A Vogue cover shot is not a serious portrait. Who would expect it to be? I’ve nothing against the romantic rural pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge that decorate the June issue of Vogue. Nice face, nice clothes. But is a glossy picture of Kate Middleton in any way a serious work of art?
Source: Kate’s Vogue shots shouldn’t be in a gallery. They’re not art | Jonathan Jones | Opinion | The Guardian
Jonathan Jones does it again, pressing his overtly snobbish views (or opinions) about what constitutes art into the public arena. I've disagreed with him in the past, with his comments about other photographic portraits last year. This time... well again he is completely wrong.
There is some truth in what he says though. I can't argue with the sentiment that the Royal Collection could be made available for showing to the public in some form or another. Donating it might be going too far - would he expect other art owners to donate their collection? Granted, some of it might be deemed as being a national, rather than a personal, asset, but is all of it?
What irks me is that, once more, the supposed arbiter of artistic judgement is pushing photography away from the gallery walls. He asks "is a glossy picture of Kate Middleton in any way a serious work of art?" It could be, but in this particular case it is a magazine cover photograph, from Vogue, and is (if I understand correctly) being displayed as part of a commemoration of 100 years of the magazine.
They're also being displayed in the National Portrait Gallery, which as the name suggests is for portraits. This fits the bill... He was also similarly dismissive of David Bailey's Stardust exhibition at the NPG - "If artistic brilliance were merely the creation of snazzy, glamorous, eye-catching pictures, Bailey would indeed be one of the greats." and "This exhibition goes down as easily as a colour supplement, but has about the same claim to be art." (see here
). Maybe the initial intent of these images was not as a piece of art in the same manner as, say, one of his beloved Caravaggios, but that doesn't mean that they're empty of any form of communication or aesthetic appeal. It also doesn't mean that they cannot be seen within a gallery context. Not all "art" is seen in a gallery context, and not everything seen in a gallery was conceived as being "art". Things change in this day and age, context can imbued over time, images repurposed or reimagined.
The fact of the matter is also that painting is not the only form of art, or that art has to be serious - Jones is simply living in the past.