Monday, May 17, 2010

How to look at a painting

Going to museums in mid-week is a vastly different experience from the weekend one most people have. You do have to get used to making way for large groups of kids herded through the galleries to be taught how to look at art (paintings mostly). The small ones are fine as they mostly sit on the floor. The taller ones can get in the way, but they also make the best comments, “Like who’s Van Dyke, like?” 

A group of little kids we saw at the Wallace collection were persuaded by the education person to suck in their stomachs for one minute to get an idea of what it was like to wear bone corsets. When they were finally allowed to breathe out a few groaned theatrically and one said, “Having your clothes full of bones hurts.” And you knew what he meant.

The bright new brocade wall-covering behind some of the paintings the kids were looking at came courtesy of ├╝ber-artist Damien Hirst. He paid for the recovering as a quid pro quo for showing his work in the Wallace. The decision caused an uproar at the time but the result is a very sharp looking set of galleries that could not have been renovated to this standard any other way. Besides, there was nothing to stop opponents stumping up with the cash before Hirst made his offer. Getting an exhibition of Hirst paintings for a couple of months seems like a small price to pay for a stunning result. Thanks Damien.
Image: dressing up as art