David Lee (art critic)

David Lee (art critic)

David Lee (born 1953) is an outspoken, English, contemporary, art critic—condemning conceptual art in general and the Turner Prize in particular. He publishes and edits The Jackdaw magazine, critical of the contemporary art world.



David Lee was editor of Art Review magazine, but left to found his own satirical, opinionated, often vitriolic, magazine The Jackdaw to continue his campaign at what he sees as unacceptable standards in the art world.

The Jackdaw was founded in 2000 and is published ten times a year. Its official website gives the description:

By and large it’s pretty nasty and critical of many things, and especially of the art establishment which stinks like the rotting carcase it is. If The Jackdaw isn’t amusing in parts then it has failed. It’s pretty childish sometimes too and do beware because parts of it are not entirely true I’ll leave it up to you to believe whichever bits you like and to disregard the rest.

Some of it is serious. Some of it is just downright bad. Some issues are better than others. But no other art publication dares to be like it.

The last thing I want you to think is that The Jackdaw has an agenda. On the contrary, it doesn’t believe in anything at all and, by the way: "It’s totally unsuitable for Birmingham".[1]

The final comment is a response from Birmingham City Art Gallery to the magazine.

A section of it which he has taken with him from Art Review is titled "Artbollocks", where Lee reprints what he considers to be nonsensical and pretentious use of language by critics, galleries and artists, when describing art. The magazine requires a certain familiarity to appreciate, as leading figures in the artworld are usually referred to by Lee's substitute names for them. Thus Tracey Emin becomes "the Margate slapper" and Jay Jopling "Jeremy Fop".

Lee is often quoted in art debates in the press or on radio and television to give the "reactionary" or "common sense" (depending on your point of view) response to art. He does however have sufficient credibility to give evidence to a parliamentary select committee on the hidden collections in UK art Institutions.

He has been linked with the Stuckists art movement because of their similar response to the Young British Artists, the Turner Prize and conceptual art. However, he is equally opposed to their art and, when the Stuckists offered a donation of work to the Tate Gallery, he declared: "If the Tate accepts these ridiculous daubs The Jackdaw will dance naked – except for his favourite swastika armband – down Whitehall singing Mamma Mia."[2]

He called the Charles Saatchi's New Blood exhibition in 2004, "an assortment of tricks and stunts that was promoted with desperation and hitherto unsuspected tastelessness ... He promoted a rotten, talentless painter called Stella Vine to public notoriety".[3]

Lee acted as "an independent art critic" for a task in the British 'Big Brother' TV show, broadcast 2 July 2009 where he judged three pieces, two of which were done by housemates and the third by a six year old child. Though Lee was told all three were by housemates, he still judged the six year old's the worst.

See also

  • Other contemporary UK art critics
Adrian Searle
Louisa Buck
Brian Sewell
Sarah Kent
Waldemar Januszczak
Matthew Collings

Notes and references

  1. ^ Jackdaw website home page Retrieved April 3, 2006
  2. ^ "Daubs and Daubers", stuckism.com Retrieved April 3, 2006
  3. ^ Owen, Paul. "From the art publications", The Guardian, 14 July 2004. Retrieved 8 August 2008.

External links

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