Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Enjoying Grayson Perry's Reith Lecture

Grayson Perry's Art Quality Guide
A few months ago I had an off kilter argument about the artist Grayson Perry. Not about his work, but about the location of some of it. I'd just seen it exhibited in London, but the other person running a gallery shop swore it was somewhere in Sunderland.

I think we were both right and it had been moved. Today I was listening to the Reith Lecture by the very same artist, during which he talked about whether the uniqueness of a piece was one of its defining characteristics. It made me briefly wonder if there was more than one copy of some of his, but I decided there wasn't.

His was a playful speech, (click here) covering points about arbiters of artistic taste, whether we (the public) are supposed to 'like' stuff in galleries, and the value of a good 'museum quality' piece to an artist's market price.

I've stumbled into liking Grayson Perry's approach. He's both serious and irreverent at the same time. He clearly knows his subject and whilst not to everyone's taste (what can be?) he will include messages and social commentary in the work.

I bought one of his earlier sets of drawings (Cycle of Violence) as a gift, but on closer inspection *cough* decided that it might not quite suit the taste of the intended recipient.

Plenty of points in his Reith speech resonated.

One was about the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. I think I've seen it a couple of times. Once before the extra layers of security protection and again more recently. Perry made the point it can't possibly live up to expectations, especially when there is so much theatre with the crush of people viewing it. More an ambient installation than a picture.
Gallery crowd 1
In my experience, there was another da Vinci around the corner, just as striking, more able to elicit the 'wow', yet hardly observed by the mob that headed directly to La Gioconda.

A different point from Perry was about the scale of paintings. Would size of the canvas directly influence the price?

It brought me to thinking of smaller pictures, like the topical one of the Goldfinch, which I saw somewhere in Belgium and is now the subject in the title of a new novel by Donna Tartt.
Madonna Litta - da Vinci and co.
It's surprising how a small picture can also be part of a big idea. In this case the goldfinch as symbolism related to crucifixion. Da Vinci placed the occasional goldfinch in his own work (as above), but Fabritius, whose picture gets stolen in the novel, netted the idea down to its essence. And in a picture smaller than an LP cover.
Carel Fabritius The Goldfinch

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