ARTYFACTS: 60 Years of British Art - Hayward

Friday, January 12, 2007

60 Years of British Art - Hayward

Rare chat in gallery!
Had an interesting chat with some real people in the gallery - that's very rare in UK art galleries, where all is very reverential. While watching a 9 minute video by Gilbert and George (a bit of a trial) a couple of women passed in front of me, clearly dismissive of the posing pair and the very idea of watching them for any longer than a few seconds. I told them I'd persevere with the video and give them an opinion at the end. They did indeed ask my opinion - I thought they reeked of art school posturing, or those undergraduates that think they're Noel Coward for a couple of years, fops, faux peopledressing in tweed suits - all so very English. I'm not of that culture and found it fucking annoying. We then engaged in a long discussion about our likes and dislikes, joined by another man they seemed to know. We discussed some weird terms such as 'copper sulphate ' and 'potassium permangenate' - terms we hadn't heard since school (there's a Roger Hiorns engine caked in copper sulphate in the exhibition). People should talk more in exhibitions. there should be greeters, formal introductions and curator-led discussions all day and every day.

60 years
The Hayward promised to give me a fill of post-war British art. It did, but did it disappoint? If this were 60 years of US art I'm sure I'd have come away surprised and exhilarated, wit a ocnstant flow of colour and innovation. But Britain stuttered through the last 60 years, and I came away with a sort of shrug of the shoulders. It reeked of art school, shabby studios and dungarees.

Bridget Riley smacked of computer-generated art, Barbara Hepworth of sixties coffee tables, Hiller of amateur movies, Hirst of overexposure. I did like the Lucas self-portraits, especioally the one with the fired eggs and the one great piece - Bacon's screamoing Pope, incidentally one of the oldest - 1949.


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