Jake Chapman says Parents shouldn’t take their kids to galleries

Words and Image  by Billie Jenkins

Jake Chapman has once again made headlines this week for running his mouth, this time making claims taking children to art galleries is “a total waste of time” because they cannot comprehend the work, and suggesting they can undermines the complexity of the artwork. Chapman is no stranger to controversy, rather courting it to the point it becomes dull background noise. A highlight of the interview with The Independent came when Chapman stated “children are not human yet”, and that showing a Rothko painting to your youngun’ was “like saying… it’s as moronic as a child”.

It will come as no surprise for readers to hear Chapman has a new show coming up, with the value of media attention and potential ticket sales far exceeding the cost of setting a few liberal, middle class tongues wagging over a bottle of Waitrose Chardonnay. Clearly it’s a hollow sentiment, but the thing that itches me about Chapman’s comments is how dumb they make him sound. Does he really believe the person viewing the artwork makes a comment about its value? Maybe we should keep dumb people out of the Tate as well, or racists, or Jodie Marsh. Chapman’s assessment, if delivered with any sincerity at all, reveals a snobbery within his views on art and the art world he exists within. The claim he makes about the complexity of works being undermined by a child’s viewpoint, and the very simplistic perspective it represents encourages me more than ever that his dead kids in trees and Nazi sodomy are more ’lowest common denominator’ than people want to believe. Perhaps it’s time to view Chapman as a spin doctor rather than an artist, a hangover from the YBA’s who knows all press is good press, at least for his bank account anyway.

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