Tuesday, May 20, 2008

BigCityLib: Art Lovin' Guy

My wife and I visited the National Gallery of Canada on Saturday, and I have to admit that I came away from the place a little bit disappointed. There was too much stuff I wasn't interested in, too little stuff that I liked. A bit boring, in other words

For example, I couldn't find a single piece by Emily Carr, and I've never been impressed by the other members of "The Gang of Seven". It's like they spent their entire artistic careers painting the same tree.

And Barnett Newman's painting "Voice of Fire" really does look like it was done with a roller. I spent months arguing with philistines about this work when the controversy first raged, and now I have to admit that the philistines were right. "Oooh! The Intensity of the colours!" sophisticated people said but, frankly, the colours are similar enough to the scheme used by the New York Giants to seem suspicious.
Somewhere, Barnett Newman is passed out face down with an empty bottle of absinthe and a fistful of Canadian Taxpayers' dollars in his hand.

And I've always loved John Waterhouse.
He painted great nekkid nymphs and his models looked exactly like my old secretary, Dorothy. Exceedingly hot in a typically English way: small breasts, horsey hips. I mentioned the resemblance to Dorothy once and wound up doing eight weeks of sensitivity training.

In any case, there wasn't a single Waterhouse or, as far as I could make out, a single Pre-Raphaelite of any variety (they all painted hot nymphs).

There were no Kandinsky's, no Rousseau's, and the only Klee (see below) was a rather subdued number painted on Burlap.
And what's with the ghastly 1,000 year old picture frames? Braque, Picasso, Leger...these painters were interested in deconstructing the very act of perception, yet their paintings are rimmed around with fat little cherubs blowing trumpets. I DON'T think they would have approved.

Not that there weren't a few cool items. The Pollack heading the post, for example: its a small one, done on glass. And I have always liked Mondrian (below, who always insisted that his work be displayed sans frame) even though I suppose one could ask what's the real difference between him and someone like Newman, the answer being that Mondrian doesn't suck.
They also had one of Joseph Cornell's boxes, although I accidentally deleted my picture of it, and it was a crap picture anyway. (Note: Cornell bulks large in William Gibson's Count Zero)


Ti-Guy said...

Aren't all the the Emily Carr's at the VAG? You can get sick of those pretty quickly too.

I'd accuse you of Philistinism, but I'm not one to talk; I lasted 45 minutes in the Louvre, before running screaming from the place. I thought I'd slash my wrists if I felt compelled to appreciate one more Dutch master and I didn't get to see the one thing I had actually come to see: La Giaconda. I couldn't get within 50 feet of it due to an impenetrable wall of Japanese tourists, each snapping 300 photos of it.

I don't like most "great art." It always seems stale and over-exposed to me.

bigcitylib said...

Had a similar experience at the Louvre. Doesn't help that the picture is actually quite tiny.

Ti-Guy said...

Yeah. About the size of a postage stamp, from what I recall.

Saskboy said...

I wonder if you can lick the back of Mona Lisa, and have it stick to an envelope then...