“Why talented artists are leaving fine art behind”

Alexander Adams

Alexander Adams

Alexander Adams is an artist, critic and poet, based in the UK. He writes art criticism for The Critic, Standpoint, Apollo, Burlington Magazine, Print Quarterly, Printmaking Today, The Jackdaw and other publications. He publishes articles on censorship and free speech, as well as book reviews, on Spiked-Online.

“Imagine that you are young and you have a passion for a sport, say, javelin throwing. You watch videos of javelin competitions. You buy your own javelin and throw it in a nearby field for hours every day. You then join a javelin club with expectations of becoming a professional sportsman. But the club is not what you expect.

“Club members don’t seem to practice javelin throwing much. And they not only admit members who don’t throw javelins, but they also actively dislike javelins and javelin-throwers. They call javelin-throwers supporters of racial oppression and reactionary politics. You stop going to the club, regretting that you devoted so much energy to the pastime.

“It sounds odd but that’s not far from the situation in fine art. If you love making skilful images of figures, objects and landscapes, it is highly likely that members of your profession will sneer at you – at worst, you will be accused of upholding exclusionary standards. Even art tutors struggle to teach the skills now because they themselves have not been taught them.

“So when using skill to depict worlds in two dimensions in the field of fine art is deemed suspect, where do traditional art-makers go? The new book, Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration, which explores the diverse and dynamic art that comprises fantasy illustration, provides a hint….”

Read the full review on Spiked here.