How I suffered for art’s sake



“When she was asked to be a Turner Prize judge for this year’s competition, Lynn Barber was thrilled. A year later, that has changed. On the eve of the 2006 show she reflects on how months of seeing banal and derivative work have left her depressed about the state of contemporary art in Britain.” - story

Highlights: “It always infuriates me when people claim to be art lovers just because they go to every Monet, Constable, Caravaggio exhibition and then make crappy jokes about unmade beds and pickled sharks.”

“At first, my friends were keen to accompany me, but they all tried it once and never again. The general reaction was incredulity that we’d driven through traffic jams for two hours in order to see a show consisting of three slabs of concrete and a tyre. ‘Is this all?’ was the usual plaint.”

“Galleries are incredibly resistant to the idea that they might in any sense welcome the public. If you are important, or if you just think you’re important, you ring the gallery beforehand to fix an appointment. If you wander in off the street, you are generally assumed to be a nutter and maybe you are. But then if you make an appointment, you have to be ‘talked through’ the exhibition by one of the galleristas, which is usually a pain, especially if you are looking at three slabs of concrete and a tyre.”

“Art dinners are odd affairs, usually held in private rooms of fashionable restaurants, for 30 or 40 people. It is never clear who is paying (though somebody is) or why you are there. Nobody is ever properly introduced, so you spend half the evening trying to work out who everyone is. I probably insulted people left and right by asking if they ran a gallery when they were, say, head of Italy’s national museums, but how are you supposed to know that stuff when nobody tells you?”