What is your Artist Manifesto?

I have started reading 100 Artists’ Manifestos from futurists to the Stuckists selected by Alex Danchev

It’s a fascinating read and should be mandatory reading for all art students and artists a like.

I think I may have the answer to why or what is art! just reading through a few of the manifestos over the weekend they are a reflection on the creative process and frame work to creating and audience relationship to art.

So far the manifesto’s I have read are

Maintenance Art Manifesto 1969

Mierle Laderman Ukeles

The tension Ukeles felt between her role as an artist and her role as a mother led her to write three-and-a-half page Maintenance Art Manifesto in 1969. The manifesto emphasizes maintenance (domestic, as well as general/public and earth maintenance) as a creative strategy. In the manifesto, she also challenges the domestic role of women, and proclaims herself a “maintenance artist”. She explains that the manifesto came about when she “felt like two separate people…the free artist and the mother/maintenance worker…. I was never working so hard in my whole life, trying to keep together the two people I had become. Yet people said to me, when they saw me pushing my baby carriage, ‘Do you do anything?’…Then I had an epiphany… I have the freedom to name maintenance as art. I can collide freedom into its supposed opposite and call that art. I name necessity art.” She reiterates this view in the manifesto, writing, “I am an artist. I am a woman. I am a wife. I am a mother. (Random order). I do a hell of a lot of washing, cleaning, cooking, renewing, supporting, preserving, etc. Also, (up to now separately) I ‘do’ Art. Now I will simply do these everyday things, and flush them up to consciousness, exhibit them, as Art.”

One part of the manifesto is a proposal for an exhibition titled Care, a show that “would zero in on pure maintenance, exhibit it as contemporary art.” The show would be divided into three sections: personal (with Ukeles performing household chores in an art museum, thereby elevating domestic maintenance to the status of art), general (with Ukeles conducting interviews with members of the public about their relationship to maintenance), and earth (with various sorts of refuse being delivered to the museum, and then “rehabilitated” and “recycled”). The exhibition was never realized, as every institution she proposed it to rejected it. However, the proposal was pivotal in her career, as it laid the groundwork for the themes that would come to define it. The manifesto was one of the first artworks to make the work of the home, and mother, visible and to frame this work as art, and remains one of the most important text-based artworks in feminist and conceptual art histories – where the idea of the work is more important than what it looks like, or even if it was made at all!

The manifesto was published in Artforum in 1971 as part of a Jack Burnham article about the end of the avant-garde. This publication led to a relationship with an important feminist curator, Lucy Lippard. Lippard invited Ukeles to be in c. 7,500, an exhibition of female conceptual artists she curated in 1973. The exhibition started at CalArts, and then travelled all over the USA.


I found her manifesto got straight to the point about the mechanics to life the importance of being organised, life skills, the importance of cleaning, organising, caring. These are realistic goals that we set our selves everyday, they are part of what makes us human

My next manifesto are two favourites of mine Gilbert and George.

Gilbert & George’s Laws of Sculptors, a four-point manifesto authored in 1969 

  1. Always be smartly dressed, well groomed relaxed friendly polite and in complete control
  2. Make the world to believe in you and to pay heavily for this privilege
  3. Never worry assess discuss or criticize but remain quiet, respectful and calm.
  4. The lord chisels still, so don’t leave your bench for long.

Both fascinating characters, they hold themselves so gracefully, I remember watching them on a talk show called Paul O’Grady, in the UK and they spoke about how they love to make their art work, which is often watching chat shows, and lots of TV. I found this comment surprising but also not so, because they come across as being so different to everyday life but they are also representative of life too.


Billy Childish
Charles Thomson
(est. 1999)

“Your paintings are stuck,
you are stuck!
Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!”
Tracey Emin

They wrote 20 points here are a few of my favourite.

5.Art that has to be in a gallery to be art isn’t art.

7. The Stuckist is not mesmerised by the glittering prizes, but is wholeheartedly engaged in the process of painting. Success to the Stuckist is to get out of bed in the morning and paint.

8. It is the Stuckist’s duty to explore his/her neurosis and innocence through the making of paintings and displaying them in public, thereby enriching society by giving shared form to individual experience and an individual form to shared experience.

14. Brit Art, in being sponsored by Saachis, main stream conservatism and the Labour government, makes a mockery of its claim to be subversive or avant-garde.

18. The Stuckist is opposed to the sterility of the white wall gallery system and calls for exhibitions to be held in homes and musty museums, with access to sofas, tables, chairs and cups of tea. The surroundings in which art is experienced (rather than viewed) should not be artificial and vacuous.

Just from reading these 5 points they high light the situation of the art world in the late 90’s and the art worlds thirst to capitalise on art. Personally I have always grappeld with showing my work in white cube spaces to the converted. I’d much rather show my work in a space that is alive and seen by everyone.

I hope to one day write my own artist manifesto………………..watch this space


  1. My favourite from the Other Muswell Hill Stuckists manifesto (which I co-wrote with Edgeworth Johnsstone) is “YBA means you’ll believe anything” (coined by Edgeworth). The last manifesto in the book.

  2. My favourite from the Other Muswell Hill Stuckists manifesto which I co-wrote with Edgeworth Johnstone is “YBA means you’ll believe anything” (coined by Edgeworth). The last manifesto in the book.

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