Reference Library: Stuckism
'Stuckism' is an art movement that was founded in 1999 in Britain by Billy Childish and Charles Thomson to promote figurative painting in opposition to conceptual art. The Stuckists formed as an alternative to the Charles Saatchi-patronised Young British Artists (also known as Brit Art). The original group of thirteen artists has since expanded to over 120 groups around the world. Childish left the group in 2001.
They have staged many shows, but have gained more attention for outspoken media comments and demonstrations, particularly outside Tate Britain against the Turner Prize, sometimes dressed in clown costume. After exhibiting mainly in small galleries in Shoreditch, London, they were given their first show in a major public museum in 2004, The Walker Art Gallery as part of the Liverpool Biennial.
Other campaigns mounted by the group include official avenues, such as standing for parliament, reporting Saatchi to the Office of Fair Trading to complain about his power in the art world, and applying under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for Tate Gallery trustee minutes, which started a media scandal about the purchase of Chris Ofili's work, The Upper Room.
The name Stuckism was coined by Thomson in response to a comment, made by artist Tracey Emin to Childish, then her boyfriend, which he had recorded in a poem as:
:Your paintings are stuck,
:you are stuck!
:Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!
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Most of the members of the first thirteen-strong Stuckists group founded in 1999 had been in collaboration for up to two decades previously, and in 1979 had formed The Medway Poets, which included later Stuckists Bill Lewis and Sexton Ming.
Other members of the first Stuckists group were Philip Absolon, Frances Castle, Sheila Clark, Eamon Everall, Ella Guru (now married to Sexton Ming), Wolf Howard, Sanchia Lewis (no relation to Bill Lewis), Joe Machine and Charles Williams.
The group are defined by their Stuckists manifesto, written by Childish and Thomson in 1999, that places great importance on the value of painting as a medium, as well as the use of it for communication and the expression of emotion and experience - as opposed to what they see as the superficial novelty, nihilism and irony of conceptual art and postmodernism.
The most contentious statement in their manifesto is: "Artists who don't paint aren't artists".
In a second manifesto, the Stuckists declared that they aimed to replace postmodernism with Remodernism, a period of renewed spiritual (as opposed to religious) values in art, culture and society.
Other manifestos include An Open Letter to Sir Nicholas Serota (which received a brief reply from him), The Turner Prize, The Decrepitude of the Critic, and Handy Hints.
In January 1999, the first Stuckists group was co-founded by Thomson and Childish with 10 other artists (Sanchia Lewis became the 13th member in September during the first show).
Founding artist Ella Guru started the Stuckist web site.
In July 1999, the Stuckists were first mentioned in the media, in an article in The Evening Standard and quickly gained other coverage , helped by fervid press interest in Tracey Emin who had been nominated for the Turner Prize. They have continued to gain media coverage since.
The Stuckists have staged numerous exhibitions of their work, starting in September 1999 with Stuck! Stuck! Stuck! in Joe Crompton's Gallery 108 (now defunct) in Shoreditch, and The Resignation of Sir Nicholas Serota. In 2000 they gained attention by staging The Real Turner Prize Show at the same time as the Tate Gallery's official version.
Thomson stood as a Stuckist candidate for the 2001 British General Election, in the constituency of Islington South, against Chris Smith, the then Secretary of State for Culture. He picked up 108 votes (0.4%).
From 2002 to 2005 Thomson ran the Stuckism International Centre and Gallery in Shoreditch, London. In 2003, under the title ''A Dead Shark Isn't Art'', the gallery exhibited a shark which had first been put on public display in 1989 (two years before Damien Hirst's) by Eddie Saunders in his Shoreditch shop, JD Electrical Supplies. It was suggested Hirst may have seen this at the time and copied it, but that anyway Saunders was the real pioneering artist.
In 2003 they reported Charles Saatchi to the UK Office of Fair Trading, complaining that he had an effective monopoly on art. The complaint was not upheld.
In 2003 an allied group Stuckism Photography was founded by Larry Dunstan and Andy Bullock.
In 2005 the Stuckists offered a donation of 175 paintings from the Walker show to the Tate. This was rejected by the Tate Board of Trustees.
In August 2005 the Stuckists initiated a major controversy over the Tate's purchase of its trustee Chris Ofili's work The Upper Room for £705,000.
The Stuckists gained significant media coverage for five years of protests (2000-2004) outside Tate Britain against the Turner Prize, sometimes dressed as clowns. In 2001 they demonstrated in Trafalgar Square at the unveiling of Rachel Whiteread's Monument. In 2002, they carried a coffin marked The Death of Conceptual Art to the White Cube Gallery. In 2004 outside the launch of The Triumph of Painting at the Saatchi Gallery they wore tall hats with Charles Saatchi's face on and carried placards claiming that Saatchi had copied their ideas. In 2005 they protested outside the Turner Prize against the purchase of Ofili's The Upper Room.
Events outside Britain have included The Clown Trial of President Bush held in New Haven in 2003 to protest against the Iraq War. Michael Dickinson has exhibited political and satirical collages in Turkey.
The Stuckists Punk Victorian
The Stuckists Punk Victorian was the first national gallery exhibition of Stuckist art. It was held at the Walker Art Gallery and Lady Lever Art Gallery and was part of the 2004 Liverpool Biennial. It consisted of over 250 paintings by 37 artists, mostly from the UK but also with a representation of international Stuckist artists from the US, Germany and Australia. There was an accompanying exhibition of Stuckist photographers. A book, The Stuckists Punk Victorian, was published to accompany the exhibition.
An international symposium on Stuckism is booked for October 2006 at the Liverpool John Moores University during the Liverpool Biennial. The programme will be led by Naive John, founder of the Liverpool Stuckists. There will be an accompanying exhibition in the 68 Hope Gallery at Liverpool School of Art and Design (John Moores University Gallery).
The Stuckists have grown to an international movement and by 2006 numbered 138 (affiliated but independent) groups in 34 countries—arguably the first significant movement to have spread via the internet.
In October 2000, Regan Tamanui founded the Melbourne Stuckists,[http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/exhibitions/stuckists/international/] the fourth Stuckist group to be started and the first one outside the UK. On October 27, 2000, he staged the Real Turner Prize Show at the Dead End Gallery in his home, concurrent with three shows with the same title in England (London, Falmouth and Dartington), and one in Germany, in protest against the Tate Gallery's Turner Prize. Other Australian Stuckists include Godfrey Blow.
in 2000, Susan Constance founded the first US group The Pittsburgh Stuckists—the second group to be founded outside the UK. This was announced in the Pittsburgh Weekly (November 1 2000): "The new word in art is Stuckism. A Stuckist paints their life, mind and soul with no pretensions and no excuses."[http://www.stuckism.com/StuckistMediaAppearances.doc] By 2006 there were 21 US Stuckist groups. There have been Stuckist shows and demonstrations in the US, and American Stuckists have also exhibited in international Stuckist shows abroad. US Stuckists include Jeffrey Scott Holland, Tony Juliano, Frank Kozik, Terry Marks and Jesse Richards.
The mainstay of the Stuckists has been in the UK, where by 2006 there were 63 groups. Artists include Elsa Dax, Paul Harvey, Naive John, Jane Kelly, Emily Mann, Peter McArdle, Peter Murphy and Guy Denning. John Bourne opened Stuckism Wales at his home, a permanent exhibition of (mainly Welsh) paintings. A regular guest artist, Mandy McCartin. Mark D is a new affiliate.
Stuckists outside the UK include artists such as Peter Klint, Mary von Stockhausen, Andreas Torneberg, Frank Christopher Schroeder (Germany), Odysseus Yakoumakis (Greece) and Michael Dickinson (Turkey).
A "Students for Stuckism" group was founded in 2000 by students from Camberwell College of Arts, who staged their own exhibition. Recent graduates who have joined the Stuckists include Abby Jackson. An "Underage Stuckists" group was founded in 2006 with their own manifesto for teenagers by two 16 year olds, Liv Soul and Rebekah Maybury.
Co-founder, Billy Childish left the group in 2001, but has stated that he remains committed to its principles. Stella Vine, an artist promoted by Charles Saatchi in 2004, was first shown by the Stuckists in 2001. She rejected the group after a few months and has since expressed considerable hostility to it.[http://www.stuckism.com/Vine1/Index.html]
In 1999, two performance artists, Yuan Chai and Jian Jun Xi, jumped on Tracey Emin's installation My Bed, a work consisting of the artist's own unmade bed, at the Tate Gallery's Turner Prize, in an unauthorised art intervention. Chai had written, among other things, the words "Anti Stuckism" on his bare back. Fiachra Gibbons of The Guardian wrote that the event "will go down in art history as the defining moment of the new and previously unheard of Anti-Stuckist Movement."
The filmmaker Andrew Kotting released a manifesto declaring "The work should prove anti-Stuckist, genuinely post-modern, contingent and ad hoc in its thinking." The London Surrealist group issued a manifesto denouncing Stuckism.
Other people who have spoken against the group include David Lee, Brian Sewell, Tracey Emin, Paul Myners (Tate Trustees Chairman), Louisa Buck and Adrian Searle.
A more positive response has come from Gavin Turk, Matthew Collings, Edward Lucie-Smith and Sir Nicholas Serota.
This list is not complete.
*1999 Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!
*2000 The First Art Show Of the New Millennium
*2000 The Resignation of Sir Nicholas Serota
*2000 Students for Stuckism: A Remodernist Painting Show and Talk
*2000 The Real Turner Prize Show
*2001 The Stuckists: The First Remodernist Art Group
*2001 The Oxford Stuckists First Exhibition
*2001 Vote Stuckist
*2001 Stuck in Worthing
*2002 Stuck Up North!
*2002 The First Stuckist International
*2003 The Stuckists Summer Show
*2003 Stuck in Worthing, Again
*2003 Stuck in Wednesbury
*2003 War on Blair
*2004 Members Only: the Artist Group in Contemporary Japan and Britain
*2004 Stuckist Classics
*2004 The Stuckists Punk Victorian
*2004 "Stigmata" or "Censorious": The Stuckists Punk Victorian
*2004 Stuck in the Country
*2004 Stuckist Punk Victorian Lite If You Can't Be Bothered to Go to Liverpool
*2004 More of the Welsh Bit of the Stuckists Punk Victorian
*2005 "Painting Is the Medium of Yesterday"—Paul Myners CBE, Chairman of Tate Gallery, Chairman of Marks and Spencer, Chairman of Aspen Insurance, Chairman of Guardian Media, Director of Bank of England, Director of Bank of New York. A Show of Paintings by the Stuckists, as Refused by the Tate Gallery. Guaranteed 100% Free of Elephant Dung.
*2006 The Triumph of Stuckism
*2002 Stuckist Paintings at the Fringe
*2001 Touring Show
*2002 We Just Wanna Show Some F****n' Paintings
*2003 War on Bush
*2004 The Stuckists Punk Victorian In the Toilet
*2005 Addressing the Shadow and Making Friends with Wild Dogs: Remodernism
*2001 First Stuckist Show in Paris
*2005 Les Stuckistes A Paris
*2000 The Real Turner Prize Show
*2002 Stuck Down South
*2007 [http://odysseusartn.temp.powweb.com/RAF/UCRA_EN.html Under the Cover of Romantic Anonymity]
*2000 Stuckism in Germany
*2000 Stuck in Freiburg
*2000 Stuck in Köln
*2004 Stuckists in the Walker—Stuckists in Lewenhagen
*2006 Stuckomenta I in Hamburg
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Stuckism".