Saturday, December 29, 2007

Screen stars

A visit to the exhibition Birth of the Cool at the Orange County Museum of Art brought back memories of Lower Hutt. Say what? In the middle of the show was a section devoted to 1959 with paintings by local artists including the wonderful John McLaughlin, a favourite of Gordon Walters. As you can see, these works were hanging on free standing screens covered with hessian, or burlap as it is known in the US. All that was missing to make the Dowse Art Gallery illusion complete was grey concrete block walls. Only difference was we were still exhibiting on hessian screens in the late, late 1970s, not the 1950s. Tony Fomison’s first survey show was one example. One day someone might do a great essay on the importance of the concrete block and hessian to the display of art in New Zealand from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Image: California Cool at the Orange County Museum, with a McLaughlin painting on the furthest screen.