Stuckism is an international art movement founded in 1999 by Billy Childish and Charles Thomson to promote figurative painting as opposed to conceptual art. By May 2017 the initial group of 13 British artists had expanded to 236 groups in 52 countries.
Childish and Thomson have issued several manifestos. The first one was The Stuckists, consisting of 20 points starting with "Stuckism is a quest for authenticity". Remodernism, the other well-known manifesto of the movement, is a criticism of postmodernism; it aims to get back to the true spirit of modernism, to produce art with spiritual value regardless of style, subject matter or medium. In another manifesto they define themselves as anti-anti-art which is against anti-art and for art.
After exhibiting in small galleries in Shoreditch, London, the Stuckists' first show in a major public museum was held in 2004 at the Walker Art Gallery, as part of the Liverpool Biennial. The group has demonstrated annually at Tate Britain against the Turner Prize since 2000, sometimes dressed in clown costumes. They have also come out in opposition to the Charles Saatchi-patronised Young British Artists.
Although painting is the dominant artistic form of Stuckism, artists using other media such as photography, sculpture, film and collage have also joined, and share the Stuckist opposition to conceptualism and ego-art.
The name "Stuckism" was coined in January 1999 by Charles Thomson in response to a poem read to him several times by Billy Childish. In it, Childish recites that his former girlfriend, Tracey Emin had said he was "stuck! stuck! stuck!" with his art, poetry and music. Later that month, Thomson approached Childish with a view to co-founding an art group called Stuckism, which Childish agreed to, on the basis that Thomson would do the work for the group, as Childish already had a full schedule.
There were eleven other founding members: Philip Absolon, Frances Castle, Sheila Clark, Eamon Everall, Ella Guru, Wolf Howard, Bill Lewis, Sanchia Lewis, Joe Machine, Sexton Ming, and Charles Williams. The membership has evolved since its founding through creative collaborations: the group was originally promoted as working in paint, but members have since worked in various other media, including poetry, fiction, performance, photography, film and music.
In 1979, Thomson, Childish, Bill Lewis and Ming were members of The Medway Poets performance group, to which Absolon and Sanchia Lewis had earlier contributed. Peter Waite's Rochester Pottery staged a series of solo painting shows. In 1982, TVS broadcast a documentary on the poets. That year, Emin, then a fashion student, and Childish started a relationship; her writing was edited by Bill Lewis, printed by Thomson and published by Childish. Group members published dozens of works. The poetry group dispersed after two years, reconvening in 1987 to record The Medway Poets LP. Clark, Howard and Machine became involved over the following years. Thomson got to know Williams, who was a local art student and whose girlfriend was a friend of Emin; Thomson also met Everall. During the foundation of the group, Ming brought in his girlfriend, Guru, who in turn invited Castle.
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