Line drawing in black ink on white background of a gooseneck barnacle with eyes and mouth, looking at a spider hanging down from the top with worry.

Caulfield against Hume

Since Bebushka learned how to walk and say goodbye she is not interested in me anymore. She leaves in a straight line, without looking back. And she is obsessed by bags. I don’t know whether to take it personally. Because I am postmodern better not care. Although I, I have to admit, don’t think postmodernism exists. Or, rather, I think it is like the dust on the zen mirror. I believe this because I find it convenient, of course. Because if it is true like postmodernism claims, that anything can be art, then art disappears. And if there is no art, what will I not be able to make a living doing?

That doesn’t mean I am not postmodern, I am. Each one is born when each one is born. I also agree and disagree with Plato, but that is another story. What I believe is that for art to exist it has to be possible to differentiate what is art from what is not. It is necessary to be able to distinguish what is artistically significant. A critical judgement is needed. Whether or not the bebushkas escape.

That is why the Tate hasn’t done Hume any favours exhibiting his work at the same time as Caulfied’s. One has to be a radical postmodernist (and that has some conceptual merit) to not notice the difference. Luckily I saw Hume first. His paintings reminded me of the exercises of form analysis at design school.

Then, seeing Caulfield, I understood where those exercises came from. The first one, influenced by the media, lacks a boil. The second, influential in the media, is amazing. What colours, what spaces, what teasing. One is entertainment, the other, art.

The fact that the Tate shows them together is disquieting, because somehow it equates them. It makes one of the scariest sentences in art books come before me: and for three centuries nothing significant was produced…

Luckily Caulfield will last a while and museums have their affairs. Enough to drive off ghosts. There is hope.