But I know what I like
It was Orson Welles who first said “I don’t know anything about art but I know what I like.” Or was it Mark Twain?
Anyway, today’s the day that The Turner Prize shortlist is announced so we thought it’d be fun to go around the Creative department and ask everyone:
1) What is your favourite bit of art here in the office?
2) What is your favourite bit of art of all time?
And here’s what they said:
1) My favourite piece of art in the office is the Hat ‘n’ Feather gig poster. Whenever it’s discussed, Frosty’s description of the old venue and the customary googling of quotes about incest give it an air of times gone past that perfectly matches the collage visuals.
2) My favourite piece of art of all time is Pure Pigment:
It’s the opposite of a classical painting where you could look for ages at each little detail and continue to discover something new. Instead, there’s only one thing to look at and it doesn’t change yet you can still stare at it for a long time. It’s like staring into the void but the void happens to be in a really, really nice colour.
Pure Pigment’s better than Klein’s paintings because the floor is a much more interesting venue for art than a wall – Wetherspoon’s carpets, the Portland airport carpet, that guy who paints on chewing gum – it’s a much more down to earth way of displaying art (ba-dum-tish).
1) The little Silver Surfer that Frosty made. I actually thought it was a small Pop Art piece. It’s different and it’s cool:
2) ‘Ratto di Proserpina’ by Gian Lorenzo Bernini at the Villa Borghese is breathtaking:
Made of stone, there is so much detail on the skin, with veins and muscles underneath, and the God’s hand sinking into Proserpina’s skin. This is really beautiful.
1) Our 1980 photographic portrait of legendary luchador ‘Blue Demon’ in his best suit:
2) A huge smear spoils Hans Holbein the Younger’s 1533 ‘The Ambassadors’. Or does it? When the painting is viewed from an extreme angle a skull emerges in three dimensions. It’s one of the most famous uses of anamorphosis, and apparently was an omen of impending mortality.
Painted in 1533? Really? The 16th Century? It’s the most avant-garde rock ‘n’ roll over Damien Hirst and yer diamond encrusted skulls painting I’ve ever seen. And I have seen it, up close.
1) The Elizabethan dude in the Luchador mask. It’s awesome:
2) Whilst studying, I had to write a paper on the Weimar Republic and the artists of that time. I’d never really studied WW1 in-depth and ‘Shock Troops Advance under Gas ’ by Otto Dix really stood out and helped me understand the way that war dehumanises people to the degree that they become almost completely alien. Also, it looks cool as f**k.
1) One I particularly like is a piece that gets seen every day by everyone, but isn’t really on view. It’s a photograph from a series by Lyle Owerko of huge 80s boomboxes. I saw it in a gallery round the corner from our last office. It’s seen some action, covered in disintegrating stickers, and brings back a whole era listening to music without digital downloads, iPods or tasteful minimal speakers with robotic voices doing your shopping. This thing plays music from a cassette tape and plays it loud. Deal with it.
2) I don’t really have favourite piece of art, but one that I do love (and bought a print of for my house) is ‘Whistlejacket’ by George Stubbs:
Painted in 1762, Stubbs broke all the rules and trends by painting what is actually a very graphic piece that is essentially an 18th-century cutout of a beautiful horse. Gone were the usual scenic backgrounds, horse grooms and statesmanlike owners. This is just a magnificent beast mid-rear on a flat, single colour background. Classic paint and subject matter, but with a twist that was way ahead of its time.
1) I like the ‘Cock-Up (hand) [red/blue]’ print by Patrick Thomas:
It’s the ‘smile in the mind’ thing. For me, anyway, it took me a few seconds before it clicked. I just find that pleasing. I like things that make me smile.
2) For that same reason, one of my favourite artists is Joe Webb. He creates clever collages with messages. I just love them. I cannot pick one. That is too hard. Soz.
1) The neon ‘E’ is my favourite piece of Earnest art as I constantly doodle letters and screenprint 3D letters for fun! It’s also opposite my desk so I see it every time I look up.
2) I saw this photograph by Yelena Afonina of ‘Believers attending an Orthodox Easter service’ on a news site this morning and it caught my eye and imagination:
It reminds me of the stillness and light in paintings by the old Dutch Masters – the focal point of one character and the singing colours. I love that.
1) My favourite piece of art in the office is the taxidermified badger (there’s a good chance that taxidermified is not a legitimate word):
I can never work out whether Damien Hirst is a visionary artist-cum-commentator or an exceptionally shrewd and gifted con man – or where the dividing line is. The badger peering down at me each day is a dual reminder: 1. marketing is not art and 2. that context is (almost) everything – a pickled shark is worth $12m but dearly departed Reginald would probably only fetch £20 at a car boot sale.
2) The Rothko Room at the Tate Modern (Maroon series 1958-59):
There is no story, no narrative. There is no linear way to interpret what you’re experiencing. Any attempt to overlay or construct rational meaning is lost amongst the depths of colour and the edgeless rectangles. You can read all the stuff you want about how Rothko was looking to replicate Michelangelo’s Florentine architecture or some guff by Nietzsche, but none of it matters: it’s just you and a near endless red-black void staring into one another. The apocalypse isn’t meant to feel this peaceful. (Also, they were commissioned for the Four Seasons restaurant in NYC. Because sometimes art is marketing. *shrug emoji*)
1) I’m a bit partial to ‘Photo Opportunity – Landscape’ by Russell Marshall which hangs in our ‘Conspicuous’ meeting room:
It reminds me that getting into trouble is par for the course when you’re trying to shake things up. Also, any room that has Bowie in it is made instantly better.
2) Beyond the office, I don’t know that I’ve yet discovered my favourite artwork of all time, but I did recently discover the paintings of Alistair Little and had to buy his Columbo portrait ‘One More Thing’ for myself straight away.