain was produced and submitted for display in the first exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists (of which Duchamp himself was a member of the board of directors and responsible for the selection of work for an exhibition), it triggered one of the most long-lasting controversies over the nature of art, and inspired vast public and academic curiosity. It can be argued that The Fountain, which is also seen as one of the precursors of the concept of ‘the readymade,’ highlighted two ways of seeing which, until then, had not been noticed as an observable fact. One way of seeing, as implied by the controversies, is the view of the artist as the autonomous individual, striving to give expression to his unique vision, unhindered by society. Generally termed as ‘formalist or idealist, object-based’ approaches, this outlook, when interpreting works of art, asks questions such as: What is the intention of the work? What does it express? How does it reflect its time? Does the work express it’s creators’ experiences and personality? (Only beginning from around 1950 were these notions systematically criticised by first, structuralist, and later poststructuralist theorists). The second view that The Fountain exposed can be broadly termed as ‘materialist, structure based approaches,’
and is more concerned with the meanings of art works and how that meaning was created. This view is also much closer to contemporary theories of art criticism; the French theorist Pierre Bourdieu’s model of ‘the field of cultural production’, for instance, in which ‘agent’s’ (i.e. individual’s), act within concrete social situations governed by a set of objective social relations. And these situations and contexts are explained with the concept of the ‘field.’ According to Bourdieu’s theoretical model, “any social formation is structured by way of a hierarchically organised series of fields (the economic field, the educational field, the political field, the cultural field, etc.), and each field is defined as a structured space with it’s own laws of functioning and it’s own relations of force independent of those of politics and the economy, except, obviously, in the cases of the economic and political fields. Each field is relatively autonomous but structurally homologous with the others. It’s structure, at any given moment, is determined by the relations between the positions agents occupy in the field. A field is a dynamic concept in that a change in agents’ positions necessarily entails a change in the field’s structure.” Immediately after The Fountain was rejected by the Society of Independent Artists, Duchamp published a text that gives a clue to the specialised nature of the audience he was addressing himself to: The Fountain is not immoral, that is absurd, no more than a bathtub is immoral. It is a fixture that you see everyday in plumbers’ show windows. Whether Mr. Mutt (R Mutt was the assumed name under which Duchamp submitted The Fountain to the exhibition) with his own hands made The Fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new ‘thought’ for that object. It can be surmised that Duchamp was not engaged in or interested in just producing another work within an existing field of production. Instead, we can see it as aimed at the cusp between two institutions, that of art history and the art gallery. The Fountain was produced by Duchamp when Modernism was already in progress. The two movements that are generally regarded as forerunners of modernism in the visual arts are Fauvism (1905) and Cubism (1907). Fauvism was interested in breaking away from the 19th century tradition of naturalism (which was primarily concerned with representing nature) by trying to find a new way of representing nature, ‘with the ultimate aim of finding a new nature itself.’ The painting Les Demoiselles (1907), by Pablo Picasso, which is seen as the beginning of Cubism, has been described as seeming to “attack systematically the aesthetic canons of the past” and as “effectively shattering the mirror of reality which painting was traditionally perceived to be.”
While Fauvism and Cubism were only the first stirrings of one of the most exciting and dynamic periods of western art, inspiring the most number of styles and movements within a given century, they were also indications of much broader intellectual, social and cultural changes. The intellectual stances of the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles Darwin, the discoveries of Albert Einstein and the nuclear atom, the ‘stream of consciousness’ philosophy of Henri Bergson, psychoanalysis, the invention of photography, the industrial revolution and increasing urbanisation that ultimately gave way to the modern metropolis, the World Wars in Europe and the end of colonialism, all form the backdrop against which modernism unfolded in the visual arts and literature in Europe and America. Some writers have even dated the modernist impulse to the 1789 French Revolution. Against this backdrop, we can see Marcel Duchamp’s work (whose primary concern at the time is perhaps epitomised in The Fountain) as one strand among many that sought to make sense of an increasingly chaotic world where old values were discarded and new ones not quite formed. It was a time with a yearning to embrace the new without quite able to let go of the past. The French critic Charles Baudelaire, writing in 1863, summed it up in these words: Modernity is the transient, the fleeting, the contingent; it is the one half of art, the other being the eternal and the immutable. The question The Fountain asks, then, becomes a conceptual one rather than one aimed at concrete, tangible fact, or an existing physical condition or reality. And it forces a shift in the frames of reference within which the question can be discussed if it is to be answered in any meaningful way. Western artistic tradition is generally seen as having its roots in Classical Greek and Roman civilisations. And until the 20th century, there were no major or concerted efforts to understand or situate western art in a broader cultural context. And while Modernism was to change all this, it was no “monolith. It produced no coherent aims or ideals. Its history cannot be told in a simple linear progression or even as a neat patchwork of connected groups or individuals. Instead it spread as a complex web across time and space, interweaving artists, groups, countries, ideas, events and philosophies.” From this perspective – Modernism as a process by which old values were questioned – it becomes possible to see Marcel Duchamp’s question as raised in The Fountain, as a question aimed at two ways of seeing art. These two ways of seeing art constituted contributions from two of the oldest western art institutions; that of ‘history of art’ and ‘the art gallery’.
While history(ies) of art is not appreciation of art in the sense that art criticism is (which is a much later development – and a category of knowledge – traced back to the 18th century), the first histories of art were written during the Italian Renaissance. As opposed to art criticism, history of art is “an exploration of the art of the past. The discipline of art history is not unitary in its methods. Its explorations can take a number of forms, such as an examination of the lives of artists, an assessment of the historical circumstances that gave rise to particular conditions in the art market, a psychoanalytic analysis of particular factors in an artist’s life, or the relationship between art and constructions of gender or sexuality in particular historical periods. The history of art is more correctly the history of visual culture, as both high and low forms of art are encompassed within the discipline.” And, since 1970, the ‘new art histories’ “developed forms of description, analysis, and evaluation rooted in, and inseparable from, recent social and political activism, while it also took up legacies inherited from scholarship and political activism from much earlier times in the twentieth, and nineteenth centuries”. One of the ‘foundation stones’ of art history, Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, is considered to be the first attempt to compile a history of art in the west, and subsequently the model for art history books until recently. Again, with the hindsight of centuries and the format of the art history book as an established format of cultural discourse, it is easy for us to see the ‘broader frame of reference’ within which Vasari discusses artists and their work. The writer James Elkins, in his book Stories of Art, gives an insight into the nature of some of the questions Vasari might have considered while establishing the chronological parameters for his book: When the Renaissance painter Giorgio Vasari sat down in his dark-panelled study to write the Lives of Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects – the book that eventually became a foundation stone of art history – he was not sure exactly where to begin. How did art get started? Who first made good art, and how did they know how to do it? Why did art get worse after the fall of Rome? (Why should art ever get worse once its good?) In effect, Vasari says, art started with God, because God made wild nature, the human form, and all the colours. It is not entirely clear how painting and sculpture got started, and Vasari makes some strange guesses. God gave people ‘a bright flesh colour,’ he says, and that could have inspired artists to find the same colours in the earth and use them to paint. Vasari acknowledges that his theory is not ‘absolutely certain’ and he wonders who might have made the first artworks. He knows from the Bible that the son of Nimrod made a statue just two hundred years after the flood, and so he surmises that people had been making sculptures from the earliest times. No prehistoric sculptures were known when Vasari was writing, and he had only a sketchy notion of the period between the Flood and ancient Rome. He recalls that the Greeks said the Ethiopians invented sculpture, and the Egyptians imitated the Ethiopians. But the
Bible mentions idolatrous sculptures made by the Chaldeans, and Vasari himself knew about Etruscan and other ancient sculptures that had been found in Italy itself. In the end he gives up and says that since ancient history is so poorly known, it is best to just say that God Himself, ‘if I may venture to say it,’ was the inventor of painting, sculpture, and architecture. As proof he cites the fact that ‘simple children, roughly brought up in the wilderness,’ have started to draw of their own accord, guided only by the ‘beautiful paintings and sculptures of Nature’. From this extract we can infer that when Giorgio Vasari was writing the first history of art in the west, he was doing so within the limitations of his knowledge which is perhaps itself a reflection of the limitations of the knowledge available at the time he was writing. And we still value it as an important and significant work, while also accepting its shortcomings. The passage also illustrates how art is seen through the lenses of prevailing ideas of the time. The second institution that is implicated by virtue of The Fountain’s question is the art gallery and its assumed authority of declaring objects and images (or experiences) works of art. This again is a concern that artists are continuing to express even today, its manifestations perhaps accelerated in recent years with the format of the installation becoming “one of the most characteristic art forms of the last third of the (twentieth) century”, and perhaps more specifically with site and time-specific art works, which give a whole new dimension to the duality of content and context. The current western art system has been said to have evolved over several centuries and through various processes leading to “the dissolution of the medieval guild system”. And the rise of the “messy, diffuse scenario that characterizes today’s art scene” has been attributed to this collapse (of the guild system). The guilds were institutions that monopolized the production of a specific form of art or craft. It was compulsory that anyone pursuing these callings be a member of the guild, with a mandatory apprenticeship, which culminated in being designated as a master, if they were successful in attaining the standards stipulated by the guild. The apprentices also had to pay a sum for the training, which was determined by the guild. “The duration of the training was also delineated and the condition of work regulated, with rules even governing the work process. Those who had completed their training but had not attained master status were employed by masters and classified as journeymen. Raw materials were either bought by a delegated purchaser or purchased under the supervision of overseers. Tools were subjected to the approval of quality testers and then distributed equally to all masters. Use of special tools was prohibited. Conspicuous self-promotion was banned. Output was limited. (And) how strictly were these rules
enforced? A ‘Statute of the White Tawyers’ that was issued in London in the year 1346 provides one example: ‘If any member disobeys these statutes and is convicted by his fellows, he is to be fined 2 shillings for the first time, 3 shillings and 4 pence the second, 6 shillings and 8 pence the third, and 10 shillings the fourth. For the fourth offence he shall be excluded from the trade.’” In addition to controlling and regulating production, guilds also protected their monopolised system by governing the sale and distribution of the products created by their members. Buyers and collectors had no alternative other than to purchase standardized goods at preset prices, and only items that passed guild inspection were permitted to enter the market, with prices that were set at a uniform sum. The guild system collapsed one by one, at different times in different locations. (“In Italy, this institution was terminated by a papal decree issued in the year 1539. In England it disappeared in the seventeenth century. In France it concluded with the Revolution in 1791. In Japan it met its demise in 1868. In India it dissolved after the British rule was established. German and Austrian versions were abolished in the nineteenth century. In China and in the Muslim Middle East it persisted until the early decades of the twentieth century. Each of these dates marks the dissolution of the medieval guild system.”) Art historians have observed that the demise of the institution in various countries coincided with the improvement of communications, the expansion of trade and the influx of foreign-made goods. And that the guilds, with their regimented control mechanisms and emphasis on stability and quality, were not equipped to cope with the diversification of products available for sale and expanding methods of production. The collapse of the guild system affected the nature of art making and its distribution and consumption in unparalleled ways. Once there was no monopoly on the production of art, those interested in the profession were no longer dependant upon the judgement of experts. And instead, it became a matter of self-declaration. And self-appointed artists were free to invent their own artistic standards, their own (technical) means of production and their own manners of expression and their own (commercial or not) strategies for the distribution of their work. However, some writers have also observed less favourable outcomes of the dissolution of the guild system; primarily, that the population of artists increases and competition becomes an unavoidable component of the profession, which can be easily observed in the workings of the more commercial galleries of today, the artists who work with them and their
buyers and collectors. The effect of the dissolution of the guild system on the consumption of art was that the aristocracy, the monarchy and the church ceased being the exclusive consumers of art. And the emergence of the middle class added a new sector to the art market in the form of a new art buying public. Perhaps the most profound consequence of the collapse of the guild system was on the artist herself. Artists were left with no choice but to participate in an open market, creating works of art that were not commissioned prior to their production. Nor were they guaranteed of an audience, producing work â€œknowing neither who would become the owner, nor the physical setting in which their work would be installed, nor the price it might fetch, nor even if it would ever be soldâ€Ś Delays between production and success often meant that artists died in obscurity and then earned post-mortem fame. A great chasm separated the most successful artists from the majority of their colleagues. Artists faced uncertain fates.â€? This is also the process by which the profession of the art dealer and the institution of the art gallery of today came into existence. The fact that there was no guild to regulate the buying and selling of art, and the fact that works of art that earned the admiration of influential people did not merely maintain their value but also increased in value, meant that buying and selling art provided opportunities for financial gain. In addition, collecting art also attracted those who used art as a status symbol to proclaim their wealth, social prestige and personal taste. Hence, the profession of the art dealer came into existence to service this commercial potential. And with it, the art gallery, to formalise this function, making commerce integral to the production of art.
Art as a Dialogue Between Visual Experience and Language
Language depends on the ‘binary oppositions’ that has been the subject matter of contemporary cultural theory on a much more degree than the plastic and visual arts and arts that do not rely on language (spoken, written) to sustain its production. The visual arts are surrounded by ‘writing.’ And perhaps for good reason, scientists seem to notice this more, as they ‘have’ to rely on words to communicate their work, to an extent that the producers of visual art do not have to. Recently I came across this passage in a book on ‘Science and the Contemporary Visual Arts,’ published as recently as the year 2000: It is surprising to discover how much writing surrounds the visual arts, as if, in a culture which places a high value on verbal expression, the visual arts constituency needs to prove its intellectual credentials. The Treachery of Images by the Belgian Surrealist painter Rene Magritte illustrates several things about the nature of images, and the translations and transitions between words and images. It has been variously described as “a demonstration that the relation of language to painting is an infinite relation (Michel Foucault/WJT Mitchell). The precision of Magritte’s forms, and the space between the pipe and the written statement, accents the gap separating them. Magritte shows everything that can be shown: written words, a visible object. But his real aim is to show that what cannot be pictured or made readable, the fissure in representation itself, the bands, layers, and fault-lines of discourse, the blank space between the text and the image.”
Rene Magritte, The Treachery of images, oil, 60 x 81 cm, 1928
And perhaps more revealing of the discrepancy between images and words, whether spoken or written, is this next quote, (also from the same source). Works of art have been interpreted, or ‘read,’ in increasingly different ways since art history became an established academic discipline in the nineteenth century. The different approaches to describing and interpreting art constitute the so-called methodologies of artistic analysis. Since every work of art is an expression of its culture (time and place)and its maker (the artist) and is also dependant on its medium (what itis made of), any single artistic product is immensely complex. The very proliferation of
methodologies is a reflection of the convergence of many levels of meaning in a single image. And while writers on art tend to approach works from the bias most congenial to themselves, readers should bear in mind that, by the very nature of imagery, no single approach can be definitive. Many different factors contribute to the creation of an image. Works of art, like dreams, are multiply determined. The question of the insufficiency of spoken and written language to convey the meanings of images (as works of art) raises several crucial questions for me, not least because of my own experience of trying to understand works of art across cultures, sometimes successfully, and often drastically in inaccurate ways, though this is difficult to tell until much later and always in hindsight only. I had grown up in the Republic of Maldives and it was not until I was eighteen when I first visited the United Kingdom, though I was familiar with a lot of western art by then, though only through secondary sources. I had come across Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for The Base of a Crucifixion in my late teens (though before arriving in the UK. And I did not see the original paintings before 2002). Although I had first seen prints of these images in my late teens, I ‘felt’ I
Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, 1944, Oil and pastel on hardboard, each panel 145x128 cm. The Tate Gallery, London
had known them all my life, in the sense that they resonated with my whole life experience up to that point. By the time I realised the lateness in my life of when I had actually seen the Three Studies, I had long been accustomed to using the image as a kind of reference point to all things dark, though I was also aware of a curious paradox that exists in my relationship to the images. Because, as often as I would use the Three Studies as a reference for things dark and sinister, it also became a metaphor for liberation and a release of anguish. And as I reflected on this more and more, it became apparent to me that this ambiguity and ambivalence were the very qualities that made the Three Studies have such a gripping hold on my imagination. (And I am also o f the opinion that these were the qualities that ensured the Three Studies such significance within twentieth century art.) And yet, I am also equally convinced that secondary knowledge, including textual and linguistic information about images and artworks, can transform the effect and perhaps even the meaning of a given work to a viewer; sometimes enhancing and deepening the effect of an art work, but also sometimes taking the mystery out of the whole process of building a meaningful relationship with artworks. The knowledge that I could not have seen the images prior to my late teens, despite feeling contrary to it, left me somewhat disappointed as well as (mildly) puzzled and confused. And it raised several vital questions for me. Some of these questions were: Is ‘art’ capable of value within a culture for which it was originally not intended? And if it so, what does it say about the ‘universally similar’ qualities about the human species? And perhaps more relevant to the present discussion, if the power of artworks lie in their capacity to evoke empathy and engage through ambiguity and ambivalence, would not linguistic interpretation, whether through criticism or discussion, only help to reduce this power (of art works)? The question acquires more seriousness when you consider quotes like: “(Britart) is supposed to be about art suddenly becoming accessible and fun for a great number of people. At the same time, it appears to have a lot of obscurity about it. I think the obscurity is often spurious – that is, laid on. On the other hand, I believe the accessibility is a bit dubious too. Britart is still art,and the whole point of any art is that it is not easily accessible. Its ‘difficulty’ is what makes it worthwhile.” And, “All art is part of a structure or a system of some kind. You can’t get much from it unless you acknowledge this, and unless you build up some familiarity with the structure. This requires a bit of effort: you have to look at a lot of art… Becoming familiar with art only requires thoughtfulness, imagination and powers of observation. It doesn’t require any great cleverness, so it is annoying when a pseudo-clever language is used to discuss it, as it often is with Britart. The purpose of this language is really only to intimidate people”. Judging from the fast proliferating publications, artists talks, discussions and seminars that aim to engage a wider audience in the appreciation of visual art by using language as a bridge, it would seem otherwise; that language actually helps to broaden the reach of art. And yet, tabloids continually make accusations of art establishments of trying to fool audiences by displaying and explaining away works that the public cannot relate to or understand on
their own. And perhaps the most well-known recent examples of this are the controversies that surrounded the Young British Art movement (as is also evident from the two preceding quotes from Mathew Collings, who is regarded as the foremost writer on the YBA movement), and especially the two artists (among several others) involved in the movement, Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin. As we saw in the case of Marcel Duchamp’s The Fountain in the previous chapter on Histories of Art, significant new art undermines existing structures that underlie the production and dissemination of art, and in the process subverts them in previously unforeseen ways, necessitating the reconfiguration of themselves to remain in dialogue with the new art and the producers of the art and there audiences. The Fountain eventually redefined our whole notion of art, proving that anything, as long as the artist’s choice and intention are involved, and viewed and perceived in particular contexts, has the potential to become art. In the case of the YBA movement, the art was removed from official spaces showing art, like established galleries, to temporarily abandoned industrial spaces. And in turn, the most established of galleries, including the Tate Modern (which is perhaps the epitome of the fashionableness art has acquired in recent years, with its theme-park atmosphere and audiences of thousands, if not millions), have been influenced by the ‘Britart ethos.’ And this inversion of the dynamic and function between gallery and artist has resulted in galleries like the Tate Modern putting up shows like the warehouse shows put up by artists parodying exhibitions in official spaces, although an exhibition in a disused industrial space has a completely different atmosphere with its sense of ‘anything can happen,’ as opposed to the strictly official atmosphere of a large and corporate-seeming gallery like the Tate Modern. Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin both can easily be seen now as conventional, and even mainstream artists (within the establishmed art world, at least), in the sense that there are several other artists working who use similar techniques and explore similar subject matter or content. They are also represented by well-known dealers and regularly show work in established galleries using traditional-seeming formats. And yet, there is also a strand in the mainstream media, and especially in the tabloid press, that seems to consistently attempt to categorise them as self-publicists ‘playing to the gallery’ and at the same time fooling the audience and public.
Damien Hirst first came to prominence (achieved mythical status, in one writer’s words) with the Freeze exhibition, which he curated himself in 1988. Partially funded by the London Docklands Development Corporation, Hirst negotiated the use of a building belonging to the Port of London authority to curate a show of his work and the work of his contemporaries from Goldsmiths College, London, and the YBAs were born. The YBA movement also made London the centre of the establishment art world, and Damien Hirst was to become its star attraction, perhaps culminating in his receiving the Turner Prize in 1995, the most high profile arts award in the UK. However, there was mixed reaction from the media. The Daily Telegraph denounced his work as ‘an odious and disgusting scandal.’ And Brian Sewell, art critic of the London Evening Standard, commented on Hirst’s work featured in the 1995 Turner Prize exhibition: “I don’t think of it as art. I don’t think pickling something and putting it into a glass case makes it a work of art… It is no more interesting than a stuffed pike over a pub door. Indeed there may well be more art in a stuffed pike than a dead sheep. I really cannot accept the idiocy that ‘the thing is the thing is the thing,’ which is really the best argument they can produce. It’s contemptible.” The Sun, in an article written by Norman Tebbit, reported on the works in the same exhibition: “Have they gone stark mad? The works of the ‘artist’ are lumps of dead animals. There are thousands of young artists who didn’t get a look in, presumably because their work was too attractive to sane people. Modern art experts never learn.” The Daily Mail’s verdict on the exhibition was equally negative. It also referred to the work of Tracey Emin, which was also featured in the exhibition: “For 1,000 years art has been one of our great civilising forces. Today, pickled sheep and soiled beds threaten to make barbarians of us all.” And The Stuckists, a movement formed in response to the whole YBA ethos, and to take a stand against the current art establishment, have said: “…the career of Damien Hirst, its (the YBA movement’s) most successful proponent, was launched by advertising mogul Charles Saatchi’s invention of the YBAs rather as one might launch a new product such as a jar of coffee…Art, to have value, must have meaning and the first person to experience this is its creator…It is inconceivable that anyone would spend 20 years pickling sheep for the sheer love of it. This is because the primary motivation of such work is not its intrinsic worth but its employment as a commodity and for the celebrity status it brings its manufacturer.”
Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991, tiger shark, glass, steel, 5% formaldehyde solution, 213 x 518 x 213 cm
While Damien Hirst inspired such outrage and disapproving criticism, he has also garnered enormous support, and a lot of it from the established names in contemporary art. Charles Saatchi, former advertising mogul and the foremost collector of Young British Artists, has been a Hirst supporter from the beginning, and is rumoured to have spent a fortune on Hirst’s work. Saatchi has described Hirst as a ‘genius.’ Sir Nicholas Serota, the director of Tate, admired Hirst for his appetite for risk, hinting that the negative media criticism that surrounds Hirst is only a (necessary) byproduct of the significance of his stature: “Damien is something of a showman. It is very difficult to be an artist when there is huge public and media attention. Because Damien Hirst has been built up as a very important figure, there are plenty of sceptics ready to put the knife in”. The newspaper editor Janet Street-Porter, “believes that (Hirst) is to be admired for raising the profile of contemporary art”. And “…she admires the way in which Hirst’s originality has brought art to an entirely fresh audience: ‘He’s bringing people into the gallery who’d never otherwise go’.” The British Heritage Secretary of the mid-1990s, Virginia Bottomley acknowledged his importance by describing Hirst as “a pioneer of the British art movement,” adding that Hirst’s work was valid because art should not simply ‘reflect consensus.’
Compared to Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin can be described as a mini-phenomenon by herself - a ‘culture’ all her own – at least in recent times. The boundaries between her work and her life has been blurred to an extent that her life itself has become her art. If we compare Marcel Duchamp’s The Fountain, which in its time was truly a phenomenon of sensational scale, as perhaps the only comparable art object to Tracy Emin’s My Bed (1988) there are no apparent reasons why Emin’s work should or cannot be viewed as art. (Emin herself has commented on her work: “With my work I am always credited with the truth, but of course everything I do is edited, considered, and its final production is very much calculated.”)
To consider the question of whether Tracey Emin’s My Bed is art or not, perhaps it is useful to see it within the context of the words of Marcel Duchamp, quoted in the previous chapter, explaining why The Fountain was art. I repeat part of the quote below: (The Fountain)… is a fixture that you see everyday in plumbers’ show windows. Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made The Fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new ‘thought’ for that object. If the art establishment has come to except The Fountain as a work of art and Marcel Duchamp as one of the most influential artists of 20th century (despite initial reluctance), why was it so difficult to see Emin’s My Bed as a work of art too? And why did the criticism against Emin and her work acquire such magnitude? Tracey Emin, My Bed (original installation) (1999)
Although Tracey Emin is now regarded as an important artist in the UK and the western world, and represented by and exhibited in major and ‘prestigious’ galleries, this was not the case in the beginning of her career, even before the notorious My Bed. Exploring the factors that catapulted Tracey Emin to iconic status, the writer Jonathan Jones has observed: “Tracey Emin was notorious even before this exhibition (The Turner Prize Exhibition, 1999). Her celebrity happened overnight when she appeared drunk on the Channel 4 debate after the 1997 Turner Prize. What mattered was not what she said but her loss of self-control.” In the same article, Jones also quotes novelist Nicholas Blincoe (who at that point was to edit Emin’s first novel), on the echoes and affinities Emin’s work had with the confessional writing of the ‘90s; “’You look at something like Robert McCrum saying I Was a Bit Poorly
But I’m Better Now. Everyone’s doing confessional stuff. Emin does it more dramatically’. This is what made her a celebrity… Where other people merely use confession to become famous as TV presenters or journalists, Emin is commenting on the nature of her celebrity even as she enjoys it. “She’s asking us what on earth we think of her when we plug into this romance of the self-destructive artist.’” To tap into the prevailing atmosphere of confessional art, Tracey Emin utilised objects, variously displayed texts, and both still and moving imagery with spoken monologues or dialogues to express the most intimate details of her life, to an extreme degree compared to what else was happening at the time. Some of the elements of her work included body-fluid stains, (used) contraceptives, (worn and unwashed) undergarments, vodka bottles, KY jelly, the names of ‘everyone I have ever slept with’ embroidered on the inside of a canvas tent, aborted foetuses and so on. By the time of the 1999 Turner Prize exhibition in which My Bed was on show, the media had already had the experience of previous Turner Prize exhibitions and the Sensation exhibition of 1997 and a decade of controversy over Young British Artists. Hence, response from the tabloids were mild compared to their previous ‘denunciatory enthusiasm’ and the reaction of the more serious art critics. There was “no moral outrage, just a bit of a laugh, and a confirmation that all modern art is crap.” “You couldn’t make it up,!” was the headline of the Daily Express review of the exhibition. And when two Chinese artists jumped up and down on the bed (in My Bed, 1999), the Sun’s headline on the story reporting the event read: “Fan Hits Sheet.” However, there was more serious criticism that bordered on outrage from the more established quarters and critics including those who previously commented positively and praised her work. Adrian Searle, Guardian’s art critic, had called Emin’s 1997 solo show “superb storytelling.” However, this time around, he did not seem too impressed, and addressed her personally: “Once I was touched by your stories. Now you’re only a bore… Tortured nonsense… and (this) endlessly solipsistic, self regarding homage” ‘to herself cannot go on.’ The London Evening Standard’s Brain Sewell added that ‘he “would not waste his breadth on that woman.”’ And Natasha Walter in the Independent expressed her worry that “Emin confirms an old myth of the woman artist as out of control.” While this has been only one aspect of the media interest generated by the ‘Tracey Emin’ phenomenon, the other side has been more positive, supportive, and sometimes even admiringly appreciative. Waldemar Janusczek, The Sunday Times’ art critic, observed of the same (1999) Turner prize exhibition; “her (Emin’s) work has an emotional impact, in contrast to the rather cold modern art games of the other artists on the shortlist.” And Mathew Collings, the mentor-champion of the Young British Artists, helped to validate her work in more formal terms: “The critical storm
that blew up during the week over Tracey Emin’s unmade bed, made into art, was about content and not formal qualities. It was assumed it didn’t have any formal qualities, only cheap shock content. But this is wrong. For one thing, it has a lovely rumpled whiteness… I know beds aren’t art. Anything can be art, as we have known for a long time, but not automatically, like a switch turning on. In Emin’s case, there’s a little culture of ‘Tracey Emin’ that she’s worked on over the years, and this is what makes it possible for her bed to make the leap from lifestyle into art.” Following on from these critical divisions in the last years of the 20th century, Tracey Emin’s phenomenon (as an artist, a celebrity, icon, and controversial cultural figure) seem to be solidifying, and even more serious attention is being paid to her as an artist. Most recently, the publishing group Thames & Hudson has published The Art of Tracey Emin, a book that attempts to illuminate and separate the work of Tracey Emin from the cultural phenomenon that Emin, her self, has become. The book also puts forward the idea that fame, combined with Emin’s controversial subject matter has caused her work to be dismissed by many critics as nothing more than superficial self indulgence. And with essays written by leading British academics and critics, the book locates the artist within the framework of modern art history, citing her major influences and providing a critical discourse through which to examine her work.
From the preceding two chapters, I hope I have been able to give a coherent picture of how art can sometimes escape the codifications of the existing structures from which art is born. Whether it is the commercial systems of the galleries, the more academic pursuits of disciplines such as art history and art criticism, or the more general systems of media, significant and new art has the effect of undermining the bases from which they operate. In the case study detailed in the first chapter, Histories of Art, I outlined how Marcel Duchampâ€™s The Fountain did not fit into any prevailing concepts or ideas of what art should or could be at the time of its production (1917). Nevertheless, because Duchamp perhaps had a more expanded vision of the possibilities of how art can evolve, and because the then existing structures of critical discourse and arts establishments engaged with his idea, it has come to be regarded as art, and as a major influence on the rest of 20th century artistic production and discourse. The Fountain opened up new paths of discussion that had previously not been explored. A good indication of this is perhaps the numerous references to Duchamp (and especially The Fountain) that keeps cropping up even in contemporary arts journals and text books. In the two other, more recent, case studies described in the second chapter, Art as a Dialogue between Visual Experience and Language, I hope a coherent picture has also emerged of the many factors within which an artist produces, within which his work is viewed, responded to and ultimately valued or discarded as not of any importance. Although artists and their audiences are no longer bound by the rigid operations of a guild system, they still do depend on various systems that are in place, not so much as to produce works of art, but to display their work and reach viewers. In contemporary society, some of these structures are the media, (wealthy) collectors, art establishments such as galleries and museums, influential critics and academics, who directly or indirectly confer value on art objects. And the interplay of all these multifarious factors means that what we value as art cannot be preordained, but will depend on various dynamics that operate simultaneously. Some of these would be: the ideological or psychological climate of a given cultural-historical situation, how well an artistâ€™s sensibilities and artistic output are aligned to this climate, how receptive the public is for these artistic products, the state of the economy, which ultimately dictates how much of an investment the more commercial structures like galleries, collectors and buyers of current art would be able to make. In addition to this macro level of the dynamics of what and how art is established, there is also bound to be the choice of the individual, which is really the entity through which art is produced, appreciated, and valued.
This brings me to one of the main arguments explored in the dissertation; that of the discrepancy between visual experience and language. By this I mean to convey the notion of the different qualities of these two ways of experiencing and their interplay, which I see as a main factor in determining our notions of what art is, first at an individual or micro level, but also at more collective or communal levels . “Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.” I have reproduced the quote from John Berger here to emphasize the primary quality of visual experience in the ‘hierarchy of experiences.’ Berger continues, “…there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.” The fact that words cannot do justice to our visual experience does not imply that words cannot affect our experience, for better or worse. Moreover, within the context of my argument, the fact that certain visual works of art (The Fountain, My Bed, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, for instance) are described, appreciated or criticised, using written or spoken language as a medium, means that it can condition the ways in which the works themselves are perceived. And perhaps most susceptible to these conditionings are those without the necessary skills (of interpreting artworks, etc.) to work their way through the linguistic information to ‘see’ the works of art for themselves to make up their minds. And in this category, I feel it would be safe to place the sections of the public to whom visual art is not a daily activity they engage in, and rely on the mass media and other alternative sources to make decisions as to which exhibitions or works of art are worth the time, energy and money to go and see. And the media, as I have noted, by itself, is not a system independent and autonomous. The media too is in a constantly changing relationship with other fields of production; the political climate, the economic state, the prevailing ideas that are seen as fashionable, etc. The pristine experience of visual works of art gets disseminated by the filters of all these systems and structures, which all rely to lesser or greater degrees, on spoken and written language to propagate their positions and stances on various issues and concerns deemed important and necessary to them. Hence, when newspapers accuse Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst of bringing down the standards of the arts, or labelling something art when it is not, the writers of these articles in newspapers can be seen as making judgments from their own individual positions. They are perceiving the works of Emin and Hirst as not worthy of the label ‘art.’ At the same time, those who support these artists, including the collectors and promoters and the audiences who enjoy and find these works meaningful, are also affirming and codifying their views and perceptions. Consequently, the real test of all artworks
that attain significance within a particular tradition or canon can only be how well they stand the test of time. And as such, the primary visual experience of art works have to undergo the linguistic dissection of critics, media and public, so that its deeper truths can be identified and tested for its authenticity, durability and perhaps ultimately its power to make our lives richer. Linguistic discourse then becomes a necessary and complimentary activity for the visual arts, if it is to evolve in ways that are in touch with the broader realities of societies and cultures within which they exist, and if art is to become a coherent and meaningful activity to the individuals who make up (that) society. Last but not least, I would also like to take one final look at, and emphasize the roles of contemporary artists within the complex structures they operate in. The fact that they are to various degrees dependant on the systems and factors that I have described throughout the dissertation does in no way reduce their contributions and ability to affect the status-quo of any given period. For, after all, they are the produces of the work which becomes the focal point of cultural discourse, and because we have come to accept that any ‘disposition within the catalogue of human conceptual and emotional responses can be released into art,’ their contribution to the course and evolution of art remains paramount. Artists today are faced with unprecedented opportunities to originate new cultural possibilities. This has been made possible by the fact that artists are now left free to use any medium, explore any topic, make use of all manners of (technological) processes and aesthetic principles to give form to their ideas and artistic endeavours. And perhaps of more importance is the missing of pre-existing standards, predetermined measures of success and fixed, readymade definitions of what art is or what it could be. They are left on their own to identify an artistic concern or interest, find a means or form of giving expression to it, discover an audience for it and ultimately gauging a sense of success with their endeavours. By virtue of not being weighed down in any way by methods, rules and requirements, artists today are uniquely positioned to become the ‘free agents’ of cultures and societies to disrupt equilibriums and give form to fresh perspectives on how art can evolve, and in consequence, how our lives can find new forms in relation not only to the artworks themselves, but to our surrounding worlds and environments.
Chapter 1 Histories of Art (Marcel Duchampâ€™s The Fountain, A Case Study) 1. Collings, M, This is Modern Art, 2000, London, Seven Dials, Cassel & Co 2. West, S, (general editor), Guide to Art, 1996, London, Bloomsbury 3. Ades, D, Cox, N, Hopkins, D, Marcel Duchamp, (World of Art Series), 1999, London, Thames and Hudson 4. Harrison, C, Wood, P, (editors), Art in Theory 1900-1990, An Anthology of Changing Ideas, 1992, 2001, Oxford, UK, Cambridge, USA, Blackwell 5. Frascina, F, Harris, J, (editors), Art in Modern Culture, An Anthology of Critical Texts, 1992, 2001, London, The Open University, Phaidon 6. Harrison, C, Wood, P, (editors), Art in Theory 1900-1990, An Anthology of Changing Ideas, 1992, 2001, Oxford, UK, Cambridge, USA Blackwell 7. Bourdieu, P, The Field of Cultural Production, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1993 8. Ades, D, Cox, N, Hopkins, D, Marcel Duchamp, (World of Art Series), 1999, London, Thames and Hudson 9. West, S, (general editor), Guide to Art, 1996, London, Bloomsbury 10. ibid. 11. ibid. 12. ibid. 13. West, S, (general editor), Guide to Art, 1996, London, Bloomsbury 14. ibid. 15. ibid. 16. Elkins, J, Stories of Art, 2002, London, New York, Routledge 17. West, S, (general editor), Guide to Art, 1996, London, Bloomsbury 18. Harris, J, The New Art History, A Critical Introduction, 2001, London, New York, Routledge 19. Stories of Art, James Elkins, Routledge, London, New York, 2002 20. ibid. 21. ibid. 22. ibid. 23. Ede, S, Strange and Charmed, 2000, (editor), London, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation 24. Weintraub, L, How Todayâ€™s Artists Think and Work, 2003, Thames and Hudson
25. ibid. 26. ibid. 27. ibid. 28. ibid. 29. ibid. 30. ibid. 31. ibid. 32. For a detailed study of the close relationship between the psychology of arts and the psychology of status, please see Veblen, T, Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899/1994,New York, Penguin, and Pinker, S, How the Mind Works, 1997, New York, Penguin, especially the last chapter ‘The Meaning of Life’
Chapter 2 Art as a Dialogue between Visual Experience and Language 33. Barry, P, Beginning Theory - An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, 1995, Manchester, University Press, Manchester 34. Ede, S, Strange and Charmed, 2000, (editor), London, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation 35. As quoted in Adams, L. S., The Methodologies of Art, An Introduction, 1996, New York, Icon Editions (Harper Collins) 36. ibid. 37. ibid. 38. Collings, M, 1999, Is Britart Any Use?, (online edition), London, available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/ britart/collings.shtml, (accessed 09 January 2004) 39. ibid. 40. ibid. 41. Nelson, J, 1999, Art Attack: how the YBA’s changed the face of art today, (online edition), London, available from: http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/H/hirst , (accessed 09 January) 2004 42. ibid. 43. The Stuckists (est. 1999, anti-anti-art/the first remodernist art group), 1999, A Stuckist Critique of Damien Hirst, (online edition), London, available from: http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/H/hirst, (accessed 09 January 04)
44. Morley, S, 1999, In defence of Damien Hirst, (online edition), London, available from: (http://www.channel4. com/culture/microsites/H/hirst, (accessed 09 January 04) 45. ibid. 46. ibid. 47. ibid. 48. Collings, M, 1999, You’ve made your bed… (Turner Prize, Special Report), (online edition), available from: http:// www.bbc.co.uk/arts, (accessed 19 January 2004) 49. Author unidentified, 2003, Calculated Risk (online edition), available from http:www.smh.com.au/cgi-bin/ commonpopupPrintArticle.pl?path=/articles/2003/02, (accessed 13 January 2004) 50. Ades, D, Cox, N, Hopkins, D, Marcel Duchamp, (World of Art Series), 1999, London, Thames and Hudson 51. Jones, J, 1999, Road to Infamy: Factors that conspired to create an icon, The Guardian (online edition), London, available from: http://guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,3918247-1063,00.html, (accessed 13 January 2004) 52. ibid. 53. ibid. 54. ibid. 55. ibid. 56. ibid. 57. ibid. 58. ibid. 59. ibid. 60. ibid. 61. ibid. 62. ibid. 63. ibid. 64. McCloy, S, 2002, Tracy Emin You’re My Hero, Artwrite, The University of New South Wales, (online edition), Sydney, available from: http://www.artwrite.cofa.unsw.edu.au/0327/book_reviews/McCloy_e (accessed 13 January 2004) Chapter 3 Conclusions 65. Berger, J, 1972, 1977, Ways of Seeing, London, US, British Broadcasting Corporation, The Viking Press, Penguin 66. ibid. 67. Weintraub, L, How Today’s Artists Think and Work, 2003, Thames and Hudson
Books Adams, L, S, 1996, The Methodologies of Art, An Introduction, New York, Icon Editions (Harper Collins) Arnold, D, Iversen, M, (editors), 2003, Art and Thought, Oxford, Blackwell Bachelard, G, 1958, 1994, The Poetics of Space, Boston, Beacon Press Barry, P, 2002, Beginning Theory, An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, 2nd ed. Manchester/New York, Manchester University Press/ Room 400 Baudrillard, J, Fabbri, P, Kosuth, J, 2000, Thinking Art The Game of Rules, Milan, Trivioquadrivio Berger, J, 1972, 1977, Ways of Seeing, London, US, British Broadcasting Corporation, The Viking Press, Penguin Bourdieu, P, 1993, The Field of Cultural Production, Cambridge, Polity Press Bourriaud, N, 1998, 2002, Relational Aesthetics, France, les press du reel Collings, M, 2000, This is Modern Art, ed., London, Seven Dials, Cassel & Co Deleuze, Gilles, 1981, 2003, Francis Bacon, The Logic of Sensation, London, New York, Continuum Ede, S, 2000, Strange and Charmed, (editor), London, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Elkins, J, 2002, Stories of Art, New York, London, Routledge Fernie, E, 1995,1996, Art History and its Methods, A Critical Anthology, London, Phaidon Harrison, C, Wood, P, (editors), 1992, 2001, Art in Theory 1900-1990, An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Oxford, UK, Cambridge, USA, Blackwell Harris, J, 2001, The New Art History, A Critical Introduction, London, New York, Routledge Pinker, S, 1997, 1998, How the Mind Works, New York, London, Penguin Pinker, S, 2002, 2003, The Blank Slate, London, New York, Penguin Pinker, S, 1994, The Language Instinct, London, New York, Penguin Rush, M, 1999, 2003, New Media in Late 20th Century Art, London, Thames & Hudson Smith, E, L, 1969, 2001, Movements in Art since 1945, new edition, London, Thames & Hudson Staniszewski, M, A, 1995, Believing is Seeing, Creating the Culture of Art, New York, Penguin Townsend, C, Merck, M, 2002, The Art of Tracey Emin, London, Thames & Hudson Weintraub, L, 2003, How Todayâ€™s Artists Think and Work, London, Thames and Hudson West, S, (general editor), 1996, Guide to Art, London, Bloomsbury
E-journals and websites http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/britart/collings.shtml http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/H/hirst http://guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,3918247-1063,00.html http://www.artwrite.cofa.unsw.edu.au/0327/book_reviews/McCloy_e
 Collings, M, This is Modern Art, 2000, London, Seven Dials, Cassel & Co  West, S, (general editor), Guide to Art, 1996, London, Bloomsbury  Ades, D, Cox, N, Hopkins, D, Marcel Duchamp, (World of Art Series), 1999, London, Thames and Hudson  Harrison, C, Wood, P, (editors), Art in Theory 1900-1990, An Anthology of Changing Ideas, 1992, 2001, Oxford, UK, Cambridge, USA, Blackwell  Frascina, F, Harris, J, (editors), Art in Modern Culture, An Anthology of Critical Texts, 1992, 2001, London, The Open University, Phaidon  Harrison, C, Wood, P, (editors), Art in Theory 1900-1990, An Anthology of Changing Ideas, 1992, 2001, Oxford, UK, Cambridge, USA Blackwell  Bourdieu, P, The Field of Cultural Production, 1993 Polity Press, Cambridge  Ades, D, Cox, N, Hopkins, D, Marcel Duchamp, (World of Art Series), 1999, London, Thames and Hudson  West, S, (general editor), Guide to Art, 1996, London, Bloomsbury  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  West, S, (general editor), Guide to Art, 1996, London, Bloomsbury  ibid.  ibid.
 ibid.  ibid.  Harris, J, The New Art History, A Critical Introduction, 2001, London, New York, Routledge  ibid.  Stories of Art, James Elkins, Routledge, London, New York, 2002  ibid.  ibid.  Ede, S, Strange and Charmed, 2000, (editor), London, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation  Weintraub, L, How Today’s Artists Think and Work, 2003, Thames and Hudson  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  For a detailed study of the close relationship between the psychology of arts and the psychology of status, please see Veblen, T, Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899/1994,New York, Penguin, and Pinker, S, How the Mind Works, 1997, New York, Penguin, especially the last chapter ‘The Meaning of Life’  Peter Barry, 1995, Beginning Theory - An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, Manchester, Manchester University Press  Ede, S, 2000, Strange and Charmed, (editor), London, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation  As quoted in The Methodologies of Art, Laurie Schneider Adams, Icon Editions, 1996  ibid.
 ibid.  Collings, M, 1999, Is Britart Any Use?, (online edition), London, available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/ britart/collings.shtml, (accessed 09 January 2004)  ibid.  ibid.  Nelson, J, 1999, Art Attack: how the YBA’s changed the face of art today, (online edition), London, available from: http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/H/hirst , (accessed 09 January 2004)  ibid.  The Stuckists (est. 1999, anti-anti-art/the first remodernist art group), 1999, A Stuckist Critique of Damien Hirst, (online edition), London, available from: http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/H/hirst, (accessed 09 January 04)  Morley, S, 1999, In defence of Damien Hirst, (online edition), London, available from: (http://www.channel4. com/culture/microsites/H/hirst, (accessed 09 January 04)  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  Collings, M, 1999, You’ve made your bed… (Turner Prize, Special Report), (online edition), available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts, (accessed 19 January 2004)  Author unidentified, 2003, Calculated Risk (online edition), available from http:www.smh.com.au/cgi-bin/ commonpopupPrintArticle.pl?path=/articles/2003/02, (accessed 13 January 2004)  Ades, D, Cox, N, Hopkins, D, Marcel Duchamp, (World of Art Series), 1999, London, Thames and Hudson  Jones, J, 1999, Road to Infamy: Factors that conspired to create an icon, The Guardian (online edition), London, available from: http://guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,3918247-1063,00.html, (accessed 13 January 2004)  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.
 ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  ibid.  McCloy, S, 2002, Tracy Emin You’re My Hero, Artwrite, The University of New South Wales, (online edition), Sydney, available from: http://www.artwrite.cofa.unsw.edu.au/0327/book_reviews/McCloy_e (accessed 13 January 2004)  . Berger, J, 1972, 1977, Ways of Seeing, London, US, British Broadcasting Corporation, The Viking Press, Penguin  ibid.  Weintraub, L, How Today’s Artists Think and Work, 2003, Thames and Hudson
The Sensationalisation of Art and the Dialogue between Visual Experience and Language
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for BA (Hons.) degree in Installation Art and Events.
School of Design Technology Department of Architecture The University of Huddersfield January 27th 2004
Published on Sep 12, 2012