Mark Wallinger’s ID – A Conversation (Part Three).

On May 1st, Richard Guest & I visited Mark Wallinger’s show  ID  at Hauser & Wirth London W1. Afterwards, we discussed the show by email. The following is the result of several weeks’ electronic toing and froing. You can read part Two here:

fresco of hands

Mark Wallinger’s Ego

…David: In the way you describe it, Ego comes across as a possibly disingenuous but certainly disarming glimpse behind the scenes at the moment of artistic creation in 2016. I like to think the ink under his fingernails is from the Id paintings, and Ego represents a kind of dumb show which shows the conscious perception of the creative moment in the mind of the artist in all its glory and shoddiness. Maybe it started as a sarcastic gesture of either satisfaction or dissatisfaction. I can see that it is in a way describing the meeting of our modern selves and our cultural past, but can it simultaneously subvert and promote the creative act? Wallinger seems to be saying this is nothing, but is also everything…can we absorb that paradox?

The Id paintings seem like a cathartic release of the need to paint, to make marks and of course the need to make big canvasses to fill that huge space. Can’t do that with a couple of sheets of A4. They are giant Rorschach tests, no more, no less. On the one hand they seem to be a weak echo of Yves Klein’s Body paintings , on the other because they are so many and they are all the-same-but-different they seem to be devaluing and denigrating the gestural mark in art.  Wallinger seems to be saying ‘marks are nice to look at and fun to make, but in the end one mark or the other – take your pick – call it a face or a cloud if you like – but it makes no odds. All that remains are just the marks. Everything else is your interpretation, based on the primitive parts of your brain that needed to make sense of abstract shapes when we were hunting in the wild and painting in caves. Sort of Anti-Impressionism. Anti-transcendence. We are not in the wild any more.

Mark Wallinger ID Painting 29 2015 Acrylic on canvas 360 x 180 cm / 141 3/4 x 70 7/8 in Photo: Alex Delfanne

Mark Wallinger ID Painting 29 2015 Acrylic on canvas 360 x 180 cm / 141 3/4 x 70 7/8 in Photo: Alex Delfanne

Richard: I’m not so sure…maybe this is a tentative (not so?) step in that direction. One definition of the Id is: the part of the mind in which innate instinctive impulses and primary processes are manifest. Are these paintings titled Id because Wallinger followed his instinct to make marks with his own hands, rather than develop another clean, cool, detached neo-conceptual work? Or has he found a conceptually acceptable excuse to be a painter again (I’m interested in their conception. The canvases are divided vertically down the middle, so that the two sides of the painting roughly mirror each other. There are variations in some marks, which underlines the hand-made quality. But in some of the paintings there are clear central dividing lines, like the ones you get if you try to create a mirror image in image manipulation software (such as Photoshop) (very difficult to get rid of, believe me…) Which makes me wonder whether MW created his images digitally and then used them as a model for the eventual paintings).

They look like they were a lot of fun to make (and I’m disturbed that so many of them suggest to me scenes from Star Trek). And I’d hazard MW was a lot more physically involved (he, not a studio assistant, made these – they are effectively massive finger paintings) in the creation of the final objects than he was with Ego and Superego, so there’s a lot more of him present in the Id works.

Proportionally, the paintings take up a lot of space at Hauser & Wirth. If this show is about the act of creation, which I think it is, does this mean Wallinger is placing more value on the Id than the Ego and Superego in the creative act? Do you think the paintings have more worth as works (and consequently monetary value)?

Mark Wallinger id Painting 56 2015 Acrylic on canvas 360 x 180 cm / 141 3/4 x 70 7/8 in Photo: Alex Delfanne

Mark Wallinger id Painting 56 2015 Acrylic on canvas 360 x 180 cm / 141 3/4 x 70 7/8 in Photo: Alex Delfanne

David: It clearly is no accident that the paintings are linked to the primitive part of the brain, and photographs and printing are linked to the conscious. Photographs capture an image of something that already exists. The moment of the shutter opens is the moment of cognisance: analogous to the awakening of consciousness of the ego as it observes the world and perceives its own distance from it. Paintings – particularly abstract expressionist paintings like the kind the id paintings reference – seek to be making visible the viscera of the internal subconscious without reference to external reality. The Id paintings feel like therapy, but their context points to an ironical rather than a straight reading of them. Freud was a long time ago and any reference to him feels retro, knowing – like wearing a tweed jacket and smoking a pipe.

To me it is like this. Wallinger feels (deep down in the unconscious part of his brain) the need to make art. He gets a three metre canvas (well, he gets quite a few of them because after all he has a big show coming up) and starts to finger paint black on white in a sort of planned-unplanned way. It feels honest and direct; but Wallinger is reflective and oblique. Maybe he did do a digital version first. But I think the tactile element is important here. Having made a couple of id paintings he sits back with a coffee and a cigarette (reaching a bit here). In this contemplative moment of self-awareness he sees himself clearly. He is a creator of work, yes. But the work is unsatisfactory, tawdry, second-hand. And unbidden the image of the Sistine Chapel comes to mind. He compares himself to Michelangelo…maybe arrogantly, maybe abjectly. He touches his own fingers together in a sardonic act. Both acknowledging and taking the piss out of his own self, his work and his situation as a leading contemporary artist. He is in that moment God, Adam and Wallinger. Then another level of mind above all that kicks and and says “hey, you know what? That might be a work there you know?” Ego is born. It is rather a feeble specimen next to the lusty Id paintings and the cold, blank Superego and I wonder who might have the courage to buy it ahead of the other larger archivally made gallery fillers…

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Mark Wallinger’s ID – A Conversation (Part One).

On May 1st, Richard Guest & I visited Mark Wallinger’s show  ID  at Hauser & Wirth London W1. Afterwards, we discussed the show by email. The following is the result of several weeks’ electronic toing and froing.

Superego 2016 Stainless steel, glass mirror, motor 350 x 160 x 160 cm / 137 3/4 x 63 x 63 in Photo: Alex Delfanne

Wallinger’s Superego 2016 Stainless steel, glass mirror, motor 350 x 160 x 160 cm  Photo: Alex Delfanne

David: Firstly let me confess that I don’t know much about Mark Wallinger or his work apart from the copies of the Stubbs horse paintings which I prefer to the originals but consider pretty pointless. What (unusually) made me want to see this show were some reviews of it that I saw. I didn’t read them too closely but the fact they reached me in my bunker caused me to think that Hauser and Wirth are trying to reshape the critical landscape that art inhabits in a way that hasn’t been done (in London at least) since White Cube thrust itself upon us about fifteen years ago, and in a way that say Anthony d’Offay or the Lisson gallery have in the past. Is there a bit of a curatorial turf war in progress and is Mark Wallinger a pawn or a player? Or should I just be looking at the work?

Richard: I can see H&W as a hipper D’Offay (a gallery I used to love). Not sure what MW’s role is, but the exhibition’s an interesting one. The works I think of when I think of MW are Ecce Homo (1999) (a human-sized Jesus on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square), State Britain (2007) (a recreation in Tate Britain of peace campaigner Brian Haw’s anti-war protest display outside Parliament) and a video work called Angel. They were all conceptual works to a certain extent, but ones that had a strong emotional effect.

Shall we talk about the work in the order we saw it?

David: Well, the show comprises just six works (although one is a series of paintings) sparsely occupying the two pristine HW spaces on Saville Row. The first piece we saw in the South Gallery was Superego (2016) which is essentially a large mirrored triangular prism mounted on a rotating pole about three metres off the ground in the centre of a large bare room. I was watching it for a little while before it dawned on me that it was a replica of the famous Scotland Yard Sign with mirrored faces. The mirrors reflect only the room, and first I read it just as an optical toy, but then when I remembered where I had seen the shape before and it assumed another meaning in my mind (and probably only in my mind). The blankness of the mirrored facets reflecting the empty gallery although defining the motion in a hypnotic way seemed to imply a mindless automaton –  a machine efficiently ruling an empty world, indifferent to the futility of its task. Is this some kind of comment about the Met Police or is Wallinger just appropriating and abstracting a familiar shape in a way derivative of Jasper Johns’ Flag? (Amazing how much contemporary art seems to owe to that piece – much more than to Duchamp or anyone it seems to me).

Richard: Wallinger likes to play with British (pop cultural) icons – he displayed a shiny, super-reflective, Tardis at the Hayward Gallery in 2009 (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space, 2001). In that case, it looked as if Doctor Who’s police-box-shaped time machine was dematerialising in front of the viewer. The police again…

My gut feeling is that Wallinger is taking the Johns route, which coincidentally (or not) brings with it a certain amount of wry comment (in the 1970s, to the little kid me, the revolving sign, when seen on TV news, communicated the idea of law and order, and the authority (and possible omniscience) of the police. And did it succinctly. Who else had a revolving sign in the UK at the time? – it was positively space age!).

So with Superego, Mark Wallinger has stripped the object of its crime-fighting power and presents us with what? A deliberately dumb object. A symbol of authority transformed into a decorative object. Where Superego differs from Johns’ Flag is that the flag is in an ongoing relationship with the nation it represents. Wallinger’s Superego is time-locked to a certain extent; I feel like there is a definable demographic who would “get it”.

Definition:

superego

suːpərˈiːɡəʊ,-ˈɛɡəʊ,sjuː-/

noun

Psychoanalysis

noun: superego; plural noun: superegos; noun: super-ego; plural noun: super-egos

  1. the part of a person’s mind that acts as a self-critical conscience, reflecting social standards learned from parents and teachers.

“the father is the model for the superego”

Of course, it may just be a revolving mirror, ha ha.

In any case, I like how big it is, and the fact that it seems, initially at least, not to be saying anything. Is it the odd-man-out in the exhibition?

David: Maybe it is just an image of our superego as the police force of the mind, tirelessly reflecting society and its values back at us. It could be that literal. It’s hard to say if it’s the odd one out because MW seems keen to avoid any deliberate pattern to his work – at least in appearance – but there is a Freudian theme to the titles in the show. There is a sentence in the gallerist blurb which made my heart sink as I read it : “Wallinger utilises Sigmund Freud’s terms id, ego and superego in an interrogation of the psyche, the self and the subject”.  Oh dear. I don’t know how much clinical weight Freud’s definition of levels of consciousness still carries as a description of the mind but in art they seem to be familiar labels. Too familiar, perhaps. But we are getting ahead of ourselves: we came to id and ego after superego in the North Gallery, so once again we are going round an exhibition backwards, but we seem to like it better that way!

Found myself driving by one of the roundabouts on the A10, close to Orrery’s location. I did not find my muse here though…

Found myself driving by one of the roundabouts on the A10, close to Orrery’s location. I did not find my muse here though…

As it was we came to the three video works next. For me the most persuasive of the three pieces was Orrery (2016) – four journeys around a roundabout made at different times of the year shown on four screens where the viewer was in the middle. It was quite a neat trick to turn the commonplace experience of driving around a roundabout into a description of the cosmos but the other two video pieces – a filmed shadow walk and a static tableau of a barber’s shop – were less successful for me.  I think we both have reservations about video in galleries, or maybe just short attention spans…did these work for you?

Richard: Yes, I liked Orrery and its air of flat artlessness (it made me feel nostalgic for video art in the Eighties (specifically the late night spot on our local ITV channel, which I watched religiously).

Ever Since (2012), the static tableau of a barber’s shop was interesting for having no discernible action taking place, and at first I thought it was one element of a video installation – Shadow Walker being the other part. There was a nice tension in the room between the static image of one and the relentless motion of the other. I liked the mystery of Ever Since. Seen in isolation, Shadow Walker reminded me of a lot of boring (not in a good way), handheld video made in the Nineties and 2000s). Watching someone’s (Wallinger?) shadow as they progress along a street from the perspective of a handheld camera quickly pales as a viewing experience. I’m sure this is the point, but I was impatient to get away from the video after a couple of minutes. Having said that, Shadow Walker creates a nice bit of visual noise, which destabilises the exhibition and keeps me interested in what Wallinger chose to show.

…(Part Two to follow)…

London Art Odyssey #1 Down the Hackney Road

HackneyRoad_01

Smile! You’re on the Hackney Road.

So many times we hear lip service paid to the concept of art outside the gallery. Usually from artists and gallerists who want to expand their ego or their selling space for nothing. But sometimes there are naturally occurring efflorescences of art in the real world. Driving down the Hackney Road, which is not somewhere I  used to go that often, I was amazed at the variety of street art. There are murals, painted hoardings and all sorts of other official and not so official graffiti. I decided to go back on foot and take a closer look. The trip along it on foot took me about twenty minutes from Shoreditch High Street up towards Mare St. It is one of those well trodden routes of London which are continually changing like a river bank as life flows along them. I did not see any actual galleries in the Hackney Road, but there was a lot to look at, and the pictures inspire you to look at other things around as if they were art too…better than most exhibitions in fact.

Not Dürer...

Not Dürer…

These artists know each other I am sure, but I don’t know who they are at all and I quite like that. I am instantly freed of the burden of trying to remember their names and contextualising their career.  Although I feel slightly like I am looking at their work like a zoologist would at the mating rituals of an exotic insect. What has been created – and I doubt it will last forever – is an amazing visually rich environment in the scuffed urban landscape.

There are themes that recur: a sort of ironic take on consumer culture, giant comics particularly science fiction ones, a sort of vaguely anti-capitalist paranoia, a little art history but the images are diverse and spontaneous – what’s more they are unafraid. They have nothing to lose – so unlike what is inside art galleries, where reputations and valuations around art brands are effectively straightjackets of style and we are fed an institutionalised version of innovation.

Hackney Road

Hackney Road

The ephemeral nature of painting on a hoarding frees the mind – this work feels honest and uninhibited, but because the practitioners have experience it is not unsophisticated. The Hackney Road painters are probably artists away from the street art too, but I suspect that the on-street work is the most true and expressive because it is a direct form of communication to people who will actually see it as they pass by -all sorts of people,  not the self selected elite who choose to go to an art gallery. In their ‘real’ work I bet these artists are one way or another hidebound by the conventions of the art world in whichever area they have gravitated to, by trying to please that audience.

Here today, covered by Father Ted tomorrow...

Here today, covered by Father Ted tomorrow…

Distressed walls provide a natural aesthetic – it looks real because it is real. In a gallery that level of decay always feels false, but here it feels true. The flyposters, adverts and signs add – they are not just noise in the signal as they would be normally. The paintings compete on level terms with ads and signs and are integrating art into the area in a way no gallery could. There are little ‘site specific’ touches and  a lot of detail, so much detail in fact that I only spotted it when going through the photos afterwards. There is an amazing layering at work too, graffiti and overpainting are an integral part of the organic decay and rebirth that ties the work to the place. Some images have so much in them that even now I can’t spot it all –

 

MinervaSt_01

Minerva Street, corner of Hackney Road and details following

MinervaSt_02

Minerva Street

MinervaSt_03

Minerva Street

You can start to look at all things as if they were art. This beautiful bit of road painting was my favorite…

20 -20 vision in the Hackney Road

20 -20 vision in the Hackney Road

Probably The Best Blind Painter in Peckham (reprise and finale).

Sargy Mann - from his 2013 show at Cadogan Contemporary

Sargy Mann – from his 2013 show at Cadogan Contemporary

It was with tremendous sadness that I belatedly learned last night of the death of Sargy Mann a couple of months ago.

You can read his obituary here, and also my previous two posts about him and his work here (2013) and here (2014).

I was very fortunate to have been taught by Sargy at Camberweil and I still think often of his passion for drawing and painting. This passion led him to surmount the seemingly impossible challenge of painting when blind. When I remember how demanding he could be about painting, I know that he felt the potential of images keenly and was only too aware that anything less than the very best you could give was a wasted opportunity.

So long then Sargy, and thank you.

The Golden Donut Award

Anish Kapoor at the Lisson Gallery, 52-54 Bell Street

...and the award goes to...

…and the award goes to…

Anish Kapoor has become one of the most established British Artists of today. A bit of an irony since he started as an ‘outsider’ to the art establishment of the 1980s.

But that was a time when merely being from a different ethnic group sufficed to make you seem an ‘interesting’ artist; apparently we did not expect people with Indian heritage to be making European style contemporary art back then. Although he was obviously not the first, he did synthesise the two cultures quite neatly. His use of loose pigment in bright colours on top of simple geometric forms displayed on the floor was fresh and appealing. The pigment recalled an Indian tradition, the forms a more modern kind of minimal European one.

Classic 1980s Kapoor. Image: Tate

Classic 1980s Kapoor. Image: Tate

The work was not overly intellectual or emotionally involving, but carrying just enough of the right kind of artistic baggage to be let into the Fine Art club. It was instantly recognisable and marketable – he became one of the golden stars of the Lisson Gallery pantheon, the success of whom made Nicholas Logsdail seem the Svengali of the minimal. Much art at the Lisson is very ‘cool’ in tone – detached and ironically self aware.

Spin the clock forward thirty years to this new Lisson Gallery show and there is something new on offer. Paintings of resin and silicon. Meant to suggest meat, flesh and blood they hang on the wall thick and overpoweringly heavy and red. The dense physicality of the resin stretching across these huge works does have impact: almost defiling that clean and ordered space. For contrast there are a couple of more familiar mirror surface curved forms and a couple of stone floor sculptures – very smooth and cool.

New work does not meat expectations...

New work does not meat expectations…

But it is all about the meat paintings. I say paintings, but really they are reliefs. They are not successful – they fall between various styles. Imagine a similar work done by Ron Mueck or the Boyle family – it would be rivetingly hyper-real. Or imagine it done by Leon Kossoff – it would have the full emotional impact of flesh riven from the bone. Or even dear old Damien Hirst. He would leave us in no doubt about the reality of the situation, or the sensual high to be had by examining the decay of our flesh.

There is none of this. The blurb invokes Rembrandt, Soutine and Bacon, it should not. These works are neither a visceral realistic recreation of meat nor an imaginative equivalent. The colours are wrong – too simple to be real and yet somehow to descriptive to be painterly. Instead we are faced with something akin to a slasher film which has no plot, and hopes that buckets of fake gore will do the trick. Some weak minded punters may get a cheap thrill, but even for them I suspect that feeling will fade real quick. You can’t condemn an artist for trying something new, but I don’t think he will be remembered for this work.

The qualities of the resin beguiled him into making this leap, but on their own they cannot support it – Kapoor would love to regard himself as a painter, but he has been too cool to get his hands dirty up to now, but now it is too late.

He appears very interested in surfaces. He is a superficial artist – in the best possible sense. He allows the surface more prominence than other sculptors. His form merely allows the surface to display its properties – colour, reflection, absorption and so on. A while back I met a fabricator who had worked for him when I was teaching a 3D modelling class. I remarked that some of the sculptures at his previous Lisson show (this was in 2007) looked like a Maya primitive object with one or two vertices pulled out and then carved or cast on a large scale in a material with a gorgeous surface. He agreed, and said that was pretty much the case. But in a way this allows the simple forms to speak, and that is all to the good.

Some say his work is spiritual, but I would say that it is – to me anyway – blank. Perhaps my spiritual life is void, but I would suggest any spirituality seen in this work is a cultural overlay brought by the viewer. Who cares though, when the surfaces are this delicious?

you can see the centre of the universe from here.

You can see the centre of the universe from here.

Indiscreet Interventions

Sasha_03

Sasha Bowles ‘Conker Spine’ at the Standpoint Gallery

 

 

No-one Lives in the Real World at the Standpoint Gallery N1  Sasha Bowles et al

Tom Butler at the Charlie Smith Gallery

 

A rare foray into the twilight throng of private views led us to Hoxton this evening. It was a long pilgrimage as we were driving from the West End at 7 p.m. Highly inadvisable, but one of us didn’t want to get wet. The welter of activity does not diminish heading east, but it does take on a different character, especially in the evening. There is, even to my jaded eye, a little hint of freedom in the air. The usual urban nonsense as well of course, but also the faintest promise that something new and exciting might lie around any corner waiting to be discovered.

Hoxtonista

Hoxtonista

We caught two shows with some common ground and some differences. At the Standpoint – a converted ground floor industrial space – there was a group show featuring a number of artists including Sasha Bowles…declaration of interest – we (that is Mrs Eyeball and myself), own two of Sasha’s pictures and we like them very much! Sasha’s work was delightfully hung in a gated lift. There was a lot of other work too, but the crowd was too thick for me to really see it. At the Charlie Smith gallery a much more mellow space upstairs above the Reliance pub there was a solo show of molested Edwardian photographs. The private view there was in full swing and the red dots were flying. The gallerist looked ecstatic, as far as one can behind a beard the size of a small dog.

This lift is going Up!

This lift is going Up!

Both of these artists were showing paintings executed over other images. Painting on photographs, printed images and indeed other paintings has a long history, but I have never really got on with it until recently. I guess (without googling) that it was the Dadaists (probably Picabia) who originated it. But now it seems more apposite since images are as plentiful as leaves and as easy to come by as blank pieces of paper. More so even. But not all over-paintings are equal. Some have a positive character I think, others negative.

Tom Butler defacing or refacing...

Tom Butler defacing or refacing…

Sometimes over-painting is a trivial defacement (often literally as in the case of the Chapman brothers’ ‘one day you will no longer be loved‘ series). This is a simple act of taking an image of the past and vandalising it as if to say: that is what whoever made this cared about or was paid to care about, but it’s not important anymore, I would rather look at a cube, or a mutilated version of your face etc. This is essentially nihilistic and destructive and after the first smirk of amusement they serve only as reminders that we would rather destroy the past than understand it. Which is fine in a way but we are not really replacing it with anything, so we have to keep destroying unique artefacts to make us seem as creative as we feel. Tom Butler is in this camp, I fear. Not as bad as the Taliban blowing up Buddha statues, but going along the same path.

Sasha’s overpainting on the other hand seems to me to be an altogether more positive enterprise. By carefully choosing seductively familiar but not obvious art works and then painstakingly painting over (in this case) miniature reproductions of them in a way that feels at once part of the original and a subversive intervention. Using a reproduction, only the idea of the image has been altered. The original still exists for you to look at whenever you choose to wake from the dream of fairy fungus and phantom draperies that have sprouted in Sasha’s versions. It is a dialogue with one’s memory of an image and one’s sense of how it could have been, could become. And that, to me, is a fascinating way of creating tension in a world impossibly saturated by imagery.

 

Sasha Bowles

Sasha Bowles

Lunch in Mayfair – Bring Your Own Potato

Julian Opie Ruth Smoking £6,000

Julian Opie Ruth Smoking £6,000

 

Evening and Day Editions at Phillips Berkeley Square, 22nd January.

 

Although we live in a world where we can access all sorts of content free and on demand, it seems that most people still want to own physical things that are somehow culturally important to them, that express something about them. We can call it art, we can call it shopping. We may admire the work of Rembrandt or Gerhard Richter in galleries and museums but most individuals are unable to come up with the tens of millions needed for a major original. But what if you want something for a little bit less?

You could of course just steal one, but even presuming that you could get away with it (and like me you have no moral qualms), you could never really show it to anyone. And you might feel a bit like a Nazi war criminal.

So you have to consider copies, acknowledged and unacknowledged,  or you  could just print out the highest resolution image on the internet and hang that on the wall instead. And why not? Now for a major Rembrandt or Richter oil painting, it would obviously not have all the qualities of the original and scale would still be an issue unless you have a very large printer. But for a drawing or a print at the correct scale on a similar paper, the artefact might be physically close enough to bear looking at. But there is no connection to the artist, and that’s cold.

Now if you are talking about a cold artist: a Duchamp, a Warhol or conceivably a Polke, that might just be ok. But Picasso? No. I want to feel that my Picasso was blessed by his touch however briefly or even just his presence in the room. What might I be able to (maybe) afford one day that has that? The Multiple: museum quality art for a fraction of the price (ok it’s still pretty expensive), the only downside being that a couple of hundred other people have the exact same thing. But it is ‘market authentic’ – it is branded and the label still shows when you wear it, which is what you want.

Hodgkin at Gagosian

Hodgkin at Gagosian

Which brings me to the Phillips contemporary sale in their swanky new Berkeley Square rooms last month. I came across it by accident – I wandered down after I saw some Howard Hodgkin prints at Gagosian Mayfair and was thinking that they might be the kind of art you could actually live with – a domestic scale, colourful and with just enough content to hold your interest and not be corporate-bland and not so much content that it would forever dominate your room. And at the Phillips sale there was a whole menagerie of similar work. These were works blessed by the artists, or their estates, and all seemed like fairly good examples of mature work by artists we all recognise. Your dwelling could become a miniature Museum of Modern Art for under $100,000 – or less than the price of a posh car.

It’s not just prints though – the Multiple embraces editions of sculptures of all sorts even less obviously commercial ones like Kippenberger. Even Beuys shows his ironic appreciation of his commodification with his slogan Kunst = Kapital.

Beuys tells us how it is.

Beuys tells us how it is.

 

Yes, Joseph Art is Money, so what does that make this, precisely?  If Polke is your thing there was an intriguing Apparatus Whereby One Potato Can Orbit Another. An edition of 30, potato not included.

Sigmar Polke. A different kind of multiple

Sigmar Polke. A different kind of multiple

Providing a potato is the extreme limit of my curatorial prowess though. Anything that needs more maintenance than that can forget it. I am not an institution with staff. My pick would have been either one of the striking Francis Bacon prints or this lovely Picasso vase. Just have to be careful to put it somewhere safe…

pablo-vase

Breakable Picasso for £18,750