Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The end of art history

What happens to art when the world goes to hell in a hand-basket? If disaster movies are anything to go by, some of it at least gets saved, usually as décor for the resident hero in the resident hero’s residence. Will Smith is a bit of a legend when it comes to collecting art post apocalypse. His I am Legend character, Robert Neville, fills his apartment with Auction House Modern (in fact all in MoMA’s collections) including works by Basquiat, Haring, Dali, Rothko, Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Things weren’t so classy for the original Legend Charlton Heston playing Dr Neville in The Omega Man, a 1971 version of Richard Matheson’s book I am Legend. With either limited taste, or time, this Doctor only managed to deck out his apartment in faux Delaunays, a suspect Monet and a wall of generics.
By 2027 tastes, and elan, have further developed and Nigel, one of the survivors in Children of Men has nabbed Picasso’s Guernica and Michelangelo’s David (a little the worse for wear) for himself. When the hero Theo meets with brother Nigel, in his office in the new Tate, they chat in front of Guernica. Nigel tells Theo, “We got to keep Las Meninas, and a few other Velázquez but we only got hold of two Goyas.” And then, “That thing in Madrid was a real blow to art.” (Thud).
Then there was Whistler’s Mother featuring in Rowan Atkinson's Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie. But that was a disaster of a completely different order.
(Click on images to enlarge)

Images: From the top, Will Smith does MoMA, Chalrton Heston is the art lovin’ Omega Man, the Men decorate the Tate with international art. Others in the series Art in the movies: A Clockwork Orange, A night at the movies, Wall Street, Dr No.