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Sticking It to British Art

View a multimedia slideshow about the Stuckist art movement

Rat Hanging by Charles Thomson
"Rat Hanging" by Charles Thomson. To see more examples of Stuckism, launch the multimedia slideshow.
Image courtesy Stuckism.com
 

July 16, 2001 -- The Stuckists are fed up with the contemporary British art scene. As NPR's Rick Karr reports from London, the group of painters -- who take their name from an insult hurled at a member -- says modern art in the UK is made by and for an elite clique.

The Stuckists say contemporary British artists are more interested in marketing themselves by shocking audiences than they are in expressing themselves.

The Stuckists have held exhibitions highlighting their own paintings, and their message. Some critics in the UK agree with the Stuckists and wonder whether government arts funding might have created an environment in which a few decision makers can set the agenda for all of contemporary British art.

The Stuckists take what media opportunities they can to attack the work of Britain's top contemporary artists, especially Damien Hirst, famous for displaying an embalmed sheep and opening a trendy restaurant in London; Chris Ofili, whose black Madonna adorned with elephant dung enraged New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1999 when it showed at the Brooklyn Museum of Art; and Tracey Emin, who once exhibited her own used bed in a gallery.

Pipe Smoker by Billy Childish
"Pipe Smoker" by Stuckist co-founder Billy Childish
Image courtesy Stuckism.com

Emin holds a special place in the Stuckist pantheon: She's known the group's co-founders, Childish and Charles Thomson, since the early '80s when all three were young performance poets.

Emin and Childish were a couple for years. Emin even named the group when she told Childish his art was "stuck, stuck, stuck." Childish left the Stuckists in May of this year, but he still shares their low opinion of most contemporary British art. Meanwhile, the Stuckists plan to protest this year's Turner Prize and co-founder Charles Thomson is running for Parliament on the Stuckist party ticket.

Web Resources:

The Stuckists' own home page, www.stuckism.com. Extensive collection of images, media information, philosophy and gossip.

Read the Stuckist manifesto.

Get more information about Stuckist co-founder Billy Childish, a critrically acclaimed poet, recording artist and painter.

The Guardian gears up to cover the 2001 Turner Prize.

General information on the Tate Gallery, which oversees the Turner Prize awards.