Thomas Mathew writes from London: Have you heard the bad news? Tate Modern, the gallery of modern and post-modern art, has supposedly recorded its highest number of visitors last year, something like 5.3 million. Similarly supposedly these numbers were boosted by the retrospective exhibition of Damien Hirst’s ‘works’, including such family favourites as his pickled shark and the rotting cow’s head, not forgetting the diamond-encrusted skull that goes under the tasteful title For The Love Of God.
Now, you can call me a cynic but I think that if Tate Modern were not primarily bankrolled by public money, it would have been forced to introduce paid admission and that would have cut down the numbers of visitors to the bone. In fact, I have a strong suspicion that Tate Modern might not have even lasted all that long, if not for the taxpayer keeping it afloat. Because not only does the building itself, an old power station that houses this collection of non-art, look hideous and resemble a crematorium but the vibe inside is extremely bad and the exhibits have about as much to do with art as the contents of a public toilet. In fact, a public toilet is of a much greater interest as it has an important purpose and when kept clean and refreshed is a joy to visit.
As for the Hirst exhibition that ran from April till September last year and has attracted something like half a million visitors, well, it just goes to prove that some people are easily satisfied with anything that they perceive as ‘art’. Mind you, it was a very clever trick to put Hirst into Tate Modern as part of the Olympic cultural thing, knowing perfectly well that the tourists, who would flock to London to watch the Olympics, were bound to pop into Tate Modern as it is included in the must-see list of locations by the London tourist board. So it was a win-win situation for that opportunist and his backers who have made a lot of money out of people’s stupidity.
I personally don’t go to Tate Modern anymore because I always got depressed when I visited it in the past. It‘s like entering a pagan temple that contains items that prove beyond any doubt that parts of humanity are moving backwards into stone age, losing all attributes of civilization on the way. It is barbarism, savagery, that are presented as progressive culture that some people can’t supposedly grasp. It is an attack on common sense that is funded by the public that seems to be blissfully unaware of what is going on.
The current recession has delivered a major blow to modern and post-modern art, sending prices through the floor. Hirst, who has supposedly enjoyed such great success in Tate Modern with his exhibition, is not doing all that well anymore. And even the new rich idiots, who have been buying his works in the past, are having second thoughts now. Many others in the business – because modern art is mostly about business – are failing to sell their works around the world and have to withdraw them from auctions. It is one of the positive sides to the economic downturn. Bad art is being wiped out despite what the critics say.
The best way to restore sanity in the art world is to introduce paid admission into all galleries, with concessions to students and pensioners and people on benefits. And then we’ll see proper art galleries continue to receive a steady flow of visitors while the likes of Tate Modern will fade into obscurity where they belong.
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