you are stuck!
Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!
The Stuckists are a group of anti-conceptual artists set up in 1999. And these people embarrass me.
Here is their original 1999 manifesto (bolds are original):
Against conceptualism, hedonism and the cult of the ego-artist.
1. Stuckism is the quest for authenticity. By removing the mask of cleverness and admitting where we are, the Stuckist allows him/herself uncensored expression.
2. Painting is the medium of self-discovery. It engages the person fully with a process of action, emotion, thought and vision, revealing all of these with intimate and unforgiving breadth and detail.
3. Stuckism proposes a model of art which is holistic. It is a meeting of the conscious and unconscious, thought and emotion, spiritual and material, private and public. Modernism is a school of fragmentation — one aspect of art is isolated and exaggerated to detriment of the whole. This is a fundamental distortion of the human experience and perpetrates an egocentric lie.
4. Artists who don’t paint aren’t artists.
5. Art that has to be in a gallery to be art isn’t art.
6. The Stuckist paints pictures because painting pictures is what matters.
7. The Stuckist is not mesmerised by the glittering prizes, but is wholeheartedly engaged in the process of painting. Success to the Stuckist is to get out of bed in the morning and paint.
8. It is the Stuckist’s duty to explore his/her neurosis and innocence through the making of paintings and displaying them in public, thereby enriching society by giving shared form to individual experience and an individual form to shared experience.
9. The Stuckist is not a career artist but rather an amateur (amare, Latin, to love) who takes risks on the canvas rather than hiding behind ready-made objects (e.g. a dead sheep). The amateur, far from being second to the professional, is at the forefront of experimentation, unencumbered by the need to be seen as infallible. Leaps of human endeavour are made by the intrepid individual, because he/she does not have to protect their status. Unlike the professional, the Stuckist is not afraid to fail.
10. Painting is mysterious. It creates worlds within worlds, giving access to the unseen psychological realities that we inhabit. The results are radically different from the materials employed. An existing object (e.g. a dead sheep) blocks access to the inner world and can only remain part of the physical world it inhabits, be it moorland or gallery. Ready-made art is a polemic of materialism.
11. Post Modernism, in its adolescent attempt to ape the clever and witty in modern art, has shown itself to be lost in a cul-de-sac of idiocy. What was once a searching and provocative process (as Dadaism) has given way to trite cleverness for commercial exploitation. The Stuckist calls for an art that is alive with all aspects of human experience; dares to communicate its ideas in primeval pigment; and possibly experiences itself as not at all clever!
12. Against the jingoism of Brit Art and the ego-artist. Stuckism is an international non-movement.
13. Stuckism is anti ‘ism’. Stuckism doesn’t become an ‘ism’ because Stuckism is not Stuckism, it is stuck!
14. Brit Art, in being sponsored by Saachis, main stream conservatism and the Labour government, makes a mockery of its claim to be subversive or avant-garde.
15. The ego-artist’s constant striving for public recognition results in a constant fear of failure. The Stuckist risks failure wilfully and mindfully by daring to transmute his/her ideas through the realms of painting. Whereas the ego-artist’s fear of failure inevitably brings about an underlying self-loathing, the failures that the Stuckist encounters engage him/her in a deepening process which leads to the understanding of the futility of all striving. The Stuckist doesn’t strive — which is to avoid who and where you are — the Stuckist engages with the moment.
16. The Stuckist gives up the laborious task of playing games of novelty, shock and gimmick. The Stuckist neither looks backwards nor forwards but is engaged with the study of the human condition. The Stuckists champion process over cleverness, realism over abstraction, content over void, humour over wittiness and painting over smugness.
17. If it is the conceptualist’s wish to always be clever, then it is the Stuckist’s duty to always be wrong.
18. The Stuckist is opposed to the sterility of the white wall gallery system and calls for exhibitions to be held in homes and musty museums, with access to sofas, tables, chairs and cups of tea. The surroundings in which art is experienced (rather than viewed) should not be artificial and vacuous.
19. Crimes of education: instead of promoting the advancement of personal expression through appropriate art processes and thereby enriching society, the art school system has become a slick bureaucracy, whose primary motivation is financial. The Stuckists call for an open policy of admission to all art schools based on the individual’s work regardless of his/her academic record, or so-called lack of it.
We further call for the policy of entrapping rich and untalented students from at home and abroad to be halted forthwith.
We also demand that all college buildings be available for adult education and recreational use of the indigenous population of the respective catchment area. If a school or college is unable to offer benefits to the community it is guesting in, then it has no right to be tolerated.
20. Stuckism embraces all that it denounces. We only denounce that which stops at the starting point — Stuckism starts at the stopping point!
The following have been proposed to the Bureau of Inquiry for possible inclusion as Honorary Stuckists:
Vincent van Gogh
First published by The Hangman Bureau of Enquiry
11 Boundary Road, Chatham, Kent ME4 6TS
Where to begin? I think perhaps with two of their most ludicrous lines: #4 #5. Apparently, sculptors aren't artists, and installation art is a misnomer. I understand where they are coming from, however: an era of skyrocketing art prices, questionable talent and the passing off of what is lazy and boring as insightful. But at the same time, I find the Stuckists to be a remarkably conservative group, and one that seems to deny any existential nature to audienceship. By that I mean they have a rather narrow focus in what can be worthy of thought: the best conceptual artists allow you to look at things in a brand new way, appreciating the beauty of things that we often ignore. I'm thinking of Rachel Whiteread, who according to the Stuckists' manifesto, would be a corporate lackey who makes piles of plaster. The Stuckists, who appear to be a populist group, would probably like to ignore the fact that Whiteread's work is often well loved by the public and her humble nature.
But point #16 strikes me as hugely hypocritical. Simply look at some Stuckist works and you'll see that this point does not apply. Many of their works are shrill, reactionary and eye-rollingly sarcastic. And what of their displays at the Turner awards, dressing up like clowns? That isn't a gimmick?
Charles Thomson, Sir Nicholas Serota Makes an Acquisitions Decision. 2000.
For an art movement that claims to bring back the soul to art, they are doing a very poor job. And for a group that is claiming to be anti-conceptual art, they are doing a very good job at being just that: conceptual art.