ARTYFACTS: Blood on Paper - V&A

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blood on Paper - V&A

Books are made to be lifted, held, opened and browsed. So an exhibition of books behind glass is frustrates me. On the whole, the books that simply contained drawings and paintings were disappointing.

There's no shortage of 'names' - Bacon, Beuys, Bustamante, Caro, Debuffet, Giacometti, Hirst, Kapoor, Kiefer, Koos, Litchenstein, Long, Matisse, Miro, Motherwell, Picasso, Rauschenberg, Rego, Roth, Ruscha and others. Yet few make a significant statement on the 'book'.

The more interesting works are Anselm's Kiefer's The Secret Life of Plants that stands six foot tall, in lead across the doorway. Another Kiefer work lies at the back, a huge work, deliberately unliftable and unreadable. He seems to point to the limitations of the book - its size, format.

Hirst has a sculpture that bears no obvious link to books - a chest with folders and religious objects. It takes centre stage as it is a religious piece but just because something fits the theme, has Hirst on it, and is made of paper, doesn't make it relevant.

The show is laid out like a church and at the back is a deep Wound cutting through the pages by Anish Kapoor.

It's a shame they didn't tackle the BIG issue- books and screens. The screen is transforming our view of text, making it more accessible, searchable and hyperlinked. This is far more radical than anything seen here.


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