Thursday, June 03, 2010

Hang ‘em high

When he was working in public art museums, Starkwhite director John McCormack was a champion of the “open hang”. The idea is to give public access to as much of the permanent collection as possible by hanging large numbers of work at the same time. Here’s the concept with knobs on at the National Gallery of Denmark.
COMMENT: I think you do John a disservice. He never hung art like that. It's so not him. And it's not what the 'open hang' was, anyway. Open Hang (no one ever got the idea) was about treating what had been the permanent-collection spaces at the DPAG as room-modules that could be changed individually and at different speeds, which meant no restrictive overarching thematic or chronology. Some modules were collection- based, some had loans; some were one artist, some group; some media based, some thematic; some were artists' projects. It was about creating some space for curatorial play. Open meant 'curatorially open', not visible storage. A better point of comparison for your Denmark example would be Auckland Art Gallery's 1982 Artichoke exhibition, where they hung work salon-style floor to ceiling because they had to clear out the storerooms. Ever popular those shows, unmediated as they are by nasty curators. Robert Leonard