On the Road in Bucharest

Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave. (Constantin Brancusi)

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Brancusi’s l’oiseau dans l’espace c 1932 (Bird in Space – Sold at Philips in NY for $100,000 in 2013)

I was whisked to Bucharest for work a week or so ago and although I didn’t have long, I did take a look at a couple of things. Although I was not really expecting the city to really be the Paris of the East, it did in some ways feel like that. There is the contrast between ornate Nineteenth century architecture and modern brutalist apartments, chaotic traffic and lots of graffiti. The women are very dressed up too, and there is a certain intense superficiality that feels Parisian. But people are a lot more friendly (how could they not be?) and the few tourists have even fewer places to eat. Its galleries and museums are also very different.

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Nicely shaded graffiti in Bucharest

After a long search for food one afternoon we visited the National Art Collections museum. A massive museum  which houses a spectacularly mediocre collection of post-impressionist Romanian art culled from individual collections that the state has acquired: it was a dispiriting experience. It is a large building with a handsome courtyard; there are several doors. When you go in you are not sure you have chosen the right one because there is no-one else to be seen. But in a little while a cloakroom attendant appears and directs you to the ticket office in the bowels of the establishment. There is a lot of stone on the floor and walls and everything echoes, you are still the only visitor in sight. When you get there and buy a ticket the lady gives you a map and tells you at length the route to take in order to see absolutely everything. But museum fatigue sets in around about the second room and you realise you are never going to make it. There are endless rooms of genre scenes, flowers landscapes charmless dingy daubs that break your will to look at art. But you are the only punters there and the staff (of whom there are many) are very keen to help you round and make sure that you see everything…so you go on. Room after room of hopeless stupidity of so many artists pursuing a goal with no vision and the equally terrible determination of the state to keep it all.

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The beautiful house where we were filming

But a Brancusi exhibition in the other National Gallery a bit further along the road was closed. Days passed. It was my last morning and it was raining hard. I had to walk all around the building (which is very large) to find the right door for the Brancusi show. I felt briefly like a pilgrim. When I found it, my faith in looking at art was restored because although only two small rooms, it was a gem of a show. Black & white photographs of Brancusi’s studio in Paris that he took himself shortly after being taught how to use a camera by Man Ray. They are breathtakingly atmospheric, and totally fill you with the aura of creativity of that time and of the man himself. Beautifully composed, the forms breathe next to one another – they seem relaxed in a way that they never could in a gallery, freshly created or still coming into being. Behaving naturally like animals in their natural habitat rather than a zoo.

Charmingly, also in the gallery there was a little stand with wood, marble and metal and tools to cut and polish them to give the visitor an idea of Brancusi’s favourite materials, without safety restrictions.959549-Brancusi_studio,_Le_Baiser_1923-1925,_La_Colonne_sans_fin,_detruite_ulterieurement,_La_Colonne_sans_fin_I_v._1925,_LOiseau_dans_lespace,_marbre_blanc_1925

Brancusi was of course Romanian, but he went to live and work in Paris, the Paris of the West with the rude French people. The crumbling legacy of the Ceausescu era lies quite close to the surface here and much of value has, like Brancusi, gone to find richer pastures.

I was dismayed to learn that in Paris you can visit a reconstruction of this studio, which cannot be anything but a soulless theme park. Paris may have all the crowds at its celebrated shows, but there is something in Bucharest of life that is still felt and experienced directly in a way that some more sophisticated places have forgotten.

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Romanians saying what we all feel from time to time. In the men’s toilets at the Fire Bar in Bucharest.

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Beauty Lies In Ruins

From the British Museum

From the British Museum

  • Meekyoung Shin – Written in Soap Cavendish Square 2012-?
  • A visit to the British Museum 2015
  • Josie Spencer in Golden Square 2014 -5
  • Bob Dylan at the Halcyon Gallery 2014
  • Anselm Kiefer at the RA 2015

Are the ruins of art sometimes more beautiful than the art when it was new? If we think so, is it just us nowadays that think this? And is there a way that the elusive beauty of ageing can be harnessed when making new work? Some folk like new art, some like old art. But for those of us that like both, there are some interesting pathways between them.

Anselm Kiefer Interior-(Innenraum), 1981

Anselm Kiefer Interior-(Innenraum), 1981

Kiefer clearly sensed the change that comes over architecture when it becomes ruined. Imagining the ruins of a thousand year reich that could have been gave him some of the strongest images that he has produced. These paintings access the part of our consciousness that appreciates the beauty of ruins even though they may be the  carcass of a long dead tyranny. We are awed by might, and the passage of time removes any guilt at its origins when we admire its works.

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Josie Spencer in Golden Square

Josie Spencer’s sculptures in Golden Square are built to resemble cracked and damaged statues. But they are neither – they are whole and new and as the artist conceived them.  Somehow they still look new though – next to the whole and only slightly eroded statue of George II which the pigeons seem to prefer. Somehow their choice of subject and presentation marks them out. But they do raise the question of completeness which arises when you see a fragment or something pretending to be a fragment of work from the distant past.

George II - the pigeon's friend

George II – the pigeon’s friend

In Cavendish Square there is another sculpture with a rather more oblique and interesting take on the processes of decay and ruination.

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Meekyoung Shin’s Written in Soap 2012

Korean artitst Meekyoung Shin’s Written in Soap is a straight version of a marble equestrian statue, but made in soap. It has been there since 2012, originally scheduled as a one year project it is still there today. The erosion of detail being slower than I expected but still helping us reflect on the changing meanings of sculpture as it becomes historical. Interestingly, the pigeons don’t seem so fond of this one.

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Meekyoung Shin’s Written in Soap in 2015.

Ruins and fragments can be beautiful. They can evoke the distant times and places better than any exact reconstruction. Maybe not entirely accurately, but very vividly. In Bob Dylan’s strange exhibition at the Halcyon gallery he exhibited old car doors with bullet holes alongside the biographies of various old-time gangsters. No-one understands myth making better than Bob and he used these manufactured fragments to convey them because they are so potent.

Dylan. Someone has been more than knock knock knocking on this door.

Dylan. Someone has been more than knock knock knocking on this door.

Some ruins beautiful to us do not look as they once did. Maybe we wouldn’t like them as they originally were – painted Greek temple sculpture for example. But we don’t care; if we have the artefact it is somehow more authentic than if a contemporary artist was to remake that work exactly as it originally was. Time is the greatest artist – it can reduce the monumental to rubble but enhance a humble domestic object with patina. This ruined head at the top of this post struck me when I went to the British Museum recently. I loved the damage which seemed to be so integral to it, and made it so much more poignant than if it had been part of an undamaged whole. Its original meaning was only a shadow.

Sometimes you look at a broken fragment but if it is beautiful you can see it as a whole thing. You forget it was ever part of something else. There is an instant when you decide how to see it. If you are very quick you can just about catch your brain at it. You can either see the object as it is – the physical arrangement of matter – and take it as an independent fact. Or you can see it as a fragment of a larger whole – a broken piece, a body of work, the culture of a civilisation or a century.

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.

Talkin’ Serra (part two)

Concluding part of a visit to Richard Serra at the Gagosian Gallery in King’s Cross with David Cook and Richard Guest. (continued from here)

Richard Serra's Backdoor Pipeline photo by David Cook

Richard Serra’s Backdoor Pipeline photo by David Cook

Richard: Ha, ha, yes, that’s a fair summary – if I feel I know an artist’s work a bit (and in Serra’s case I think back to a big Saatchi show in the Eighties), I don’t particularly want to see more of the same; I want to learn and experience something new. With London Cross I had a strong feeling of “file under Richard Serra”. But like you say, it does have that sense of threat about it (but without the visceral thrill at the Saatchi show that these things could fall on you at any moment and squash you flat), and a scale that tells you there is something bigger in the room than you.

The walls of the room got me thinking – they (hardboard? Temporary. Painted white in an even rollered texture) are very similar to the ones in Tate Britain and Modern and Saatchi), don’t give you the impression you’re in a real room. I wonder whether this robs the work of its power to a certain extent – the threat is weakened because you are standing in an unreal space – you have temporarily stepped out of “reality” into a zone of art contemplation. How important do you think context is to these works?

An aside: Kim Gordon (visual artist and former member of Sonic Youth) in her autobiography, Girl In A Band (2014, Faber & Faber) (it’s an excellent read by the way), says that she knew Larry Gagosian as a teenager and at the time, “[Larry] sold schlocky, mass-produced prints of works by contemporary artists…in cheap, ugly metal frames”. Later she says, “He was…the last person on the planet I would have ever thought would later become the world’s most powerful art dealer.”

David: Well it makes it very clear that the gallery is really a showroom. This fact usually isn’t that manifest though – but because Serra’s work has the durability of Stonehenge almost, it makes the gallery seem very transient. Which it obviously is. I don’t remember thinking anything like that about the Saatchi show, which I also remember clearly. That was like being with some dangerous animals in an open enclosure. This show felt a bit more like a pet shop!

Some works are more self-contained though – they bring their own space with them and don’t rely on the space of the gallery in the same way. I am thinking in particular about ‘Backdoor Pipeline’ which is a work I think we both found intriguing. Two sheets of half-inch steel – corroded to a uniform brown rust colour – folded into a curved tunnel that you are invited to walk through. Is it too literal to view this as some kind of birthing metaphor? Or given the title are we being excreted when we walk out of the other end?

Richard: Given the shape of the entrance, I’d say Serra was strongly hinting at a birth canal. This is a very different experience to London Cross. Insomuch as a Serra can be seductive, this is. I can imagine sitting inside it for hours; the way the light from the other opening reveals itself and gently illuminates the interior curve is very satisfying. It looks as if Backdoor Pipeline has spent a lot of time outside in the rain – it’s a weathered-looking soft brown. The patina lends the metal a warmth the other works in the show lack. After the metal pseudo-graveyard which is Ramble, Backdoor Pipeline seems positively organic!

Richard Serra's Backdoor Pipeline photo by David Cook

Richard Serra’s Backdoor Pipeline photo by David Cook

 

David: Ramble for me is the least successful piece. It was just an obstacle between London Cross and Backdoor Pipeline. But it shares a slight hint of the representational with the latter. We both found that hint slightly atypical for Serra’s work and I think that is significant.

Overall I was struck by the muteness of all his work – of a lack of direct reference to modern culture, life and imagery. Air travel, the internet, photography: all are absent. These sculptures are as mute as the Easter Island statues, or Stonehenge. Like ‘Henge, the only real cultural reference it contains is the use of a very particular material – in Serra’s case rolled steel. This is something that future archaeologists will be able to trace to the late 20th Century, and probably to specific parts of the US. But as to why we transported these huge bits of metal across oceans there will be no clue.

I would be happy to use the word monumental to describe his work but the question is – a monument to what?

Richard: Yes, I think Serra’s work ignores all but the basic experiences of life: birth, obstacles, death. Maybe he thinks nothing else is worth confronting: no other subject matter would create the same visceral reaction in the viewer.

What makes writing about these sculptures so difficult is that a big part of the experience of seeing them is the sheer scale of the things. Without being in their presence, their power is greatly diminished – as ideas what are they?

David: They are difficult to write about because not only are they infuriatingly blank, but they do also have enormous presence. In the sense though that the humans walking around in the space are part of the work I think it is more akin to an installation than a sculpture, and that dictates the scale. I don’t think that is a factor when talking about Don Judd or Carl Andre whose work seems more about shape, arrangement, the play of light and so on. Serra’s work is more of a place than a thing.

Serra was born in 1939 and I think World War 2 has influenced his work. For some postwar artists it made human representation impossible and Serra, even though a generation younger than Pollock et al, saw no way to include any direct representation. But unlike say Judd or Andre whose work seems dedicated to formal beauty and harmony (feel free to disagree!), Serra is trying to monumentalise an abstract version of the human spirit. Or parts of it anyway. Almost as if he had been an alien trying to reconstruct us from radio telescope information without knowing what we looked like and then project it back to us in a way we can feel but we can’t see; bypassing the conscious part of the brain which is so obsessed with images and patterns.

David in Backdoor Pipeline photo by Richard Guest

David in Backdoor Pipeline photo by Richard Guest

 

 

Talkin’ Serra (part one)

A visit to Richard Serra at the Gagosian Gallery in King’s Cross with David Cook and Richard Guest.

Gagosian Gallery intercom by Richard Guest

Gagosian Gallery intercom by Richard Guest

Richard: This is a space I’ve not visited before; you told me it was big, so I was anticipating scale. And Serra’s work is big and heavy and metal and I was fully expecting lots of slabs of steel resting against each other in precarious, dangerous-looking ways. Only one work disappointed me by living up to this and that was London Cross.
Given that the siting of Serra’s work is so important, I found the entrance to the exhibition really interesting. You enter the gallery through a reception area with a desk to your left. There’s a shop/ office next to it, and straight ahead openings to two exhibition spaces. To your right a spiral staircase suggests there is a second floor (but it’s closed to the public), and beyond this lies another opening/ doorway. No work is immediately visible.  It’s a curiously blank way to begin an exhibition – the lighting is cold – it filled me with a kind of sense of funereal expectation.  David, you’ve seen other shows in this gallery – was the set-up similar with them or is this something specific to the Serra?
David: I have seen three shows here before – Cy Twombly, Georg Baselitz and Jenny Saville. All painters and all working to a scale directly aimed at institutional buyers (by the gallery if not by the artist). I find it a pretty cold space to be honest, but the calibre of artists cannot be ignored. I think that there are similarly huge spaces now with a bit of character and warmth, but this feels like a temple of high seriousness. Richard Serra is in many ways a perfect artist for it.

I think it is very hard not to have preconceptions about Serra’s work once you have seen a couple. It is very uncompromising and monolithic. Or monometallic. It causes spaces to be constructed around it rather than fit in to existing ones. I think that is a huge plus – it stakes a claim for art to be in the modern world, to occupy space. Art is very easily marginalised and made into decorative or bland wall covering. Serra’s work stands its ground and so tends to divide opinion.

This show consists of only four pieces. The space, as you say, is huge: but it is very amply filled by these four works. I find that simplicity very refreshing. He is not trying to spin his themes out into untold variations, but seems content to let each one speak.

Richard: I like it that the exhibition is so pared down – simplicity makes it memorable. And it functions as a showcase: each of the four works acts as a representative of a distinct strand of Serra’s work (each with its own scale). The walls are white, the floors poured, polished concrete; it looks like an art institution. All of which makes the gallery seem like a shop built for the busy buyer. You made a very interesting point when we were walking around about imagining the works in a carpeted space – it’s very difficult to see these works being owned by an individual. Who do you think would buy these works?

David: Well, someone with more than a big garden and an understanding partner. Quite a few of his big works are commissioned – and not just by plutocrats who put them in front of the offices they own to intimidate their employees. Although I think there might be a bit of that…a few of the public commissions have been controversial like Tilted Arc, because of his ‘marmitey’ quality. And that raises the question of who art in public spaces is really *for*. Does it have to be so bland that no-one dislikes it even though it means no-one actually likes it? Or is it the taste of an elite being oppressively imposed on those of us who live/work/study in these places?

Interestingly (at least according to Wikipedia) the top price for a Serra sculpture is only $1.65m (and that was back in the 1980s). So compared to some artists of lesser stature he is a bargain! But the imposing character of the work makes it difficult to live with I guess… although, interestingly, the drawings are relatively expensive. Easier to live with, obviously. But it bucks the otherwise universal trend of bigger = more expensive. Almost all art obeys this, but maybe there is a point on the size graph where the price per artistic square inch goes down?

London Cross by David Cook

London Cross by David Cook

Richard: That’s a really interesting notion – is there a maximum size beyond which an artwork becomes de trop and therefore in some way suspect? – like a balloon with a potentially dangerous volume of gas inside.

Anyway, the first room we entered contained London Cross. This for me was the least successful of the four works. It did what I expected a Richard Serra sculpture to do – it was big and flat and heavy and looked precariously balanced. What I remember talking about in this room was how the work had been installed…

David: I am fascinated by your reaction to this piece because as far as I can tell, you are disappointed because it met your expectations! For most people I think, the works they like best in any show are the ones that conform most closely to the ideal of their expectation. They come to a exhibition with a pre-imagined experience and live it out when they are going round the gallery. And I don’t exclude myself from that either. Sometimes it’s hard for a viewer to spontaneously absorb non-canon works where an artist moves away from a core style, but that is what a creative artist who is not stuck in a rut will do!

London Cross is from the core Serra style, and the room had clearly been constructed around the work – and in a lot of ways the work is more solid than the building that supports it. The cross piece hangs overhead in a vaguely threatening way, but as it is obviously well supported it is an abstract threat. Its weight, material and scale suggest it is more than simply a way of dividing space.

Perhaps our image of Serra in the UK is a bit narrow and very much shaped by the Broadgate sculpture [http://www.broadgate.co.uk/art/Fulcrum], because looking at his work as a whole the other pieces in this show are not in fact so atypical. Am I/we really so parochial?

Alien Santa Has Landed

Matthew Barney2

Matthew Barney – Crown Victoria

 

Matthew Barney Crown Zinc   at Sadie Coles Hq

The centrepiece of the show is the large sculpture ~ Crown Victoria

It looks like a prop from the unmade Alien Christmas special. The one where Alien Santa comes down from space with some rather scary black reindeer and drops egg pods at the foot of children’s beds.

What I find disturbing is the very obvious influence of Joseph Beuys (whose undying fan I am as all readers of this blog should be aware). But it seems very literal and half digested here. Beuys was a genuine sociopath and his psychic bond with the strange materials he used was instinctive, charismatically shamanistic. Felt, tallow, brown floor paint etc – these were fetishes in a shamanistic sense of having a devotional quality that connected the artist with the wider reality. This use of materials made Beuys a unique artist, it gave him power that other artists using traditional materials (oil paint, stone etc) or randomly found materials could not match.

Ah! The vitrine...

Ah! The vitrine…

Here Barney seems to be trying to develop the same level of mania as Beuys for his materials but it’s not compelling, and it does not feel genuine. The drawings feel mannered and derivative. The use of the vitrine feels false. The evidence of some sort of chemical processes (oxidation and crystallisation) likewise. The show is very well presented – it brings out the best aspect of the work and the works themselves must be achingly expensive to produce – some pieces are cast in silver, zinc and brass. But it feels literally and metaphorically too polished. The metaphor of alchemy is apt – showy, promising much but ultimately without basis and doomed to barren failure.

Beuys’ art came from a very deep visceral place. Some of it made absolutely no sense even when, perhaps especially when, he explained it…but you could feel the connection of the earthly, the human and the transcendent. This is clearly what Barney is aiming at – because there is a large chunk of the blurb devoted to Norman Mailer’s Ancient Evenings – an overwritten factional tome about ancient Egypt. This conscious evocation is not enough. We need to sacrifice a goat, a virgin…anything at all. Without it there will be no divine answer for this unworthy prayer.

 

I know, let’s rewrite history!

Frieze Sculpture in Regent’s Park

Phillips Very short history of Contemporary Sculpture Berkeley Square

Katsuma's Tardis Pumpkin

Katsuma’s Tardis Pumpkin

 

Regular readers will remember that I am not very fond of the Frieze art fair because it charges so much, because it lands in Regent’s Park like a giant Borg spaceship, but mainly because it reinforces the market driven orthodoxies of contemporary art.  Perhaps you will think this unfair of me. It (and I am including the technically separate Frieze Masters in all this) is now a globally pre-eminent forum for art. I just don’t like festivals…I don’t like being force fed.

Art, when it works in my life is like adding salt to my food – it makes it taste of something, makes me enjoy it more. Frieze Art Fair is basically just a mouthful of salt. Tastes horrible and makes me feel sick.

Michael Craig-Martin reminding us what drawing is

Michael Craig-Martin reminding us what drawing is

Notwithstanding this found myself in the park with some sculptures, some of which were quite successful I thought. Michael Craig-Martin was in my bad books for a long time for calling drawing ‘a trick with a pencil’. You have only to look at his work to realise though that he is engaged with drawing in its pure form. His coffee cup was the standout work at the RA summer show (Yes I did go, really!) and these blue scissors were also very eye catching. The linear nature of the object – see through but solid was very clever. And offered a neat contrast with the coffee cup, which was just black tape on a solid wall.

Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkins also caught my eye – reminding me a little of some sci-fi design,  and yet feeling curiously traditional. The one pictured has a certain squat bodily quality, but the hard geometric patterns in the bronze conflict with that. It seemed to have cleared the space around it: it was a little unsettling, ambiguous.

Abstract vs Figurative at Phillips Berkeley Square

Abstract vs Figurative at Phillips Berkeley Square

Meanwhile back in Berkeley Square, the new hq of Phillips auctions is hosting ‘a Very short history of Contemporary Sculpture’ curated by Francesco Bonami. Firstly this new space – if it’s going to have shows all the time, I don’t know – is a very  smart one indeed. The quality of the works on show was also high. I am always sceptical about curation, and the mediation that it implies. But when it is explicit (as here) rather than surreptitious (as at Frieze) that what you are looking at is the result of personal choice, I can live with it. What was striking to me in this choice was the absolute dichotomy between the high serious abstract sculptors and the joky irony of the figurative ones.

whiteread

Another Leaner! Rachel Whiteread’s door

In the abstract er…corner Carl Andre, Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt were all present and correct. In the figurative corner Louise Bourgeois, Keinholz and Thomas Shütte offered us a figurative vision where appearances were deceptive and playful in stark contrast to the concrete and literal work of the minimal artists. Hmm. Bruce Nauman’s Henry Moore Bound to Fail was tucked away in a corner and I struggled to explain to myself why this had been such a key work for us as students (if you’re reading this RG, perhaps you can remind me) Perhaps because he was trying to cross that divide somehow. Rather against my low expectations of her work, Rachel Whiteread’s door does seem to bridge this gap. At once concrete (literally, but also in the sense of absolute form) and joky (casts are always a bit joky) this work stood very neatly at the crossroads of all the strands of sculpture shown here. I still find this idea of casts upon which she has built a whole career almost totally derivative of Bruce Nauman’s cast of the space underneath his hotel chair. But he only made one of those I think. That will never fill up auction catalogues. Or art fairs.