Saturday, September 16, 2006
Pass The Envelope, Please
As a general rule, I don't enter art competitions. They're against everything I love about art. I agree with Ron Radford, the director of the National Gallery of Australia, who says that prizes are "silly in cooking, and even more silly in art... a primitive device, borrowed from sport, which turns everything into winners and losers".He has a lot more to say in this recent Sydney Morning Herald interview.Of course Edmond Capon, the director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, promoter of the Australia's best-known art prize, the Archibald, disagrees, although his justification of the worthiness of this event is a little odd: "You don't have artists of the stature of John Olsen entering it, and relishing winning it, if it is not serious art."I think it has less to do with art than with brand promotion – for the gallery and the artist. Olsen has painted some extraordinary work, but little of it recently. Still, his name is recognizable and he's a popular character when it comes to the local media. He’s also more than happy to be gracious about the prize – now that he’s finally won. It amuses me that, in 1952, he was part of a group of art students who protested that fellow artist, William Dargie, had won too many times. One protester even tied a sign around her dog which said "Winner Archibald Prize - William Doggie". Art prizes really bring out the best in everyone.