Look here, Hockers! not bothering to lower his voice, That pink you've daubed on the tree trunk there will never do! The artist stares at his painting as if seeing it for the first time. Gallery workers down tools and stare at him. He pushes his glasses up and squints in the glare of the strip light, at this point more puzzled than put out. Then the agent looks up from consulting his mobile, It'll have to come down! And the show can't open until it's fixed! Hockey rubs his eyes and gives a shrug of incredulity. But the blighter is not through with him, pointing at the screen of his mobile, Actually, there's something more serious. We looked up your latest pallet on the Hewlett-Packard scale. Hockney's eyes flick between the screen on the phone and his paintings on the wall. By this time, the gallery workers are drifting out for a fag. The torment proceeds, This programme says eleven pinks, four purples and all your bloody violets were nicked from internet porn sites! You're cheating the public! Hockney shakes his head, struck dumb with disbelief. It goes on, What's more, to be brutally honest, not only is your pallet off colour... By now the cocky little amanuensis has pocketed his mobile and is strutting down the gallery, cracking the palm of his hand with a riding crop, ...We're also concerned about the draughtsmanship here! And here! He flicks at the paintings with his crop And here! Hockney, his body by now trembling, fumbles to light a cigarette,
How long have I got to sort it out?.
The agent sniffs and looks him up and down
Pull yourself together man!
Hockney winces and lets out a sudden yelp. He knows the game is up. The critic is storming out, his arms flailing,
For God's sake, take the lot down! The whole show's postponed for another six months.
The artist falls to his knees, breaks into uncontrollable sobs.
I exaggerate, of course. The real David, a true professional, takes this kind of comment first on the one cheek. Then on the other. Then on all four. Ouch! One hint of criticism, a single derogatory remark or even a careless raspberry from a gallery worker and he will cancel a show himself. He hollers at his droogs,
Out! Out! Out! Bung it all in the pantechnicon! Back to the studios! He will think nothing of repainting a whole years' work to satisfy the arbiters of taste that are his secret controllers. The pillory of criticism, he considers the comfy chair of the true artist. Indeed, to be the critic's whipping boy has always been his one true ambition. This is why his art will go down the great tunnels of history. This is what he learned from the old masters he studied as a student. This is why the public so love his art. He is a very good boy and always does just what he is told.
Hockney may be one of the biggest examples of what the public demands from their artists, via the hordes of agents, producers, promoters, publicist, press officers, coaches and the like that swarm between them and the audience - like the wall of bouncers you get at a stadium rock concert. But for precedents we don't have to go very far back in time. Ludwig Van, no less, was a regular defendant at the court of taste. Whenever one of his symphonies was under rehearsal, he would invariably be dragged, by his one good ear, out of the auditorium, a whole team of Viennese music gurus hauling him up before the style council. “Jawohl, Mein Beak!” the composer of Leonoras One, Two and Three would shout - “Zat stray acciacaccura, I vill liqvidate it vit mein bare hands!” - and straight away would gather up all copies of the flawed work and take them out to his brazier. Ludwig always kept a good brazier going in the garden of the Unter Den Linten block in Vienna. Many the candlelit night he would spend, chewing prunes and completely re-writing a score just to satisfy the whims of Pretorian dudes.
Neither was Bach a stranger to the tortures meted out to those failing to well-temper their claviers. On one occasion, when the Bishop of Brandenburg caught him copying out a score he'd pinched from Vivaldi's waste basket, he was told, in no uncertain terms, to “put it back where he bloody-well found it!” Which meant transposing by hand every single note of the Four Seasons, semitone by semitone!
Surely sculpture is inured to the drive of market forces? No fear! Michaelangelo often had his wrist slapped, usually while engaged in the very act of chiselling. A small example. The main reason for the unprepossessing size, not to mention flaccidity, of the Boy David's willy - is that the Florentine authorities took Goliath's part in the matter. Yep, no one in Renaissance Italy was fooled by that pretty-boy with the sling; and, as the saying goes, no shiksa, no schlong! So Mikey, as his close friends knew him, took cloth cap in hand and went to the Papal Legate himself, Mr Borgia, offering to trim the wick according to the boy's wickedness, which he did. Ouch!
Speaking of hammer horrors, everyone knows the story of a two-bit Broadway hoofer telling Rudolf Nureyev that large sets of tackle were a cause of eccentric pirouettes. He only went and cashed-in his jewels, poor lamb!
We could go on...
Is it any wonder, then, that the celebrated writer of The Jimmy Porter Raps, sorry The Happy Rotter Tales, sorry (shuffle of papers) whatshisname? R.J. Reynolds? Sorry.. I'll read that again, T.S. Eliot, now writing books for grow-nups, has been forced to switch from Colin's Harp to Little Brown Jug?
Troy Story Eliot - The Face That Sank A Thousand Ships
Now with Little Brown Jug
News just in...
Eliot Island controversy - Jamaica for the Parrots & Carrots!
From our Large Islands correspondent, “T.S. Eliot buys the Island of Jamaica intending to turn it into a Parrot Sanctuary and breeding ground for Carrots. Aborigine objectors take her to the Court of Human Rights.”
Older Works for Children: Pottie the Parrot lives amongst the Humans. They imitate each other and make things up as they go along. Colin's Harp 11 vols. Hardback: £17.95; Engraved Copper Sheet: £8,500; Handwritten on Vellum with Diamond Encrusted Golf Leaf cover: 280,000 guineas each.