I thought painting was supposed to be dead. It seems impossible to nail into its casket. Wherever I look this autumn, paint is being splashed about. From Turner and Constable to Rembrandt, Anselm Kiefer and Gerhard Richter, great painters are strutting their stuff.
Even Marcel Duchamp, inventor of the readymade and, some would say, the artist who knocked painting off its pedestal, is examined in a less familiar light – as a painter – by the Centre Georges Pompidou this autumn. Duchamp proves it’s an empty cliche to think painting is irreconcilable with the multiform art of today. Painting has such a diverse history – encompassing such varied phenomena as Chinese landscapes on silk, medieval frescoes and Jackson Pollock – that it obviously has the capacity to evolve in infinite ways as the world changes.
And yet, it’s undeniable that many people today equate modernity in art with modern media. Video and photography are glibly identified with the new, and painting is routinely equated with the past. This is arguably true of many art schools, where there is a powerful emphasis on multimedia ways of making art.
Some painters are rebelling against this. They have even founded a new art school to put it right. The Turps art school, co-founded by painter Marcus Harvey and connected with the magazine Turps Banana, has just been given a painting by Keith Coventry to support its activities as it moves to a new home on the Aylesbury estate, in south London. It defines its mission as fighting for better painting tuition and tutorial input, and against the rise in tuition fees on established fine-art courses.