Monday, August 24, 2009

Is Government and art really such a bad thing?

I just read Jonathan Jones' recent rant over at the Guardian and I must say I'm a little annoyed. He criticizes the British government's art collection and the choices that it has made. £500,000 of taxpayers' money was used to collect contemporary art last year, and many of the choices have upset people, including a work by Dan Batchelor which involves the use of old light bulbs and wire.

Part of me commends the Telegraph (the original publisher of the report on the government's art spending) and Jones for questioning the quality and enormous cost of the collection. Questioning is essential to any good democracy and should always be encouraged. However, their flagrant disapproval of the work of Batchelor - describing it as though it is almost a piece of trash - is so unbelievably hypocritical. They want works of "high quality" to be purchased, and don't believe the government should be wasting money on silly work like Batchelor's, yet praise the work of Lucian Freud. Who are they to say that Batchelor's work will be any less significant than the work of Freud in 50, or 100 years, or is at this very moment. I almost couldn't believe what I was reading - I felt like I we must have regressed to a time before Modernism hit us... and gasp!!! postmodern art --- eek! yuck!

They also are riled up at the mere idea that the government is spending such enormous amounts of money on art in a time of economic turmoil. Maybe if governments throughout the world would spend even more money on the arts, then we would have more well-rounded societies and economies. Art investment - at the "high level" like through auctions & galleries... and on the "low" level like public education for our children - is essential to the growth and success of our nations. But feel free to question me... I encourage it.