Daniel Barnes
Philosopher

Anything and Nothing At All
 
Quay Arts Centre, Isle of Wight, 18 September 2014
 
On the occasion of Martin Creed: Tate Artist Rooms on Tour, Creed Live Closing Party

This lecture explores the art of Martin Creed by defending the claim that hisTurner Prize winning Work No. 227 The lights going on and off was the first great artwork of the 21st Century. I explain how the very possibility of Creed's art - consisting as it does of seemingly little content and artistic effort - is a result of an art historical tradition that extends back to Duchamp. Although it has the aesthetic appearance of minimalism or conceptual art, I think that Creed's work is neither of these; rather, I argue, it is pure expressionism that invites the audience to negotiate a conflict of opposing emotions. This, I conclude, leads to profound insight about the nature of human life, which - like Creed's work - is always and only about anything and nothing at all.