At the tail end of last year, an artist called Peter Goodfellow mounted an exhibition of paintings titled Treason of the Scholars. The works were a garish parody of the signature styles of blue-chip artists including Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Joseph Beuys — not so much satire as aggravated assault. In terms of nuance, it made the giant inflatable butt plug artist Paul McCarthy had installed in Paris’s Place Vendôme in 2014 look subtle. But that, Goodfellow stressed, was precisely the point.
His complaint, he wrote in an accompanying essay, was that the ‘charlatans’ of the contemporary art establishment had come to neglect his medium in favour of figures possessed of ‘no ability, no technique, no intellectual gravity’.