Monday, November 15, 2010

Shelf life

At the Laureate Awards last week John Parker talked about displaying his ceramics at what he called “giving height”. That's around the height at which you quite naturally pass an object to someone. 

Over the years the way ceramics, paintings and sculptures have been displayed has changed significantly. Some of these shifts were driven by institutional convenience, some for fashion’s sake and some to improve the audience's experience. Paintings that were once hung in groups cheek to cheek came down lower on the wall in the seventies although many have now headed back up again. Sculpture came off plinths and onto the floor and ceramics that in the seventies were shown low to the ground on a hessian-covered door balanced on concrete blocks, are now most often displayed on white plinths. And then every now and then, artists are allowed to take over and the effect can be startling. See stellar examples from Franz West and Jorge Pardo here on OTN. 

And startling was exactly what we found when we stumbled into Karl Fritsch putting up shelves for his exhibition at Hamish McKay Gallery. Using bits of found timber and plasticine, Karl transformed display into art, balancing his brutally beautiful jewellery on hand-rolled white plasticine balls. Easily one of the best sculpture exhibitions of the year. Perfect.