Charles Thomson (I’m assuming it’s really him, but since I’ve been following the US election on Twitter my ability to distinguish trolls and sock puppets and non-specific pranksters from the real deal has completely evaporated) has responded to a passing mention I made of him in a post about Damien Hirst’s new piece in Ilfracombe:
I not only existed, but was exhibiting art, performing poetry and staging events, when Damien Hirst was still at primary school. I can assure you that I was not in the slightest annoyed by Hirst at this time, as I had never heard of him.
...to which I responded that yes, I accept all that, but my reference was specifically to Stuckism, the movement for which he’s become the de facto spokesman and as far as I know that didn’t come into existence until the late 1990s, by which Hirst and his chums were pretty well embedded in the public consciousness. No YBAs/BritArt/New Conceptualism, no Stuckism. This doesn’t reflect on Thomson’s own talents as an artist; I rather like his fusions of Pop Art and Expressionism to be honest, certainly more than I care for most of Hirst’s vapid gestures. But the fact remains that when Thomson appears in mainstream media, it’s more likely to be as part of a story about Hirst’s art than Thomson’s. Stuckists have become defined by what they’re not rather than what they are or what they do; in effect, they’re critics rather than artists, the provisional wing of Jackdaw magazine. I’m not saying this is an ideal state of affairs, or fair, or a good thing in terms of art, but that’s how it is. In hindsight, art historians may well come to agree that the Saatchi/Serota generation was an enormous, bloated con trick and Thomson and his gang were right all along but – notwithstanding the recent critical kicking that Hirst’s had in some quarters – the not-so-Young-any-more British Artists are still on top right now.
Put it this way, Charles: most Express readers probably loathe Damien Hirst and his works and everything he and they stand for; until they’d read the article I was discussing, most Express readers had no opinion about you or your work, because they’d never heard of you. We’re in Oscar Wilde territory here; which would you prefer to be?