Oh, the Arrogance!

The always interesting Art Review has published the following story:

After an unpleasant fall-out with the University of Edinburgh, prominent Scottish artist Douglas Gordon has vowed never to accept a public commission in Scotland again, reports the Independent.  Gordon was to create a site-specific work for the redevelopment of the library at the University of Edinburgh, which opened this Autumn. The artist proposed to inscribe the words “Every time you turn a page, it dies a little” in gold lettering on the walls, but the words were felt to be too negative for the library and the artist pulled out, partly in response to his treatment by the institution …  “Many artists are treated disrespectfully by the institutions they are making commissions for,” he said. “Most think they cannot afford to say no, but I can, so I had to.” Gordon said … he was “humiliated”, and would “never again accept a public commission in my home country”.

I believe entirely in artistic freedom.  But I happen to believe that artistic freedom includes the right of a commissioning institution to say that an artist’s proposal is unsuitable for the particular site or use.  Douglas Gordon obviously disagrees.  His loud-mouthed petulance does artists in general a disservice and gives us all a bad name.

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