Jimmy Carr Destroys Art: which artists and paintings present?

A studio audience will decide whether Jimmy Carr should destroy works of art by Hitler, Picasso and Rolf Harris in a new show to celebrate Channel 4’s 40th anniversary

Jimmy Carr Destroys Art, a new show which sees studio audiences vote on whether or not Jimmy Carr should destroy works of art by controversial designers, will air on Channel 4 on Tuesday 25 October.

The exhibition will feature pieces by Picasso, Hitler and Rolf Harris, and will apparently offer a discussion of ideas of censorship, canceling culture and whether or not it is possible to truly separate the art from the artist.

Here’s everything you need to know about Jimmy Carr Destroys Art.

What is it about?

So Jimmy Carr is joined by pundits, a studio audience, and a piece of artwork from someone controversial. Experts – academics, artists themselves, etc. – discuss the merits of the work of art, whether or not it should be kept or destroyed. The public, after listening to this and making their decision, will vote on the fate of the art – then Jimmy Carr will put a hammer on it.

The idea is to spark discussion about whether or not a work of art can truly be separated from the artist who made it, albeit in a deliberately provocative and ostentatious way of course. It airs as part of Channel 4’s Truth or Dare season, which celebrates its 40e birthday in November.

Which artists are in the spotlight?

Jimmy Carr, holding a hammer aloft, illuminated against an orange background. (Channel 4)

Jimmy Carr Destroys Art uses a fairly loose definition of “artist”. The headline-grabbing name has, unsurprisingly, been Hitler – his paintings not being exactly what he’s best known for, to say the least. Alongside a Hitler painting and a Picasso vase, Carr’s audience will also decide the fate of works by convicted pedophile Rolf Harris and sex offender Eric Gill, raising the question of whether the point starting point was “problematic artists” or “who has committed sexual acts”. violence and also paints”.

Incidentally, it stands to reason that the series could have claimed a little more substance – and been less overtly postural – if it had engaged in more traditional art or simply more interesting choices. Never mind a painting of Hitler, why not a painting of George W Bush? How about a Harry Potter novel – or a Jimmy Carr DVD?

Isn’t this all a bit too literal?

Well, yes, a little. There’s a world of difference between “we believe this artist should no longer be actively celebrated, or prioritized in the canon ahead of the works of other, perhaps marginalized creators” and “let’s take a hammer for that”.

Again, you have to wonder if anyone would debate the artistic merits of a Rolf Harris painting if it weren’t for the specific context of “what shocking name can we give this exhibit”. This is an entirely false premise – as demonstrated, in fact, by the fact that Channel 4 said they’ll get rid of Hitler’s painting anyway even if the public chooses to record it. Nobody wants it! It is of no value to debate.

Are these paintings really real?

As far as they are able to verify, apparently yes. Obviously, it’s a bit difficult to establish if something is actually a Hitler painting, and Channel 4 went for the cheapest Picasso possible (a vase rather than one of his paintings), but, yeah , this is the line. Whether you want to trust is up to you.

Hasn’t Jimmy Carr been telling Holocaust jokes lately?

Yes he did. In late 2021, Carr’s stand-up special His Dark Material was released on Netflix; he gained renewed attention in February 2022 when a clip of one of his jokes went viral online. Discussing the holocaust, Carr suggested that there was never any focus on “the positives”, such as the death of the “thousands of G–”.

Carr fans argued the clip decontextualized the routine – Carr describes the joke as deliberately shocking before doing it anyway – although critics argued it was a pretty weak defense of a essentially unsophisticated punchline. It has also been pointed out that over 500,000 Roma were killed in the Holocaust, and understating the death toll as Carr did is generally understood as a form of soft Holocaust denial (similarly way that if someone said “only a thousand Jews were killed in the Holocaust”, it has a diminishing effect).

Are they going to throw soup on the boards?

Yes, very funny. But no – Jimmy Carr Destroys Art was recorded on Wednesday, October 12, before the whole Van Gogh soup-throwing event, so it’s unlikely there’s a specific reference to that.

What else is airing as part of Channel 4’s Truth or Dare season?

There are a number of other such provocative programs planned for the 40e anniversary Truth or Dare, but highlights include the return of Ben Elton’s Friday Night Live, a Frankie Boyle special on the monarchy and a Prince Andrew musical.

When did Jimmy Carr destroy art on TV?

Oh, yes, sorry, the main reason you came to the article. The 75-minute special will air on Channel 4 on Tuesday, October 25 at 9 p.m.

Christopher S. Washington