03 August 2005

stuckists stuck with paintings

THE Tate was accused yesterday of snubbing one of Britain’s foremost collections after it rejected a gift of 160 paintings that had been given pride of place at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Its director, Sir Nicholas Serota, said that the works did not deserve to be in a national collection, even though their five-month exhibition last autumn drew thousands of people to the Walker, one of the outstanding collections of fine art in Europe and part of National Museums Liverpool.

The works were painted by the Stuckists, an international group of artists founded in 1999 to promote traditional artistry, looking to the Old Masters for inspiration. Experts said that the artists had “inaugurated the rebirth of spirituality and meaning in art, culture and society”, with their works worth £500,000, but the Tate was less than impressed.

Sir Nicholas wrote to the Stuckists, who offered the gift: “We do not feel that the work is of sufficient quality in terms of accomplishment, innovation or originality of thought to warrant preservation in perpetuity in the national collection.”

Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Stuckists, called the decision “a massive snub”. Noting the exhibition’s success, he added: “It shows the Tate is completely out of line with the rest of the country and the public, whose money it spends on things the public don’t want.”

The Stuckists were named after Tracey Emin told her former boyfriend, Billy Childish, a co-founder, that he was “stuck”

They carried a coffin proclaiming “the death of conceptual art” and turned up on Turner Prize night dressed as clowns

Their paintings include Thomson’s caricature of Sir Nicholas looking at red knickers asking whether they were “genuine Emin” or “a worthless fake

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