Category Archives: museums

Art Rabbit, A website worth checking out!

Margareta Kern (Liza - Donja Vrba, Croatia. 2006). Courtesy of www.artrabbit.comMargareta Kern (Liza – Donja Vrba, Croatia. 2006). Courtesy of www.artrabbit.com

Artrabbit.com is a really interesting website allowing online readers a clear insight into the London art market, whats going on and listings. You can post your openings there too!

There’s some great online interviews including recent one with Margareta Kern. There is also a number of Art Walks posted which look really interesting and well thought out. Basically I’m pretty impressed with this site! Great for visitors and Londoners alike!

Check out http://www.artrabbit.com/ for recent openings, discussion boards, news feeds and up and coming popular events.

Izzie Egan. C-C-C-Vancouver.com

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Gilbert and George Grace the Tate

Gilbert and George’s “Flying Shit”

Gilbert and George’s “Flying Shit”

 

 

Well, I suppose we need the bad exhibitions to enhance our opinions of what we think to be good exhibitions. However, I really could have missed Gilbert & George’s Major Exhibition at the Tate Modern today. The exhibition, which runs from February 15th to May 7th 2007, is the largest retrospective of any artist to be held at the Tate Modern. For 10 pounds (£8 concession), you can walk alongside walls covered with loud and overly-imposing eyesores. Besides the aesthetic nightmare, I found myself saying the four (maybe four-and-a-half) words commonly muttered at contemporary art shows: “I don’t get it”. So, in an attempt to understand the content of this visual repugnance I capitulated and read the guide. This was definitely a last resort as art shouldn’t need to be translated through guides.  

If you’re not familiar with the artists, Gilbert was born in Italy in 1943, and George in Devon in 1942. They met during a sculpture class in London and soon began to sculpt together. The couple looks average in every way and they are always seen wearing suits and ties as if matching attire is their crazy gimmick. According to ‘the guide,’ “They adopted the identity of ‘living sculptures’ in both their art and their daily lives, becoming not only creators, but also the art itself.” Apparently, this is the rationale why almost every image is a self-portrait. Their dry, corporate appearance is contradicted by their 12-year-old-boy personalities that find ‘pee-pee’ and ‘poo-poo’ hilarious, and even more worrying, aesthetically and artistically ground-breaking.

 

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Each image seemed to follow the same recipe. They all resembled stained-glass church windows (even though the images themselves were produced on photo paper) and had a crucifix of some other religious reference. This was then juxtaposed by abjection, often in the form of a naked boy, random excrement, blood, or other distasteful matter. Each image also was not complete without a portrait of the two ‘artists’ and a title which was written right across the image itself. For example, one of the photos was called “Shitters” depicting shit. Another was named “Our Spunk (1997)” depicting (need I explain). Finally, some images amalgamated their subject matter including the piece “Spunk, Blood, Piss, Shit (1996)”.

 

I took the time to further research their art in hopes to understand it. After all they are famous for their slogan “Art for All” which apparently reflects their artistic mandate. The following are quotes which they have used to describe their work:

 

Gilbert and George’s “In the Piss”

Gilbert and George’s “In the Piss”

“Now we use more colours, but in each picture they mean something different…They can be symbolic or they can be atmospheric or emotional…It’s more a part of our own language, really – part of our vocabulary”

 

“We wanted to dream a kind of paradise [with] those brightly lit human beings that we compare to flowers”

 

“It’s him, from head to foot. It’s very haunting. Because you think it’s a mouth, with an areshole in the middle, but in fact it’s a belly button.”

 

“Fundamentally, there’s something religious about the fact that we’re made of shit. We consist of the stuff. It’s our nourishment, it belongs to us, we’re part of it, and we show this in a positive light.”

 

Needless to say, I remain bewildered. Gilbert and George have not succeeded in creating ‘art for all’ as it definitely wasn’t for me. I found their images and ideas to be asinine, generic and unoriginally anarchical. Personally, I think ‘abject art’ or art that includes repugnant or vile subject matter to be rather interesting if done in an intelligent manner. For instance, the work of Andrea Serranno comes to mind in his works such as “Blood and Semen III” (which was used for a Metallica album cover) and “Piss Christ.”

 

                  Andres Serranno’s “Blood and Semen III”                               

Andres Serranno’s “Blood and Semen III”          

As depicted on Metallica’s ‘Load’ Album                

 

 

Andres Serranno’s ‘Piss Christ’

  Andres Serranno’s “Piss Christ”

I did not find Gilbert and George’s retrospective at all intriguing and find their talents to be child-like and completely over-rated. I hope my next entry will manage to encourage you to go to a show! I highly recommend the rest of the Tate Modern as their permanent collection is impressive and it remains my favorite gallery in London.

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Hello, and Welcome to the London Art Scene

Thanks Izzie for such a kind welcome and I’m thrilled to be offering a voice to those interested in learning about what the London art scene has to offer. Firstly, I should introduce myself so readers know whether any of this information is, in fact, worth listening to!

 

My name is Richard Sehmer and I am a Canadian currently living in the bustling city of London. I grew up in Vancouver, and then went to do an undergraduate degree in studio art and art history at York University in Toronto. Upon completion, I moved to London where I earned a master’s degree in art business from Sotheby’s and met classmates, friends, and now, fellow-bloggers: Izzie (CCC Vancouver), Joe (CCC Toronto), and Victoria (CCC New York). Currently, I am working towards a law degree at City University in Central London with the ambition of becoming an art lawyer. This blog will hopefully help you to explore the substance of this thriving art scene, while it helps me stay in touch with the art world as I continue my legal studies.

When being asked to write about the London art scene, one can’t help but feel as though they would if one were asked to clean the outside of a building with a toothbrush. Not only is the scene impressively overwhelming, but it is constantly changing as new styles, galleries, artists, collectors, and economic trends (to name a few factors) endlessly mold the art world into what it is today. Nevertheless, this is what makes the London art scene such a vibrant and exciting discourse as one is never at a loss for words.

To begin, one must ask what we are talking about when we say ‘art scene.’ Perhaps this sounds like an asinine question, but, from my experience, it is best to find structure in such a massive subject, by first defining what it is in fact we are talking about. The London ‘art scene’ can be described through various vantages. For instance, a tourist would experience the London ‘art scene’ by potentially prioritizing major museums and galleries: The Tates (Britain, Modern, St Ives), The British Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum (or “the V&A” as locals say), the Design Museum and the list continues. Perhaps the London ‘art scene’ even includes places like Madame Tussauds, The Sherlock Holmes Museum, and the Natural History Museum. To a local, the ‘art scene’ may consist of the less ‘touristy’ of destinations, going to galleries which aim more at commercial sales rather then going to government-funded institutions. Most of the time people go to a gallery with no intention of purchasing work. London hosts a myriad of galleries including places like White Cube, Flowers, The Redfern and hundreds of other institutions located from the affluent areas such as Bond Street and St James, to places like Hampstead, East London (Hoxton, Aldgate, etc), Maida Vale, Islington, and Chelsea. Maybe one would be so daring enough as to venture into the guarded doors of Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Bonham’s to check out their previews. The art market professional, may describe the ‘art scene’ as, besides the aforementioned, a world including issues such as conservation/restoration, art crime (ie recovering Nazi loot), art publications and critics, consultancy services, insurance, and even efforts invoked in maintaining relationships with actual artists. Without stating the obvious, people often forget that current practicing artists are an essential ingredient in the development of a successful ‘scene.’

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As is clear, everyone has a different perspective on the definition of the ‘London art scene,’ and I will do my best to entertain most facets in my subsequent blogs. As a viewer of art, however, it is imperative to remember that the art world, especially in London, can exude snobbery and pretentiousness. When surrounded by such an exciting art scene, one can not afford to be too scared or belittled to spend as much time as you want walking into the most top-notch of institutions. The art-world requires a tough-skin and an ability to not be intimidated by insecurities such as a lack of art knowledge or a feeling of unworthiness. In large part, this is what often differentiates between the mindset of ‘tourist’, ‘local’, and ‘art market professional.’

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