Kate Moss and the Death of British Art
Marc Quinn's sculpture of the supermodel was unveiled this week, the latest in a series of portraits of her by some of Britain's leading artists. So what does it tell us about contemporary art? That it is mediocre and enthralled by celebrity, says Jonathan Jones
The Guardian—A really bad artist can say something about the times in a way that often eludes genius. While the good artist gets lost in personal obsessions, the trite and sentimental hack has a way of showing us what we're all thinking. With his sculpture of Kate Moss, unveiled this week, Marc Quinn has done it again. And what he tells us is that we may as well put up our hands and confess that beneath our thin veil of modernism we remain an artistically conservative nation. British art has returned to its origins, we see on these pages. After all the sensations, after the brilliant careers and after the fire, we have arrived by some cyclical divine joke in 18th-century London, where portraiture is god and the leading artists of the day compete to depict Mary "Perdita" Robinson, Emma Hamilton—and Kate Moss.
A decade ago, when British art was interesting rather than merely famous, Gary Hume painted the first iconic portrait of Kate Moss in a Warholian mode—well, it was nearly iconic for nearly 15 minutes. It was based on a magazine image, and her face became a disturbing void. Hume's painting remains the best that has been done of her, because it is not soppy about its model....
Posted by DAVID EMERICK
Featured Comment by Ken Tanaka: "The contextual irony of placing such a story here is inescapable. Although this site is anything but a glamour photo venue it is the hoards of 'glam' shooters that made this woman, and her thousands of peers and predecessors, 'important' in the public eye. All to sell products wrapped in sex appeal.
"So why this writer should single out this particular artist's work as being emblematic of mundane British art baffles me. I suspect that on the day this story ran his paper had many pages of ads featuring Moss wannabes. Why not also bust the chops of the photographers that shot your paper's ads?
"The general subject of the boundaries between fine art, pop art, and advertising is so old that it's growing...Moss."
Featured Comment by Eolake Stobblehouse: "There are many aspects to consider in this story, about art, photography, and celebrity, as well as media. When all is said and done, though, one thought has to linger: Kate sure is limber. And at her age, too."