Christmas and contemporary art? Like chalk and blue cheese
Source:the guardian Author:Jonathan Jones Date: 2014-12-10 Size:
The Yuletide spirit makes today’s art look brittle, cold and unseasonal – it’s time to set aside good taste and embrace the kitsch

Let’s face it. Contemporary art and Christmas are not even a tiny bit compatible. Nothing is less Christmassy than up-to-the-minute art. There is a complete lack of fit between minimalist austerity and the magically silly spirit of Yuletide.

  Who wants to see cool conceptual art at Christmas? Not me. I’d rather look at a Lego reindeer. The display of Santa and his sled team at Covent Garden market, all made out of Lego, is my idea of a Christmas decoration. It is kitsch and jolly and fun. Christmas is a time to set aside good taste. It’s the season of fairy lights and tinsel and mulled wine – and not for “disturbing” or “thought-provoking” modern art.

  Not that art galleries don’t try, every year, to achieve some Frankensteinian union of Christmas jollity and conceptual misery. The V&A has just unveiled its designer christmas tree. Tate Britain has exhibited some predictably provocative Christmas trees designed by artists over the years. In 2009, Tacita Dean decorated a Tate tree with candles that burned down every evening. It made you think about time winding down and the invitability of death. How Christmassy is that?

  Christmas is not a time for contemporary art, but it is a boom season for the old masters. As we seek to nestle in winter wonderlands both indoors and out, ice fairs painted by Dutch artists mingle with the snow scenes of Bruegel and most of all the rich and magnificent art history of the nativity in a festive musee imaginaire.

  Cool contemporary art is too ostentatiously serious to make much sense at Christmas. It seems rather brittle at this time of year. The light and darkness of the season find more analogies in the art of the past when poverty was shown next to wealth, compassion next to cruelty – all the paradoxes of Christmas, its generosity and hypocrisy, are contained in a masterpiece such as Bruegel’s Adoration of the Magi.

  Of course, it is just a midwinter festival. In January reality will bite again. The nativity scenes will be put away and the lights will go off, and on, and off, and on. Meanwhile I will enjoy mince pies and Bruegel.

[Editor] 古洋