10 October 2017 § Leave a comment
October is the very best time of year to see art in the capital. The city is abuzz with the latest blockbuster shows – 2017 brings Jasper Johns as well as Dali/Duchamp to the Royal Academy, Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Barbican and Rachel Whiteread is showing at the Tate. The commercial galleries have pulled out their biggest names – there are Jean Dubuffet at Pace, Jake & Dinos Chapman at Blain Southern and Anselm Kiefer & Robert Longo at Thaddeus Ropac. Meanwhile all the big names auction houses stage their autumn contemporary sales.
Frieze of course also comes to London, not only with the contemporary focused Frieze Art Fair, but the thriving Frieze Masters event just up the Regents Park footpath. The great and the good of the art world come together with a smattering of celebrity names to see the latest that the art world has to offer.
Our annual visit to Frieze is always highly anticipated. Not only to admire some great art but to also to discern new trends, see what the big names have on offer admire the most spectacular works – after all this is the biggest fair in the greatest city in the contemporary art world.
Yet still, and perhaps because of the anticipation, there is again a tinge of anti-climax. Are we expecting too much or could Frieze do better? Their gallery selection process doesn’t help – preferencing worldwide galleries means we seem to get mediocre work from perhaps Peru or Burkino Fasso at the expense of many excellent local galleries (is this not a London art fair after all?).
Gone are the bigger artists names and the spectacular and expensive works that graced earlier shows and we now seem to get more mid level and affordable (?) pieces – even from the big name galleries. One is left with the niggling impression that much of the best work is hidden away and that most of the deals are done back at their base.
The curated ‘Sex Work’ exhibition spread through the show failed to stir us and was rather tame. Still, this is the very best contemporary art fair in Britain, there is plenty of good art to be found and new names to be discovered. There is always something to surprise, people to meet and in the end, where else could you for example pick up a free Passport to Antartica?
Amongst our selection of what we noticed at this years fair were: Olafur Eliasson whose colour-shifting balls drew a large crowd whilst Eddie Peake was eye-catching as usual. We loved Ryan Mosley’s newest works, rather more colourful than usual and Mathew Ronay’s curious pastel-coloured and tactile sculptures. On the other hand Jeff Koon’s Glitterball Jesus and Hauser & Wirth’s Bronze Age pseudo museum display failed to inspire.
So, will we go back next year? Of course we will – and we’re looking forward to it already!
akickupthearts were guests of Frieze London
For more information visit www.frieze.com
3 October 2011 § Leave a comment
Or to give it its full title Postmodernism – Style and Subversion 1970-1990.
Strangely the V&A select a date period for the exhibition as postmodernism has always been a slippery thing to pin down. Does anybody really know when it started or when it finished – if indeed it has? It’s very nature – drawing heavily on the past whilst at the same time rejecting it with pastiche, irony and the subversion of the title – makes the whole era confusing to define and explain. In the sad absence of any attempt at definition by the V&A here is a copy of an amazing and almost unknown document that provides one of the only theoretical definitions.
Entitled ‘The Postmodern Manifesto’ and found, unpublished, by Jacques Derrida’s deathbed, it is also signed by the hugely influential thinkers Roland Barthes and Michel Foucauld (courtesy Brian Sewell in the Standard):
1. The art of the past is past. What was true of art yesterday is false today.
2. The Postmodern art of today is defined and determined, not by artists, but by a new generation of curators, philosophers and intellectuals ignorant of the past and able to ignore it.
3. Postmodernism is a political undertaking, Marxist and Freudian.
4. Postmodernism is a new cultural condition.
5. Postmodernism is democratic and allied to popular culture.
6. Postmodernism denies the possibility of High Art.
7. Postmodernism deconstructs works of High Art to undermine them.
8. Postmodernism is subversive, seditiously resembling the precedents it mimics.
9. Postmodern art is pastiche, parody, irony, ironic conflict and paradox.
10. Postmodern art is self-consciously shallow, stylistically hybrid, ambiguous, provocative and endlessly repeatable.
11. Postmodern art is anti-elitist, but must protect its own elitism.
12. To the Postmodernist every work of art is a text, even if it employs no words and has no title, to be curatorially interpreted. Art cannot exist before it is interpreted.
13. Postmodernist interpretation depends on coining new words unknown and unknowable to the masses, on developing a critical jargon of impenetrable profundity, and on a quagmire of theory with which to reinforce endowed significance. Vive le Néologisme!
Brian Sewell, clearly not a fan, dismisses postmodernism thus in an excellent essay in the Standard: “Once the distinctions between the visual arts and other forms of intellectual sustenance are blurred in the pan-cultural soup of Postmodernism, nothing means anything precisely, everything is individually interpretable by anybody, and the deliberately obscure language of this anybody or group of anybodies becomes an art form in itself, for in Postmodernism art and language are one and the same and everything is text.”
Oh well, but like it or not postmodernism has existed and been represented in many different ways in the fields of architecture, art, design, theatre and music. The V&A here attempt an overview of the whole movement, vastly ambitious and only vaguely successful. You leave no more knowledgeable about postmodernism but it is still an enjoyable ‘romp’ though the era – bright, brash, colourful and theatrical.
Art-lovers will note an almost complete absence of works but will find a nice sense of period. Working from a supposed beginning in architecture the exhibition runs helter-skelter through design, music, art, film and more. There are wonderful Sotsass pots, memorable pieces of Italian design and Memphis furniture. A clip from Blade Runner plays next to costumes from the film: Rachel’s office dress and the window-crashing replicant’s plastic mac. There are clips from Grace Jones, Talking Heads and Devo music videos plus items of costume – my highlight the ‘big suit’ of David Byrne‘s.
Eventually, after passing through a section on money – the Warhol dollar sign is of course there – the exhibition ends with a Robert Longo film and a large portrait featuring one of his convulsive figures (David Byrne drew on theses convulsions in his stage act by the way). The image is unsettling – is he falling, dancing or perhaps just been shot. We are of course not meant to know. The exhibition asks us therefore ‘Are we all post-modern now?’ Probably.
At the V&A until 15 January 2012
- Postmodernism at the V&A … more than ironic teapots and ugly chairs (guardian.co.uk)
- Postmodernism: the 10 key moments in the birth of a movement (guardian.co.uk)
- Design: Postmodern, but Not Especially Proud of It (nytimes.com)
- Postmodernism: style and subversion: 1970-1990, V&A, review (telegraph.co.uk)