I was reminded today of that strange phenomenon that occurs every four years when the Olympic Games are on. The phenomenon where everyone seems to develop an expert-like understanding of and opinion about even the most obscure sports.
The same phenomenon seems to occur with “mega-exhibitions”, like Picasso currently at the Art Gallery of NSW. These are the exhibitions that attract thousands and thousands of people and where you, generally, need to book a timeslot ahead. I think it’s terrific these exhibitions are so popular but geez, they bring out the wankers, don’t they?
As I walked around the exhibition today I found myself increasingly annoyed by the comments and behaviour of those standing nearby. The competitive friends trying to outdo each other with their knowledge of Picasso. The husband dragged along by his wife whose only coping mechanism was regular smart arse comments (“She’s got two faces, she must be a lawyer”). The people who routinely walk up and stand right in front of a bunch of people to “observe” the brush strokes.
My approach to these kind of exhibitions has always been: do some research, read the background notes, and then just enjoy the experience. The notes for this particular exhibition are very good. They give you a good brief overview of a particular stage in Picasso’s life, lead you towards one or two themes, and to one or two major works. In doing this today I was able to know what to look for, and could then walk freely around the room, and thus be able to genuinely enjoy the works, not feel like I was on a treadmill, and, more importantly, keep clear of the wankers.
I learned so much today about Picasso’s work, including: the influence of Georges Braque on his work; the importance of both the First and Second World War on his work; his post World War I return to classicism (which I didn’t much like); and most importantly, how to view Picasso’s work and to make sense of it. Once you understand that each subject is viewed in each work from multiple angles, it all makes sense. And once you have that insight, the works really begin to capture your imagination, and for some works you just can’t move away.
Although it’s a really comprehensive exhibition, covering many styles, a few of the works today really caught my eye, including Massacre in Korea (devastating), Man In A Straw Hat And An Ice Cream (good fun); and possibly my favourite, The Acrobat which I thought was so simple and beautiful. I was also really interested in some of the sheet metal castings, including the guitar and the violin.
So despite being surrounded by a bunch of wankers, I had a really nice couple of hours today wandering around the AGNSW.
In other news, I went off to the surgery again to have my wound dressed, and apparently “things are coming along nicely”. I have also developed a bit of a cold, so I’m taking some cold and flu tablets on top of the pain relievers and the antibiotics (I’m a mess, clearly). And I caught up with Sue who was up from Melbourne for the day. So all in a all, it was a lovely day which also managed to include a fair bit of sleeping. Back to work tomorrow.
One response to “Picasso Exhibition”
Good, pithy observations on art shows James. Just watch out for the wankers!