All content © Julian Spalding

Eduard Bersudsky

Julian Spalding is a writer and former museum director.

The search is on to find the real art of our times, and among it all will be some works of art that resonate with greatness by revealing what it feels like to be fully alive today. 

He was born in 1947 and grew up on a council estate in St Mary Cray, South London where his upbringing shaped his future perception of the injustices that can spring from social inequality and cultural deprivation.  He studied fine art and art history in Nottingham, and then pursued a career in museums, rising to become the director of art galleries for the cities of Sheffield, Manchester and, finally, Glasgow. His innovations included thematic art displays, participatory community programmes and internal management changes all aimed at making museums more responsive to their public. He established several award-winning museums including the Ruskin Gallery, the St Mungo Museum of Religious Art and Life, Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art and the Open Museum.  He left museums in 1999.  

In 2000, as Master of the John Ruskin’s Guild of St George, he initiated the nationwide Campaign for Drawing.  In 2002, he spelt out his global vision for the future of museums in his book The Poetic Museum – Reviving Historic Collections and, in 2003, his critique of modern art in The Eclipse of Art- Tackling the Crisis in Art Today.  His book The Art of Wonder-A History of Seeing won the Banister Fletcher Award for the best art book of 2006. The Best Art You’ve Never Seen – 101 Hidden Treasures from Around the World was published by Rough Guides in 2010.  His e-pamphlet, Con Art – Why You Should Sell Your Damien Hirsts While You Can was published on Amazon/Kindle in 2012, generating widespread international interest. His scurrilous novel about the contemporary art world, Nothing On, is now also available on Amazon/Kindle. His book, with the physician, philosopher and writer, Raymond Tallis, Summers of Discontent - The Purpose of the Arts Today was published in September 2014 His book on the history of world pictures, Realisation - from Seeing to Understanding - The Origins of Art is to be published in February 2015.

NEW BOOK IS OUT - now in 2nd edition!

In this collection of essays and memoirs Julian Spalding revisits some of the most important events and battles of the last 40 years, during his period as director of Sheffield, Manchester and Glasgow’s art galleries and after, when he spearheaded resistance to the cult of conceptual art being promoted from the centre. At times hilarious, hard-hitting and blazingly intelligent, he recounts meetings and dealings with everyone from David Hockney to the Queen, Henri Cartier-Bresson to Sir Nicholas Serota, Jack Jones to David Bowie, Jean Tinguely to Niki de St Phalle.

For more information about the book please visit Art Exposed.

Published by Pallas Athene  |  https://pallasathene.co.uk

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Bringing the collection up-to date will also naturally and most importantly widen the Gallery’s representation of women artists and the art of many cultures, truly reflecting the nature of Britain and the modern world.  As Dalya Alberge wrote in her article about the campaign, the National Gallery is creating ‘a terrible fossil’. In its next bi-centenary, all its paintings will be over 300 years, almost all by white, European men.

For more details and copies of the letters to the National Gallery and the King - see Campaigns section.

Springing from his book Art Exposed, Julian Spalding has now launched a campaign to persuade the National Gallery, in its bi-centennial year, to revert to its founding aim to show great paintings over time and to drop the closing date of 1900 which it put on its collection in 1996.

Modern paintings hanging in the National Gallery will demonstrate to the world that the great art of painting did not die in 1900 and it will inspire artists today to create paintings  that one day might hang on its walls.