If the Turner Prize isn’t your bag…

… Jonathan Jones in The Guardian has a few suggestions for you:


Who’s buying these Old Moosters?
Jonathan Jones
Monday December 3, 2007
The Guardian

The truth is very few people really like art. This is the dirty secret that makes a living for artists such as Caroline Shotton. She is a new addition to that august company of artists who have careers, it seems, solely on the back of the joy the public takes in upsetting art critics, especially at Turner prize time.The hilarious gimmick of this Central St Martin’s-educated painter is to put cows in the classics. She’s done the Mona Lisa as a cow and turned The Scream into The Moo. Klimt’s The Kiss becomes The Smooch and Cow with a Pearl Earring is her take on Vermeer. Breezily painted, big-eyed bovine faces whose blocky good humour would be diverting on a birthday card stare back at you from lurid pink and blue canvases.

Shotton, who started out as a commercial artist and took up her current, er, more personal and creative approach after having her first child, is typical of the new breed of artist who thrives on today’s market anarchy. Her works sell in limited-edition prints on block canvas through local dealers and online art stores at up to £600 a time; this has been touted as totalling £3m in sales. Just as the combination of affluence, the internet, and the rejection of lofty cultural standards by the art world has made stars of Jack Vettriano and Banksy, it has enabled Shotton to accumulate enough sales and attention to be promoted as the latest bad-taste popular artist. And I sympathise, I really do, if you’re reading this and siding with her for slapping the art snobs’ faces. Critics and museums lie when they claim serious art is accessible. It is obscure and demanding. The most worthwhile art improves when studied repeatedly and some simply refuses a casual glance, as Sir Joshua Reynolds recognised when he warned young artists that they wouldn’t get too excited the first time they saw a Raphael – they must persist until they liked him. Who has time for that now?

High art is no easier to understand, no more transparent, than classical music – and no less rewarding. But while classical music occupies its own separate cultural sphere, and if you don’t want to listen you don’t have to, art gets in your face. You feel you have to go and see King Tut or the Turner prize – and come away so bored and alienated you get your revenge by buying a print of Shotton’s Moona Lisa.