Survival Test for Art
Jonathan Jones offers an amusing idea on the Guardian's art blog, Culture Vulture. He notes how distracting the installation of Howard Hodgkin's work at the Tate Britian is (each room's walls are painted a different, apparently unpleasant color):
What is most distracting is the variety. If the entire show were hung against black walls, you would get used to it. The constant variation in background hue implies a running commentary - you wonder why the particular section you're in is one colour rather than another.But despite the distraction, Jones notes, the Hodgkins hold their own. This leads him to the aforementioned amusing idea:
Those sumptuous painted oval panels that look like they should be in a decaying stately home above a marble mantelpiece are exhibited in a setting as bizarrely inappropriate as if they were propped in the street. And they survive. The vulgar treatment reveals a core of scintillating imagination in Hodgkin's sensual smears that convinced me, who arrived a sceptic, that here is a real painter.A reader pricks Jones' balloon a bit in the comments:
So perhaps curators should deliberately subject artists to the most unhelpful display they can think of, just to see if the art can stand it. Video art should be shown in brightly lit galleries, or on primetime television before Dr Who. Drawings by Michelangelo should be exhibited at the White Cube gallery in London. Damien Hirst should show at the RA summer exhibition. Let chaos rule and quality glisten like a diamond in the morass.
It might be worth commenting that painting the walls of the gallery is Hodgkin's own request-cum-custom that first began when he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1984 - imperative to 'compliment' his paintings.But his conclusion is still light enough fare to make me wonder on a sunny Friday. Given an informed audience, would your average art video hold its own against primetime television? Would a contemporary drawing disappear among the masterpieces hanging in the Grande Galerie in the Louvre? Or is this just a silly idea?