The Olympic art of shooting fish in a barrel

Regular readers of will know that I love modern art… mainly because it gives me a chance to be sarcastic and rude about the complete tripe that some people produce. Usually I turn my barbed wit upon the Turner Prize, but as luck would have it another group of artists has provided some ammo. Taking the Michael out of art is often like shooting fish in a barrel, but this occasion it’s like shooting dead fish in a small barrel at point blank range with a long-muzzled revolver.

I saw this story featured on the BBC news yesterday morning, and it’s also featured on their web site:

A series of 12 Olympic and Paralympic posters, designed by leading UK artists including Tracey Emin and Chris Ofili, has been unveiled in London.

Most of my vitriol towards modern art is based on the simple fact that once an artist becomes well-known or gains a reputation they can produce any old load of tosh and have art critics falling over themselves to praise the genius of the works. And here we go again. I’m going to pick on three works in particular, for no better reason than if I hadn’t been told otherwise I could easily mistake them for something a five year-old would proudly bring home from a school art lesson.

  1. Work No. 1273 by Martin Creed – a blue block on top of a slighter bigger pink block, on top of a slighter bigger black block… then yellow, then green. Mr Creed said the shape represents an extended podium. It must have taken him all of five minutes, including washing the brushes. By the way, Martin Creed is a Turner Prize winner, responsible for the exhibit where lights were turned on and off. Say no more.
  2. Rachel Whiteread’s work representing the famous Olympic rings. To create the same effect, ask a five year-old to place the bottom of a mug in some red paint and then stamp it on a sheet of paper… and then repeat using green, yellow, blue and black paint. According the BBC site, organisers said the stains act as “memories of a social gathering”. No they don’t. They serve of memories of art lessons at primary school and coming home with paint on your shirt. Having said that, this work of art would make a nice design for a tea-towel.
  3. Howard Hodgkin’s swimming artwork – this is my ‘favourite’ because the art critic on the BBC news was particularly sycophantic about this one, talking about the painting’s chaos and energy. Mr Hodgkin himself describes the work as “representational pictures of emotional situations”. The Beeb point out that a figure in ‘the water’ (or the splattering of royal blue paint) can just about be made out. Shame that it looks more like a toad than a human. Maybe Mr Hodgkin will come clean and admit that one of his grand-children knocked this one off in three minutes at nursery.

Just to prove that I’m not always negative about art, take a look at Michael Craig-Martin’s work (the word ‘Go’ on a stopwatch). It’s artistic and relevant to the subject, and would look good on a canvas. So I declare him the winner. As for the rest of them, the genius is not in the actual artistic skill, but in the ability of the artist to create something which allows us, the mere mortals, to use our own imaginations to interpret something meaningful related to the subject. Or something like that.


  1. Really ! That is the best the cream of the British Art community can come up with for one of the most significant events to happen in the UK for decades. Some stripes, Tracy Emin’s note to her mum, feet and the best of all, Howard’s blue splodge. Men should not paint themselves blue and writhe naked on paper and present it as an Olympic poster.

    Now I have a poster on my wall from Ikea that would make a way better Olympic Poster than any of them. Just write “London 2012” on it and there you go. And all for fifty bucks.

    Shame on you Artists

  2. I am guessing that you have to actually produce a worthwhile piece of art before you can actually pass off crap to the sycophants. Otherwise we’d all be doing it.

    By the way, I hope everyone is looking forward to my latest work. Doggy Doo in an empty Marmalade Jar. It is entitled ” The Occupation of Wall Street “. It is a scathing comment on big business in the USA.
    A snip at $50,000. Any offers ?

  3. I’m going to enter a piece for the Turner Prize next year. I’m going to glue a turnip to a dead badger to illustrate the struggle between the agricultural industry and the native wildlife that finds its natural habitat taken over by man’s desire to be fed. And I’ll paint the badger’s arse blue to symbolise something else… haven’t decided what yet, but it’ll be really clever and art critics everywhere will applaud my genius.

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