Arty quotes

Brian Sewell

Contemporary Exhibitionists?
Brian Sewell wrote in the coda of ‘Naked Emperors’:

“Recognising art as entertainment might indeed be the basic definition of contemporary as opposed to modern art, which if we give it the date bracket c. 1870 – c. 1950, extends from Impressionism to Surrealism, and was still, even in such extreme movements as Cubism and Constructivism, within the traditions of ancestral European art, if predominately in their lines of intellectual enquiry rather than subject and seductive surface treatment. Contemporary art has largely abandoned intellectual enquiry; it is subject to no formal discipline, nor has it a formal language; it is not concerned with aesthetic or empathetic consequences for the viewer and, having no rules, has become unjudgeable self-indulgence by largely self-declared but wretchedly ignorant and ill-educated practitioners. Art in most manifestations supported by the public purse is now neither the learned profession of the High Renaissance and the Age of Reason, nor the skill-based trade of the earlier twentieth century – it has become the business of the circus freak managed by the circus barker.”