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 or abbreviated to YBAs). The original group of thirteen artists has since expanded to 183 groups in 44 countries. 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 costumes. 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" (which led to an official rebuke of the Tate by the Charity Commission).


thumb|Sexton_Ming,_Tracey_Emin,_Charles_Thomson,_Billy_Childish_and_musician_Russell_Wilkinson_at_the_Rochester_Adult_Education_Centre_December 11, 1987 to record The Medway Poets LP] The name Stuckism was coined by Thomson in response to a comment, made by artist Tracey Emin to Billy Childish, then her boyfriend, which he had recorded in a poem as::Your paintings are stuck,:you are stuck!:Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!


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 [ [ "An open letter to Sir Nicholas Serota"] , 1999. Retrieved 20 May 2007] : Thank you for your open letter dated 6 March. You will not be surprised to learn that I have no comment to make on your letter, or your manifesto 'Remodernism'.), "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 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 & Finsbury, against Chris Smith, the then Secretary of State for Culture. He picked up 108 votes (0.4%). 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. [ "A Dead Shark Isn't Art"] Accessed March 20, 2006]

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. [ [ "Charles Saatchi reported to OFT"] Accessed May 27, 2006] 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. [ [ "Tate buys trustee Chris Ofili's The Upper Room in secret £705,000 deal"] Accessed May 27, 2006] In July 2006 the Charity Commission completed an investigation into The Tate's purchase of trustees' work, censuring the gallery for acting outside its legal powers. [Alberge, Dalya (2006) [ "Tate's Ofili purchase broke charity law"] "The Times" online, July 19, 2006. Accessed April 8, 2007] Sir Nicholas Serota stated that the Stuckists had "acted in the public interest". [Front Row, BBC Radio 4, interview by Mark Lawson, July 25, 2006] In October 2006, the Stuckists staged their first exhibition, "Go West", in a commercial West End gallery, Spectrum London. This "major exhibition"Barnes, Anthony (2006) [ "Portrait of an ex-husband's revenge"] "The Independent on Sunday". Retrieved 9 October, 2006, from] signalled their entry as "major players" in the art world. Teodorczuk, Tom (2006) [ "Modern art is pants"] "Evening Standard", 22 August, 2006. Retrieved 9 October, 2006 from]


The Stuckists gained significant media coverage for seven years of protests (2000-2006) 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. [ [ "White Cube Demo 2002"] , Retrieved 19 April 2008.] [Cripps, Charlotte. [ "Visual arts: Saying knickers to Sir Nicholas] , "The Independent", 7 September 2004. Retrieved from, 7 April 2008.] 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 for which he has been arrested.Birch, Nicholas. [,,1871134,00.html "Briton charged over 'insult' to Turkish PM"] , "The Guardian", 13 September 2006. Retrieved 2 September 2007.]

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.

"Daily Mail" journalist, Jane Kelly, exhibited a painting of Myra Hindley in the show, and was dismissed from her job.Wells, Matt and Cozens, Claire. [,,1315987,00.html "Daily Mail sacks writer who painted Hindley picture"] , "The Guardian", 30 September 2004. Retrieved 1 February 2008.]

International symposium

An international symposium on Stuckism took place in October 2006 at the Liverpool John Moores University during the Liverpool Biennial. The programme was led by Naive John, founder of the Liverpool Stuckists. There was an accompanying exhibition in the 68 Hope Gallery at Liverpool School of Art and Design (John Moores University Gallery).

ir Nicholas Serota Makes an Acquisitions Decision

Thomson's painting, "Sir Nicholas Serota Makes an Acquisitions Decision", is one of the best known paintings to come out of the Stuckist movement,Cripps, Charlotte. [ "Visual arts: Saying knickers to Sir Nicholas] , "The Independent", 7 September 2004. Retrieved from, 7 April 2008.] and a likely "signature piece" for the movement,Morris, Jane. [,,1857054,00.html "Getting stuck in"] , "The Guardian", 24 August 2006. Retrieved 19 April 2008.] standing for its opposition to conceptual art. It was painted in 2000 and has been exhibited in Stuckist shows since, as well as being featured on placards during Stuckist demonstrations against the Turner Prize.

It depicts Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of the Tate Gallery and the usual chairman of the Turner Prize jury, and satirises Young British Artist Tracey Emin's installation, "My Bed", consisting of her bed and objects, including knickers, which she exhibited in 1999 as a Turner Prize nominee.Cassidy, Sarah. [ "Stuckists, scourge of BritArt, put on their own exhibition"] , "The Independent", 23 August 2006. Retrieved 19 April 2008.]

erota petition

In April 2008, Charles Thomson submitted a petition to the prime minister's web site about Sir Nicholas Serota, but this was rejected as being “potentially libellous, false, or defamatory”, so he submitted it again with different wording. [ [ My Petition to Gordon Brown - The British Prime Minister and the Tate's Tin of Shit.] Counter Punch, 12th April 2008] [ [ The Times, 10th April 2008] ] This was accepted, and is currently online with the text: "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to state that he will not give his approval to any reappointment of Sir Nicholas Serota as Director of the Tate gallery." [ [ 10 Downing Street E-petitions, Submitted by Charles Thomson of Stuckists ] ] Charles Thomson said, "This is the first time in 20 years that the public have been given a chance to say what they think of Serota's policies of acquiring decaying sharks and tins of shit." Barry Fantoni is a signatory. [ [ The Independent, 24th April 2008]

International Movement

The Stuckists have grown to an international movement and by 2008 numbered 181 (affiliated but independent) groups in 44 countries


In October 2000, Regan Tamanui founded the Melbourne Stuckists, [] 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." [] 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, Udaiyan, Peter McArdle, Peter Murphy, Rachel Jordan 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 and Arfius Arf are new affiliates.

Stuckists outside the UK include artists such as [ Peter Klint] , [ Andreas Torneberg] , [ Frank Christopher Schroeder] (Germany), Odysseus Yakoumakis (Greece), [ Kloot Per W] (Belgium) and Michael Dickinson (Turkey).

New generation

A "Students for Stuckism" group was founded in 2000 by students from Camberwell College of Arts, who staged their own exhibition. S.P. Howarth was expelled from Camberwell college for his Stuckist work as stated in [ The Times newspaper] . He had the first solo at the Stuckism International Gallery in 2002, called "I Don't Want a Painting Degreeif it Means Not Painting",. 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. [ [ "The Underage Stuckists Manifesto"] Accessed April 25, 2006]

Ex Stuckists

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 hostility to it. [] Sexton Ming left to concentrate on a solo career with the Aquarium Gallery. Wolf Howard left in 2006, but has exhibited with the group since. Jesse Richards who ran the Stuckism Centre USA in New Haven, left the group in 2006, but still works with some current and former members on occasion. Mary von Stockhausen, who runs the Stuckist Centre Germany in Lewenhagen, left the group in 2007.


Anti-Stuckist movement

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."Gibbons, Fiachra (1999) [,12119,201733,00.html "Satirists Jump into Tracey's Bed"] "The Guardian" online, October 25, 1999. Accessed March 22, 2006]


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 as well as Young British Artists. They state that stuckism "is a childish kicking against modernity that fails, pathetically, to challenge the underlying realities of capitalism, of the capitalist art market, of material, psychological, psychic and spiritual repression." and also establish that even though Britart "stand squarely among our (their) enemies" because of its total functionality within the capitalist structure, nevertheless this shouldn´t mean opposing conceptual art since they say "is far from exhausted" [ [ COMING UNSTUCK] ] .

Group shows


*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 Stuck!
*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 I Don't Want a Painting Degree if it Means Not Painting
*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
*2006 Go West
*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
*2007 Mark D and the Stuckists vs Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst
*2007 I Won't Have Sex with You as long as We're Married [ [ "I Won't Have Sex with You as long as We're Married" — images of the show] ]


*2002 Stuckist Paintings at the Fringe
*2001 Touring Show
*2002 We Just Wanna Show Some Fuckin' Paintings
*2003 War on Bush
*2004 The Stuckists Punk Victorian In the Toilet
*2005 France
*2001 First Stuckist Show in Paris
*2005 Les Stuckistes A ParisAustralia
*2000 The Real Turner Prize Show
*2002 Stuck Down SouthGreece
*2007 [ Under the Cover of Romantic Anonymity] Germany
*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]
*2006 [ Stuckomenta II in Lewenhagen]
*2007 [ Stuckomenta III in Munich]
*2007 [ Flotter stuckistischer Dreier in Hamburg] Belgium
*2006 United Colours ltd. in Brussels


Some UK artists.

ee also

* Wesley Kimler (anti-conceptual art)
* Dogme 95
* New Puritans

Notes and references

Further reading

* Ed. Katherine Evans (2000), "The Stuckists" Victoria Press, ISBN 0-907165-27-3
* Ed. Frank Milner (2004), "The Stuckists Punk Victorian" National Museums Liverpool, ISBN 1-902700-27-9

External links

* [ Stuckism International web site]
* [ The Stuckists manifesto] and the [ Remodernism manifesto]
* [ Myspace Profile for Stuckism International]
* [ Comprehensive essay by Charles Thomson on Stuckism]
* [ Billy Childish interviewed about Stuckism]
* [ List of Stuckist groups worldwide]
* [ "The Stuckists Punk Victorian" at the Walker Gallery]
* [ 2007 Interview with "the thing is..." magazine]
* [ Photos of "The Stuckists Punk Victorian"]
* [ Triumph of Stuckism symposium official site]
* [ Stuckism in Germany]
* [ Stuckist issue of MungBeing magazine]
* [,6903,1664698,00.html Stuckists and Ofili Tate controversy in The Observer]
* ['NA13518') Stuckist manifestos (1999–2000)] and ['TGA%2020051/25'&dsqCmd=Show.tcl flyer (2005)] in the Tate Gallery
* [ Interview with Peter Klint, Incubus' Choice, December 2006]

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