Continued from yesterday.
Boris, you also work for an elderly Welshman. So my first advice to you is not to pretend to be him in order to gatecrash a gallery reception. It’s just not worth it.
Since then, I have wandered in to the National Gallery and Tate Modern a number of times.
I like the fact that they’re free, and warm.
The National is home to an agreeable collection by John Constable, my favourite painter.
Constable, as well as being the punchline to the greatest joke in the world ever, has hidden depths. For years he was decried as a painter of chocolate box covers, but walk round the National and you can follow his path from early carefree landscapes, through radical social change in the countryside to ‘fuck it, the wife’s dead, I’m stuck here in Wiltshire and it’s raining’.
Some of his paintings are also really big, much bigger than most foreign artists could manage.
Not having much art of their own, the Americans hang ‘Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Grounds’ in the Met in New York. We seem far more relaxed about this than the Greeks who make such a fuss over the Elgin Marbles.
So here’s a second suggestion, Boris – insist they give it back before we’ll invade anyone with them again.
And so we come to the modern stuff.
It’s so simple and trite to say ‘use the money for dialysis machines’ but…
The Tate Modern does make me think. I once stood for ages, looking at the bits of perspex spaced at equal intervals up the wall. (“Bits of Perspex Spaced at Equal Intervals Up the Wall”)
I wondered what they meant, and whether I could see beauty in them. I looked at the different way light reflected off them, and tried to work out whether the spacing was exactly equal.
Then I thought: ‘gosh, I’ve been here for ten minutes, enjoyably thinking, and it’s cost me fuck all! What entertainment I’ve got from this conceptual art!’
However, it occurred to me that the art was in the concept and the installation. Unlike a painting, a unique imprint of one person’s (or one studio’s) individual brush, these modern bods tend to describe exactly what they want, then get it made.
“Stick some bits of perspex up the wall at equal intervals would you, there’s a good chap?”
“Have you got a lobster? I need to balance it on this old phone.”
“While you’re at the photocopier, run me off a few of these Marilyns?”
The point is, worthy as they are, a copy would be just as good as the original. So, Boris, I suggest we stop spending loads on buying them, and just put copies in all the art museums.
The originals can then be bought by people in wanky glasses who used to own ad agencies, and everyone will be happy.
I wish you well, Boris, and hope I’ve helped you get to grips with your new brief.
Any problems, just drop me an email.