2005-10-04

Money & Intolerance: Jack Vettriano Latest Scandal

He has both been held up to acclaim as Scotland's greatest living artist and taunted by critics as a purveyor of 'dim erotica' whose work is 'colouring in', and 2005-10-03 'Jack Vettriano' managed to split the 'artworld' once again when it emerged that he had painted some of his most famous pictures by copying images in an illustrators' teaching manual... The figures in 'The Singing Butler', which was sold for 744_800_GBP in 2004-04, breaking all records for a Scottish painting -- and which has been reproduced millions of times on prints and merchandise -- were found to have been taken directly from a 16.99_GBP book of photographs, with only minor changes to clothing. Characters from other famous 'Jack Vettriano' paintings including 'Elegy for the Dead Admiral' and 'The Waltzers' also bore striking similarities to photographs in 'The Illustrator's Figure Reference Manual', as do those in 'Dance Me to the End of Love', painted just eight years ago in 1997. Yesterday, his friend and agent Mr.Tom Hewlett from 'The Portland Gallery' in London issued a statement springing to the artist's defence:
'It is widely known that "Jack" is a self-taught artist and it seems unsurprising that as, in his early painting years he had neither the time nor the money to work with real-life models, that he should use a teaching manual such as this. '"Vettriano's" skill lies in his ability to create narrative paintings with which the viewer becomes involved. He is a master of generating atmosphere in his paintings and bringing to life the characters within them.'
'Jack Vettriano' has never made any secret of the fact that he paints from photographs. 'Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery' near his home town is the only public gallery in the UK which owns works by 'Jack Vettriano'. Museums Co-ordinator Mr.Dallas Mechan, said:
'This news doesn't affect our relationship with the artist and we are very happy to be associated with him.'
'Jack Vettriano' is a people's hero, a miner's son who became a worldwide success story after teaching himself to paint. When the 'art world' was pouring adulation on dead sharks and unmade beds, he was making paintings people liked and understood. Interviewed 2004, a few months after the sale of 'The Singing Butler', 'Jack Vettriano' was modest and self-effacing about his success.
'It was one of these paintings I ought not to have been able to do. 'It was like I cheated. 'It was 1992, I was hardly in the back door of the art world when I did it.'
Most hurtful to him now would be the implication that others feel that he did cheat, and for a man constantly at odds with 'the arts establishment', he may feel that whatever he did -- or didn't -- do in its production, his crime remains that the painting went on to sell for nearly 750_000_GBP, produced millions of prints and turned its author into a millionaire. Director of Painting at The Scottish Gallery, Mr. Robin Mcclure, said:
'Everyone knew they were done from photographs, we just didn't know which photographs. 'I don't think this will affect the price of his art work. 'There are plenty of artists out there who can't draw.'
Even before this 'scandal' 'broke' there were suggestions that 'Jack Vettriano's' prices had peaked; at a Scottish paintings sale at Sotheby's in 2005-04, 12 out of 20 'Jack Vettriano' paintings went unsold. The 2005-10-03 'scandal' isn't the first to hit his career and won't be the last, but in terms of popular success, it's a 'blip' on the 'landscape', not 'the end of the road'. 'Vettriano's works copied from illustrator's manual, it is revealed', Susan Mansfield & Angie Brown, The Scotsman, 2005-10-04, Tu

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