We posed this and the other four key Great British Art Debate questions to our keen debate fiends over on facebook. Here are some of their thoughts:
What is British art? Is it art made by artists born in Britain? Because a lot of British artists live and work in Berlin or New York or in other places. Is art made by artists who live in Britain? A lot of those artists aren’t British by origin but they live here and produce work here. Is it a certain style of art, or art that deals with particularly British topics?
– AT, Facebook
I think British Art is a cultural state of mind. It’s always been a bit ‘punk’, a bit ‘out there’, more self-deprecating. Coronation St has been on our TVs for 50 years and we like a cup of tea. No other country could produce a Grayson Perry. Or a Morrissey. And I don’t think we’d have heard of Leigh Bowery had he not moved to the UK.
– IM, Facebook
‘British art’ is not particularly mysterious. People on these islands have been making all sorts of things that we now call ‘art’ for a few thousand years. We can use the phrase ‘British art’ as a useful shorthand for all this stuff. Do all these things share anything in common – some inherent ‘Britishness’? No. To believe they do is certainly a fantasy – or better, a delusion. Is it a peculiarly British delusion? Err … Well, I’m not entirely sure what the question means but I think the answer is once again ‘No’. British people are certainly not unique among nations in their predilection for discerning a spurious, trans-historical, national ‘character’ within their endlessly diverse heritage.
– AP, Facebook
Yes, but then again Britishness is a British fantasy! We like to think that we can detect essential British characteristics in the paintings and sculptures which happen to be produced here- but I think of it as a ‘Birds of Britain’ question….. yes, there are plenty of sparrows in Britain, so sparrows are a very British bird, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get sparrows elswhere….
– Martin Myrone, Tate Curator
What do you think?