What’s with the general antipathy towards Jack Vettriano? He doesn’t have to be your friend and he’s certainly not mine but for a self taught guy you have to admire the intrinsic quality of his art. Yet he is consistently derided by the art establishment as though he is some kind of parvenu, an imposter and a man only deserving of the most withering scorn.
Now let’s be quite clear as to his oeuvre. Vettriano is, undoubtedly, a highly commercial artist whose works have sold for six figure sums and whose style was neatly encapsulated by Philip Hensher in the Independent as having a louche, *** edge. Well, great! What’s wrong with that? Nobody is suggesting he is a pioneering artist but then the buying public aren’t necessarily motivated by that alone.
However, it has been inferred that he lifted variants of these images from existing sources rather than creating his own. It’s thus pleasing to see that he has some sense of history as it is a technique that has been borrowed by artists over the last five hundred years or so. Yet here we have one Richard Calvocoressi, apparently director of the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh but sounding uncannily like an obscure Italian footballer, proclaiming that Vettriano is an indifferent painter. I’ve not been to the aforementioned gallery before but I would not be remotely surprised that much of the work on its walls masquerades as art to justify its appeal to more avant garde tastes.
Some modern art is very fine but some, I’m afraid to say, is almost irredeemably awful. Calvocoressi is entitled to his opinion, albeit an ill judged one, but needs to lose the pomposity which so often blights the critic. Vettriano evidently gives considerable pleasure and, while he will be the first to admit he does not hit the artistic heights associated with a true modern master such as Lucian Freud, he commands both respect and some rather elevated prices for his efforts.
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