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Letter: Transitory sensations

Sir: I have just returned from seeing, or some would say experiencing, the "Sensation" exhibition at The Royal Academy. There was little intellectual stimulus; the exhibition is based on fashion. It is simply a reflection of this society's obsession with sex. And like all fashions, it is transitory. I could find nothing durable or enduring there. And where does it take us tomorrow? These artists have been given status by the Saatchi Collection and fashion dictates that they are therefore desirable, life-enhancing and, above all, important. An object's ability to shock or appal does not make it important under any guise.

That is except for the painting. The painting is gorgeous. I don't say that just because it is to me a more comprehensible medium, but because I can see the work involved.

I don't dispute that this is a brave, eclectic cross-section of a generation's art - and Rachel Whiteread's sculptures are excellent - but I found myself preoccupied with the concern that my nostrils might be assaulted at any moment and not my intellect. Pickled pig and decomposing bovine heads do not give pleasure or even tickle the wit; they do not prick the conscience or give sanction to a political statement. They assail the psyche, offend the senses and turn the sensitive stomach. Forget boundaries, goalposts and other such illusory parameters. The meaning of art, its very definition, eluded me today at the Academy, whose assured home I thought it was.


Weybridge, Surrey