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Art is culture, right?

(133 Posts)
thatbags Fri 31-Oct-14 13:27:49

So when I saw this title, I thought I'd better find out what he meant:

Title: Jonathan Jones, the Guardian's Art critic, is a twat, by Iain Dale

Jonathan Jones is a twat. He’s the art critic of The Guardian, and wrote this week that the poppy display in the Tower of London was “fake, trite and inward looking – and a UKIP style memorial”. In a typically elitist Guardian manner he also criticised the sculpture’s (for that is what it is) “mass appeal”.

The man is an idiot. Naturally, he refused to come on my radio show to defend himself or his stance, which seemed more designed to court publicity than anything else. I have never seen the point of art critics. They sit in their ivory towers and take issue with anything that normal people tend to appreciate. Instead, they laud praise on modern art which the rest of us regard as a joke.

On my LBC show I am launching a campaign to persuade the Tower of London to keep the poppies there until 11 November 1918, the hundredth anniversary of the armistice, assuming that the poppies can stand the weather. I wonder what Jones would say about that. But then again, who gives a monkey’s arse what he thinks.


What do you think of the idea of keeping the poppy display at the Tower? And do you agree with what he says about art critics?

glassortwo Fri 31-Oct-14 13:37:58

I find the poppy display at the Tower very moving so I think it should stay.

If you dont know what pleases you why would you think an art critic does. Personally I find most recommendations from critics not to my taste.

ffinnochio Fri 31-Oct-14 14:10:04

Nasty tone to the article.

How I hate the use of the word us when someone is giving a personal opinion, particularly when it derides another's, art critic or not, even if considered a twat.

I think the poppy display is beautiful and if one were to get really arty, one could say it's ' a participatory sculptural installation' wink. I like the idea that people can join in. Ariel shots are magnificent.

I would have liked to see some white poppies included, but from an artistic point of view, would it have had such an impact? Is it art, or is it a memorial? I think it's both.

One hopes that any critic from whatever medium comes from an informed and intelligent understanding of whatever's being critiqued. I'll then make up my own mind.

Riverwalk Fri 31-Oct-14 14:12:38

Iain Dale is the twat here.

The installation is not yet finished - I was there yesterday with my grandson by the way - after Armistice Day they are to be sold at £25 each; in fact I think they've all been sold.

I don't agree with him on art critics.

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 31-Oct-14 14:20:52

I haven't read the article, but, to be honest, I'm not at all sure about the display at the Tower. I think Poppy Day should be kept quietly and reverently. It is not something for a modern artist to suddenly make a display of. Remembrance should be kept just as we have always kept it, and hopefully, always will.

I don't know who Jonathon Jones or Iain Dale are.

I don't like the sound of the LBC person.

thatbags Fri 31-Oct-14 16:47:21

I agree about Iain Dale's nasty tone but I think Jonathan Jones's tone (if he has been quoted correctly) is nasty too. Perhaps this is how journalists talk about each other?

I think a lot of people would agree, in general terms, with what Dale says about art critics: "They sit in their ivory towers and take issue with anything that normal people tend to appreciate. Instead, they laud praise on modern art which the rest of us regard as a joke."

ffinnochio Fri 31-Oct-14 17:00:45

Isn't the poppy installation modern art? And it seems to me that many ordinary and normal people appreciate it rather than regarding it as a joke.

Think Dale's comments are too sweeping to take too seriously.

Think they're both twats.

Eloethan Fri 31-Oct-14 17:13:30

I don't like the use of the word "twat" as an insult. Its original meaning is a woman's genitals.

I absolutely agree with what the Guardian critic said - war should not be a subject for an art installation that, as he says, "prettifies" the horrors of war. He found on visiting the memorial, that there was a "fun" atmosphere in the jostling crowd, rather than an opportunity for quiet reflection.

He is accused of "politicising" the issue, but war is a political issue. Arms "Fairs" are big and well-guarded events in London (in the 2011 Fair, Caroline Lucas discovered sales literature for banned cluster bombs). The arms trade, championed by all mainstream political parties, is a significant contributor to our economy.

For those that are interested, the link below is to a report by the Quakers that explores the political efforts that have been, and continue to be, made to militarise the population, and the strategies that are used for doing this.

Iam64 Fri 31-Oct-14 17:49:16

I'm with Eloethan on the use of the word "twat", disgusting word to use in any situation.

I don't agree with his view of the poppy installation either. I love it and can't see how it glorifies or "prettifies" the horrors of war. I hope it stays.

tiggypiro Fri 31-Oct-14 18:35:59

I have just checked the dictionary definition of 'twat' and it seems to have two meanings the second of which is 'contemptible person'. That was what I always thought it meant but was taken to task a few years ago when I used it in that context. Pleased to see I was right !

Ana Fri 31-Oct-14 18:41:02

There are also two meanings listed for the 'c' word, one of which is "an unpleasant or stupid person", but I don't think that would make it any more acceptable to use in general conversation...

pompa Fri 31-Oct-14 18:57:29

Not wishing to use the T or C words, both of which are horrid.

BUT I do agree with the sentiments, and staying in the same neck of the woods anatomically and not being sexist, the guy is just an a----hole.

Only seen the poppies from a coach, but I was moved by the experience, certainly a work of art in my book.

pompa Fri 31-Oct-14 19:06:41

Mrs. P said I shouldn't be afraid of the C & T words, if I'm thinking them I might as well say them, so here goes :-

Christmas & Turkey blush

MiniMouse Fri 31-Oct-14 19:10:15


Lona Fri 31-Oct-14 19:14:52

I think MrsP should have her own thread! grin

janerowena Fri 31-Oct-14 19:26:03


Art is so subjective. One person's art is another's mawkish twaddle, and always has been - look at the green lady that so many people used to have a print of in their sitting-rooms. As soon as a work of art becomes much loved by the masses, it ceases to be art because the critics start to doubt their own taste. As in - if Joe Bloggs loves it, it can't be tasteful.

Much as I loved the poppies when they started to flow, I think there are too many of them now. It no longer looks graceful. I think it was a work of art, but has ceased to be one.

And I'm with jings about remembrance day. I know it's the anniversary year, but I do think many, many people have gone over the top with it. Yes, the war ended, and it was celebrated then. The quiet remembrance works for me, but not the almost carnival atmosphere that some seem determined to revive.

rosequartz Fri 31-Oct-14 20:02:17

We all know what the poppies symbolise. At least most of us do so it is sad that some people are treating it as a fun day out and/or merely an art display.

I am so pleased that someone has brought the poppies and all they mean to the public's attention. I do realise that once a year many will buy a poppy and the money does go to help service and ex-service personnel and their families, and this year should be more thought-provoking than ever. The money raised does not go to just service personnel themselves, it helps the whole family, so the RBL Poppy Appeal is more far-reaching than some other charities.

It is also extremely difficult, in our area at least, to find any younger people who are in the least bit interested in helping with the Poppy Appeal - in a year or so we will find that there is absolutely nobody who wants to take on this once-a-year appeal if younger people do not come forward.

So in my opinion the more attention that is brought to this the better.
No, I don't think the poppy display should stay there until 11.11.18 - they have been purchased by people and should be despatched to those people after 11th November this year. Perhaps another similar display will be undertaken in four years' time and more funds raised for this worthwhile charity.

I wouldn't use the word that Iain Dale used, but I would say that the description which Jonathan Jones used - fake, trite and inward looking probably applies to Jonathan Jones himself. Pretentious plonker would be more my description.

Ana Fri 31-Oct-14 20:09:20

I'd have thought it was the other way round! thlgrin

Nothing particularly pretentious in Iain Dale's opinion as quoted in the OP. Of course, I'm not familiar with Jonathan Jones's usual style (not being a Guardian reader).

MiceElf Sat 01-Nov-14 07:47:01

I've just read the original article. Jones makes a number of valid points about the display. The thrust of his argument is that the ceramic poppies prettify the horrors of war and the dreadful reality is sanitised.

That, I think is a fair point.

Where I think he is wrong, is his attitude towards the thousands who come to see the installation in asserting that they are unaware of, or indifferent to, the nasty reality.

I'm not at all sure that is the case. Every day our screens are filled with the horrors of man's inhumanity to man and I don't think that people are so ignorant or insensitive that they fail to make the connection.

Every one of those poppies was nominated by a descendant of someone killed in that war. Each has an individual story and those who nominated will have researched that person and be very familiar with the circumstances of their death.

Jones also laments that the crowds were not at the Kiefer exhibition.

Well, no. It's costs £15 to attend at the RA and whilst I agree that this is heart stopping - one of the most extraordinary exhibitions I've ever seen - it's not so readily accessible or well known.

That's just a fact, and those who are moved by one piece of art should not be sneered at because they have failed to visit another.

annodomini Sat 01-Nov-14 07:52:00

Well said, Mice. The article in question was a piece of élitist arty snobbery.

MiceElf Sat 01-Nov-14 08:15:08

I've just looked at today's Guardian and Jones has written a long, much more nuanced article, defending his view.

It's well argued and he references some of his own family members, but he's on shaky ground I think.

There are thousands of people who are very familiar with the story and horror of that war but he fails to acknowledge that he is not the only one who has a knowledge of history or who is able to empathise with anyone who has suffered the horrors of war.

He also laments that this is is just a British memorial. Well yes, this is Britain. The other combatant nations have their own commemorations and will remember in their own way. To remember the dead of this nation is not synonymous with ignoring the dead of others.

His original article was short, snappy and intemperate, I think he's dug a big hole by positioning himself as he has, and he's now trying to justify himself.

goldengirl Sat 01-Nov-14 14:53:50

Its made an impact on many young people just by the numbers of the poppies. It could be considered a history lesson in art. Family members have visited and say there were discussions amongst groups looking at the display about the war. I think it really brings home the individuality of those who died - and what the numbers quoted actually look like.

janerowena Sat 01-Nov-14 16:49:22

It's certainly captured the imagination, I know quite a few people who travelled to London especially to see it. They all said it was a wonderful and touching experience.

absent Sat 01-Nov-14 17:25:29

MiceElf If Jonathan Jones thinks the poppies at the Tower is just a British memorial, he is mistaken. It is also a memorial to the colonial soldiers who died in World War I. Yesterday was the anniversary of the establishment of the ANZACs, many of whom fought, suffered and died in what was essentially a European war. The Governor General of New Zealand, or whatever he was called then, agreed to provide a stated number of white New Zealand volunteers and a stated number of Maoris, who had even less to do with "poor little Belgium" or Gallipoli than their pakeha counterparts. It didn't have much to do with Canadian or Indian soldiers either.

rosequartz Sat 01-Nov-14 17:39:44

It was a time when the Commonwealth stood together unlike today when we seem to have abandoned them in favour of a country we were once at war with. Times move on and we should forgive if not forget, but I do think this is an ironic situation.

We commemorate Gallipoli in our town as well as Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day, and we have been to an Anzac Day commemoration in a small town Australia where, the young and old all came together to remember.

Surely art is in the eye of the beholder - what someone will think is beautiful, moving and thought-provoking will leave someone else cold. I do think that some art critics and others who avidly follow their thoughts will decree that a load of old rubbish is 'art' and anyone who dares to disagree is not 'cultured', educated or intelligent. A case of the Emperor's new clothes in many case imo.