A Conservative British Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath, Michael Gove, seems peeved that this year’s Turner Prize winner isn’t as great as the Victorians. From this side of the Atlantic, it certainly sounds like he’s itching to Make Britain Great Again.
This isn’t Gove’s first foray into arts criticism. A few years ago, the former UK Education Minister (yes, you read that right) complained that historians and TV programs denigrate patriotism and courage by depicting the war as a “misbegotten shambles.”
In a January 2, 2014 article for the Daily Mail titled “Why does the Left insist on belittling true British heroes?“, Gove wrote (emphasis mine):
The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh! What a Lovely War, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles — a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite. Even to this day there are Left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths.
Those words, sadly, sound like they could’ve easily been tweeted by a certain someone who is being called the US President-elect.
Let’s hope this isn’t part of a new trend of attacks against arts and culture funding in the UK.
British novelist Hari Kunzu point out, via Twitter, that, “You’d think if he wanted to make a middle brow case for Great British Art he could at least google a couple of others.” Yes, preferably some artists from within the last century at the very least — or perhaps someone’s brain is stuck in dreams of Empire.
Also, for the record, John Ruskin was a mediocre artist at best, and Holman Hunt is mostly, as they say, of academic interest.