Let me educate you: an art tutor’s verdict on art by Robbie Williams and other stars | Art

It’s pop art, but not as you know it. Robbie Williams is the latest in a long list of musicians to have branched out into painting as another way to express themselves, but will it entertain you?

His fine art foray will be shown at the auction house Sotheby’s next month, adding to the growing gallery of pop star art. Over the years exhibitions have featured the work of musicians including Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.

Their works have not always been well received. As long ago as 1999, the art critic Brian Sewell said he was sick of the “infuriating tendency among clapped out old pop stars to become artists”. Such critical scorn does not seem to have deterred musicians turning to art. The Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood said that rarely a day goes by without painting.

Should they stick to music? We asked A-level art examiner Deborah Philpott, who is also a Superprof art tutor, to grade works by six musicians including Williams.

The results were mixed with some only scraping a pass at A-level. But the examiner generously praised the individuality on display.

Philpott says: “All the candidates were able to respond in a creative and individual manner with strong connections to their own environment. They all showed a creative response to media and materials, which demonstrated meaningful and considered outcomes.”

She added: “All the work was personal, some being more contextually informed and driven by the work of other artists. Each piece reflected the candidates own interpretation of subject matter close to their hearts.”

Robbie Williams

Beverly, by Robbie Williams and Ed Godrich estimated £15,000-20,000.
Beverly, by Robbie Williams and Ed Godrich, estimated to sell for £15,000-£20,000. Photograph: Sotheby’s/PA

A-level grade B

Collaborative piece, which has repetitive images, symbols and mark making, recalling work such as Aboriginal paintings and the work of the American artist Jackson Pollock. The image reflects an interest in pop art and the more recent work of street artists such as Banksy. Interesting use of media and imagery that creates a mesmeric outcome responding to the environment and sounds that were created in the studio.

Paul McCartney

Bowie Spewing by Paul McCartney
Bowie Spewing, by Paul McCartney

A-level grade C

Expressive and strong use of colour and mark making, with a personal, emotional and intuitive response to his subject matter. Experimental use of media with a limited palette and a playful range of mark making.

Kurt Cobain

Painting by Kurt Cobain
Untitled painting by Kurt Cobain

A-level grade D

Loose interpretation of scale and shape that nonetheless captures a lively imagination with a strong sense of colour, line and tone. Some consideration to proportion and compositional arrangement, producing an emotional response to an unsettling image.

Joni Mitchell

Still Life with Commotion, by Joni Mitchell
Still Life with Commotion, by Joni Mitchell

A-level grade B

Vibrant and energetic use of colour and mark making, interpreting the conventions of still life and portraiture, making an exciting composition with a riot of shapes and textures. Lively combination of figurative and abstract qualities with a nod to post-impressionism.

Chrissie Hynde

Self-portrait, Chrissie Hynde.
Self-portrait, by Chrissie Hynde

A-level grade A

Shows a sound understanding of the conventions of early 20th-century art. Vivid use of colour with bold use of abstract shapes and form. Expressive use of brush marks with skilful use of proportion and composition.

Ronnie Wood

Stray Cat Blues by Ronnie Wood
Stray Cat Blues by Ronnie Wood

A-level grade B

Great energy in the use of media and mark making. Good use of tone, understanding of proportion and sense of movement. Demonstrates proficient drawing skill and an ability to capture mood and movement at the scene of an event.

Leave a Comment