Saturday, 6 November 2010

Tate Britain

I popped into Tate Britain today, and some changes have been made. No sign of Draper's 'Lament For Icarus' or Waterhouse's 'Saint Eulalia' anymore. Instead we have more rooms than ever of minimalist blank canvasses, Damian Hurst's stupid dotty offering and some photos of the tights bunny thing. On one wall, something resembling a crooked ladder was stuck up. Another room was sealed off, with a real ladder lying in the middle of the floor, glimpsed through a tear in some plastic sheeting. The sign read 'room closed for installation'. I LOLd. I'm still not sure if the ladder was waiting for some workmen or whether it was itself the installation.

There were a few interesting new things, like a Harrier jet hanging from the ceiling, and I did yawn once or twice looking at some of Constable's paintings, by contrast. Obviously the spectacle of a jet fighter hanging nose down inside classical building is novel and visually more impressive than a painting of trees, but I don't call it art and I don't buy all the artist, Fiona Banner's pseudo-intellectual justification for the idea, which I suspect was made up after the idea was thought of. (There was another jet further on which was parked upside down. Upside-downness is a favourite theme of modernists, as Burdick observed).

By and large my opinion is that if you want to call yourself an artist, what you exhibit should be a product of your hand as well as your mind, and it shoud involve skill in composition and execution. Recycled aircraft and simplistic abstract paintings don't qualify.

Galleries like this tell the official story of art history, yet seem to conform to a particular ideology. People profess to appreciate this stuff and find it profound because they have been conditioned to, more often than not, and because they don't want to commit artistic heresy, or be labelled 'Philistine'. But of course only a fool can't see the splendid cloth of gold from which the naked Emperor's glorious costume is made.

1 comment:

  1. Depressing isn't it? I don't know why they can't just stick with pre-20th century art there and keep all that stuff at the tate modern.
    I wouldn't normally mind but whenever there's a new contemporary art exhibit we're told to go there (and pay) to see and write about artists like Offili and Whiteread..