Inaugural Goldsmiths’ Company Lecture with David Starkey


4 May, 2017
The Goldsmiths’ Company is delighted to announce a new series of high profile annual public lectures. The inaugural lecture will be given by historian David Starkey at Goldsmiths’ Hall at 7pm on 4 May 2017.


Starkey’s lecture, When I Hear the Word ‘Art’, I Reach for my Gun, focuses on art: the word and the idea. He acknowledges that the broad idea of art - that systematic, purposeful combination of technique, tradition and creative intelligence - is one of the foundation stones of (especially Western) civilisation. But he is also convinced that the misappropriation of the word 'art' by the conceptual art clique in the last half-century or so has poisoned the term beyond redemption. It has made it useless historically and hopelessly discriminatory when applied to the so-called 'decorative arts' in contemporary culture.

There is, Starkey claims, only one conclusion: “Art must go. We need to start afresh!”

In presenting his case, Starkey draws on two particular areas of his own work: his attack on the bad faith and dishonesty of the intellectual foundations of conceptual art, which expands upon his essay ’The Treason of the Scholars’ in 2015, and his familiarity with an unusually wide range of material culture which he acquired as the founder-general editor of the Henry VIII Inventory Project.

Immediate past Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, Timothy Schroder, comments: “David Starkey is one of the country’s leading historians and has also curated a number of exhibitions on Tudor history. As such, he is acutely aware of the part played by surviving objects in contributing to our understanding of the past. His thoughtful and well-researched point of view, although not necessarily shared by everybody, will open up the debate on the role of the decorative arts in society.”

  • Share this page