Sunday, 7 September 2008

I love Robert Hughes

I stood on the touchline this morning watching my son's football team win their game 3-2. That almost made up for the fact that I got completely soaked in yet another torrential downpour. Once again I found myself to be a rather under-prepared parent. At the six hour long tournament last week everyone seemed to have fold away chairs, rugs, food, flasks etc - everyone except me. Today, everyone had very sensibly brought an umbrella. Except me.

August was officially the wettest and most overcast in the UK since records began. September looks to be trying to compete with it. At least we are not suffering the floods that others have had to endure elsewhere in this increasingly soggy country.

And I love Robert Hughes. I do. I really do. He changed my life. Sitting in the lounge of my parent's council house in Newcastle-upon-Tyne watching The Shock of the New was incredible. It was like some amazing presence in the room. And he annoyed my dad as much as David Bowie did. I've tried to watch and read him whenever I can after that. I don't always agree with everything he says. But then I don't always agree with everything I say, either.

He has attacked Damien Hirst for being tacky and mercenary. More than that he has had the nerve to say Hirst is lacking in ability. Bless you, Robert Hughes, for I have had so many infuriating conversations with people who think his work is incredible (not that I suppose Hughes is going to change their minds).

We have allowed these creatures - Hirst and his fellow YBA cronies and others who came up in his slipstream - to inflate their own egos and bank accounts using public galleries, when at best the work is a dull rehash of Dada, Surrealism and Pop. The only reason there hasn't been more attacks like Hughes' is because the work is so thin, it has needed much interpretation by willing and friendly art critics who have the opportunity to spout the most ridiculous nonsense in its defence. It rides on a great belch of hot air. Hughes should be applauded, but he won't be. There is far too much vested interest involved in keeping these nonentities afloat.

Bizarrely it was Grayson Perry who the Observer managed to find in support of Hughes. We get the art we deserve, he said. This from a man whose work is shockingly, even aggressively average. But who cares - he dresses like a Shirly Temple! It almost guarantees him column inches in the press no matter what he does or says. Hirst is ten times the artist Perry will ever be.

I'm not sure what I've personally done to deserve artists like Perry and Hirst but whatever it was, I'm really, really sorry.


  1. Dear Chris

    My hubby and I have received both books to review from Bloomsbury and we are smitten - the writing is fab and the art is excellent. You guys form an excellent team!


    PS: Our blog is: .

  2. Hi Liz - thanks for that. Really glad you like the book and I'll have to check out your blog.