Thursday, October 18The Voice of London

Question of the day: Is contemporary art futile?

When contemporary art presents us with a giant, golden bottom, do we immediately think, “I get it. I like it. I understand it, because I too have a big bottom” or do we disassociate with it and say, “This is dumb”?

Reporter: Holly Patrick | Sub-Editor: Cecilia Peruzzi

Mans Bottom by Anthea Hamilton | (Holly Patrick)
Mans Bottom by Anthea Hamilton | (Holly Patrick)

It is universally agreed that art is subjective, yet this doesn’t stop us from gasping when a friend you believe to be culturally experienced remarks that they simply don’t like a given piece.

Left open to interpretation, The Voice of London asked six opinionated people on their views of contemporary art.


Luke, 24, painter and sculptorFullSizeRender-6

Voice of London: Do you think contemporary art is futile?

Luke: No! It’s the same as old art, it is just cultural reflections of the now.

Do you think contemporary artists have a lot of talent?

Yes I think so, but it depends on what market they are producing and selling their work for. The whole money thing has fucked it up.

What’s the money thing?

The amount of money in contemporary art; the dilemma is that the artist has to work with the gallery. So it’s almost like they’re the record label and then the artist is the musician and they have to conform to what the label wants. And then there’s the five minutes of fame artists — the one trick pony. They find something that works and is aesthetically appealing and they will just replicate that in a partially different way, because they know they will get money for it. That’s not art.


Poppy, 20, advertising studentFullSizeRender

Voice of London: Do you think contemporary art is futile?

Poppy: It depends what it’s doing; if it’s part of a stunt or has actual thought and meaning behind it then yes, but if someone has just painted a picture with no thought, then no.

Who is your favourite artist?

The one that did that bed thing, ya’ know?

Tracey Emin?

Yes, I thought she was really significant in the piece about her bed. It was really relatable.

On what level did you relate to it?

Well they were her personal belongings; stuff that mattered to her. We all have things that we cherish. It’s just more exiting than old art to me, anyway. Old art is bland and contemporary art is like wow.

Would you ever buy a very expensive, one off piece by Tracy Emin even if you didn’t like it?

Only if it was clearly identifiable as a piece of Tracey Emin work. Like when you’re wearing a Comme des Garçons top and everyone knows it is that make… kinda thing.


Kitty, 21, fine art student


Voice of London: Is contemporary art futile?

Kitty: I can see how contemporary art can be perceived as futile but it isn’t. It builds the world around us and is an influence on our culture today just like music, dance or cinema is. Art helps to sculpt different times and can influence different things like architecture.

If you could create like anyone, who would it be?

I would like to be able to create like Martin Creed. Only because he has fun with his work and is mad enough to do whatever he wants, like his ball of paper. He screwed up paper and made 600 of them and sells each for nearly £200. His excuse for making these was because he thought it would be funny. It was a good enough idea to make him want to get out of bed in the morning. He also made a piece which consisted of arm chairs sat on each other, just because he thinks chairs sometimes want to sit down too.

Do you think it’s easier to be accepted as a modern artist than it was so be accepted as an artist from the romantic era?

There is definitely still a stigma against artists and unless someone is a creative, it can be pretty hard to understand why we do what we do! Artists help bring humour and brightness to the world. Our job is often to sit back and reflect on the bad things that happen in the world, creating a voice and questioning what is right and wrong! It often also involves a lot of politics. Today a lot of the artist’s work is based mainly on thinking and the idea behind the work. The actual pieces of work are normally worthless but it’s more about the idea behind the work.

Who is your favourite artist?

Gabriele de Santis! He uses a lot of contemporary techniques but you can see he is influenced heavily by the renaissance period. He mixes two art periods and creates a playful world in between.


Hannah, 20, public relations student


Voice of London: Do you think contemporary art is futile?

Hannah: No not at all, I really appreciate all art. Even though I’m not very arty, I am still creative, not in the drawing sense, but I can value others’ work.

Have you been to see any contemporary art recently?

No I haven’t, but last semester I went to see the graduate show at university and there were potatoes everywhere. It was cool but a bit confusing.

Do you think there is any meaning behind the potatoes?

I’m not sure really, maybe it symbolised the Irish potato famine.

So you don’t think you have to understand art to appreciate it?

I don’t really understand it at all unless there is a little description plaque beside it. But for me that’s not really the point in art. You can go and see a landscape portrait by Van Gogh and know it’s a garden, but with contemporary art it’s really about interpretation.


Loz, 30, Westminster University voluntary chaplain


Voice of London: Do you think contemporary art is futile?

Loz: No.

Would you like to expand your point?

You shouldn’t ask yes or no questions. Contemporary art is such a broad area, I would agree that some of it is rubbish [nervous laughs].

Do you think it is more difficult to be accepted as an artist nowadays?

My friends who are artists have a very hard time making ends meet. Art is so broad and subjective; there are so many varieties. If you don’t do what people enjoy, you won’t sell it.

Do you have a favourite artist?

Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin. Not because they’re great, they’re just the first ones that popped in to my head.

So they made you remember them?

I think their publicity teams probably did.


Charlotte, 19, musician


Voice of London: Do you think contemporary art is futile?

Charlotte: I don’t think it’s pointless, people get to do what they want these days, so just let them do it.

If you could create like anyone who would it be?

I’m a creative myself, so I would just create the way I already do. But I do like make-up so I guess I could improve on that. It is a form of art in itself.

What is your favourite form of contemporary art?

Even though they have been around for centuries, I really like tattoos. I have a few myself. They are a great way to express your emotions and who you are.

The voices of London have spoken and confirmed that although they don’t believe contemporary art to be entirely futile, it can sometimes be difficult to comprehend and appreciate. But art is subjective, is it not?


Thanks guys!