A visit to a contemporary art exhibition can be a disappointing experience. This picture is an allegory of the current art establishment. The route to the art world as we know it today is indicated by the room before the main scene. Talented artists like Picasso, in an effort to continue the process started by the Impressionists and Post-impressionists, experimented in all manner of painting styles with great success and the painters and critics of their day followed the process with interest. The general public though, found it increasingly hard to distinguish the new wave from amateurish and childish daubs. But many would-be artists were attracted to the idea that hard-learned skills and knowledge were no longer necessary to achieve their ambition. They tended to belittle work which appeared to be the result of honest commitment and talent, and they were supported by eager critics and opportunistic dealers.
In the picture ‘true art’ has been crudely pushed aside. An apparatchik of the new tyranny stands guard. The broken timber has been found in a skip, the bishop’s mitre echos the reverence shown to sacred relics demanded by the bishops of old; the nude, which at first appears to be the last glimmer of the great art of the past, has been made to order by a craftsman whose name does not appear in the catalog; the artists contribution was a rough scribble and a sly title to baffle the obedient admirers. The other two objects were painted from real ‘works’ exhibited locally, shipped by a famous London gallery.
The Spitfire falls to its doom; it came to the rescue of the nation in its hour of need, but neither it nor anything else can stop grey forces from substituting the word ‘art’ for the word ‘money’ in the economist’s saying: ‘bad money drives out good’.