The Artists of Tomorrow unveiled Today!

How weird is it for Damien Hirst, the most commercially successful artist on earth, to be judging teenage artists for a show held at an auction-house?

This makes Jack Tilton’s “School Days” show last spring look really responsible toward the educational process. I guess since galleries and arts schools are leery of auction houses, the only solution is to build up a relationship before the kids even go to art school….

Full Christies PR Release follows:

Exhibition of Britain’s Rising Arts Talent to be staged by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and Christie’s this September
National Art Competition and Exhibition
4 – 15 September 2006 All Welcome — Admission Free
Christie’s 8 King Street, St James’s, London, SW1Y 6QT

An exciting new national art exhibition will be staged in September at Christie’s auction house at King Street in London. The exhibition will be an unprecedented celebration of Britain’s up and coming artistic talent and will unveil a selection of the best artwork generated in Specialist Arts Schools and Academies across the country. Spanning the spectrum of two and three-dimensional visual arts, the exhibition at Christie’s will showcase the wealth of talent, the high calibre of work and the enthusiasm of students and staff working in Specialist Schools and Academies.

Over 80 works of art will be selected for the exhibition with two individual artworks chosen as the leading examples of the year’s submissions. The winning artworks will be in two age group categories: 14 – 16 and 16 – 19 year olds. They will be selected by a panel of leading figures in the art world as well as Christie’s experts. The judging panel for 2006 will be chaired by Damien Hirst.. The winners will be announced on 1 September 2006 at Christie’s.

“Christie’s are delighted to be launching this national competition and exhibition with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust”, said Edward Dolman, Chief Executive Officer, Christie’s International. “In the 18th century, our founder James Christie spearheaded the support and promotion of both young and established artists through his work in contemporary London. Today, in the 21st century and as global market leaders in the buying and selling of Contemporary Art, we feel a responsibility to support the creation of artworks in schools and to provide a new platform to encourage the artists of tomorrow in the vibrant art environment of today.”

Elizabeth Reid, Chief Executive of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, said:

“Specialist Arts Colleges and Academies nurture talented young artists and this competition will reward these students for their excellent work. By providing them with the chance to exhibit their artwork in a professional environment, we hope to encourage and identify the artists of the future. Specialist schools nurture their talent and this exciting exhibition, generously supported by Christie’s, provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase how well it is developing.”
Notes to Editors:

– Teachers were invited to initially submit up to five pieces of student work from each Specialist Arts School. Three are two age group categories: 14 – 16 and 16 – 19 year olds. No more than three pieces from either age group categories were submitted in digital format to the first selection panel.

– The two winners will receive  £1,500 each with  £500 awarded to the runner-up in each category. Each winner will also receive  £1,000 for their school.

– The eligible work ranged from drawings, paintings, prints, textiles and sculpture through to glass, animation or digital photography. Work may be grouped for display purposes in to common themes or displayed alongside artwork using similar media. However there is no prescriptive theme or category for the submission of work.

– From the original submissions, two hundred commended works have been put forward by SSAT to the judging panel. Schools were notified of this first panel decision in June 2006 and asked to prepare selected work for collection for delivery to Christie’s in July.

– In August 2006, the official panel of judges choose a Winner and Runner up in each of the two age group categories. The awarding panel will be made up of leading figures in the art world including Christie’s specialists as well as representatives from the SSAT. The panel of judges will be chaired by Damien Hirst, and also includes critic and writer for The Art Newspaper, Louisa Buck.

– The works chosen for the exhibition will be announced in August 2006.

– The exhibition will be unveiled on 4 September 2006 and the winners will be presented with their awards at a special ceremony.

– During the exhibition a series of student workshops will run in conjunction with the Young@Art department at The University of the Arts London. Students will be invited to visit the exhibition and discuss the alternative methods and outcomes used in response to themes and topics. Practical workshops will follow in the university building. Students and their teachers will have the opportunity to work with practicing artists / lecturers from the fine art department to explore related media and materials.

– The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust is the leading national body for secondary education in England, part funded by the DfES, delivering the Government’s Specialist Schools and Academies programme. The Government’s aim is that by 2010 all schools will be specialist or academies. The Trust seeks to give more young people access to a good secondary education by building networks, sharing practice and supporting schools. The Trust’s way of working is based on the principle ‘by schools for schools’. There are over 3,000 schools affiliated to the Trust including primary, secondary and special schools and Academies.

7 thoughts on “The Artists of Tomorrow unveiled Today!”

  1. A lovely if sad indictment of how the Art World is barreling along at the moment. No checks and balances. No acceptable authority. Fame and market price being the only determinants of value.

    But then who are we to pass judgement? Maybe Hirst is the new standard for market guidance for young aspiring artists…. %-)

  2. On the scale of things this seems pretty benign to me. It’s more likely to be yet another publicity stunt for Hearst than a sinister move into uncharted turf for Christie’s — rather like tractor maker John Deere hosting a convivial competition of oversized vegetables from the nation’s farms, overseen by leading botanists and superstar chefs.

  3. Sure, except that over-sized vegetables have no say in their eventual modes of commercialization.

    From the admittedly subjective standpoint of the art galleries that one day might represent these kids, I’m sure this looks something like holding a child beauty pageant at the Playboy Mansion. Okay, that was inflammatory, but you get my drift…

  4. And there you have a point. I think you can take it in two ways:

    a./ As a visual arts organization that reaps lots of profit from this area, Christie’s should do its part to encourage amateur art-making and throw a spotlight on it. (I gather this is being done in conjunction with some sort of organization devoted to this cause). Would we be against, for example, the auction houses setting up a fund from their vast profits to support art education in schools? I wonder. I guess you could say that would be analogous in some way to pharmaceutical companies promoting the teaching of chemistry and biology, or subsidizing research — controversial to be sure, but also understandable and, with the right oversight, something that can be kept within the bounds of the acceptable.

    b./ One could also say that any kind of involvement of the auction houses is completely unacceptable. But on what grounds would the galleries make this case? Are they not also seeking to make a bundle off the sale of young artists? Are they not also financially invested in this kind of field replenishment? And have you ever seen dealers do any such thing, and if they did, would it not also seem similarly untoward to some?

    I think this is rather like the case of that passage Marc pointed out to me in Olav Velthuis’s book, where behavior observed from one rung below the art-world ladder always seems sinister. So, seen from a gallerist’s perspective, this Christie’s event looks like a toddler beauty pageant in the Playboy Mansion (nice image, Marc). But seen from a nonprofit perspective, Jack Tilton was the same thing.

    So the real question, it seems to me, is: Can commercial entities with a stake in the future of artists support these kinds of educational efforts? This gets you way deep into the whole question of the art world as a big professional industry. The old, romantic, tribal art world would not allow such mingling and contamination — we’re talking Montagues and Capulets. But in the global, big, professional art world, are not the auction houses simply borrowing from the playbook of modern business by supporting such PR activities?

    The firewalls are coming down all over the place, so the question in my mind is what kind of ethical regulation will replace them.

  5. Hmmm. Lots of points in that post.

    I think big-supporting-small and commercial-supporting-amateur (if would be commercial) is all fine, if done well, with care and insight. Drug companies supporting medical education and driving prescription practice is straight-forward conflict of interest, but difficult for hard pressed medical schools to turn down.

    This is different. Here we have a commercially successful, so-called fine artist, being touted by one of the two most powerful sales entities in the Art Universe as an appropriate arbiter of taste and style to young would-be artists. There are two problems with this:
    1) Christies should be more careful about whom it promotes to the impressionable; no pun intended. (What it does in the open market with consenting adults is another matter entirely.)
    2) Rare is the artist worthy of being listened to about the art world he or she inhabits. Even rarer: An artist of such ability able to be in any way impartial about said world.

    So I guess I am arguing that it isn’t a wonderful thing. Having said that I accept that this will probably play more as a celebrity love-in to the students concerned, and as a publicity stunt for Christies in the press. Neither of which is worthy of much serious comment; but Marc did ask the question…..!

  6. These conversations are clarifying in so far as they point to much murkiness on the playing field. With the lines between art and commerce ever shifting, the question is who will think through the ethics. Christie’s et. al. are charging forward at warp speed. The ultimate aim of this exercise, I think, is to clarify some rules for the art world in a new age, rules that deal with present-day realities but also are mindful of the special situation of art. Maybe you’re right and the real issue in this (fairly harmless) venture for Christie’s is not the relationship of the auction house to the older or younger artists, but that it puts someone like Hirst, of all people, in the position of holy arbiter of art.

  7. In many ways today’s Art market resembles the helter-skelter way that China is growing. People (including the powers that be – the government in China’s case) are making things up as they go along. We probably shouldn’t worry. ” In the long run” as economists are fond of saying, things tend to sort themselves out. And in the short run one can either try to correct, or advise (whilst being careful not to create additional distortions with the advice and/or corrections) or one can observe and then try to take advantage of the existing distortions. I prefer to do the latter, but occasionally find myself being sucked in to doing the former. %-)

    Time to go shopping with the family. A major adventure as newcomers in Beijing.

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