Monday, October 15, 2007

Safe.


Photo by Robert Caplin

Still afraid of a future that happened 16 years ago? Go to the Met. They'll soften the blow for you with some old stuff. I haven't seen an insecurity about a work of art externalized like this since John Cheim went after Simon Doonan. I mean, I loooooooove the Met, but do they really need to start competing with Crystal Fucking Bridges before it even opens?

I get it. Contextualize the artwork for "emphasis" and enlighten the viewer. Whatevs. Wouldn't it have been nice if they had just placed it in a room and let it stand on the merits of the viewers' responses? Seriously. Think of the power in that. Dial direct, dude.

From Roberta Smith's article in the Times . . .
"Gary Tinterow, the Met’s curator of 19th-century, Modern and contemporary art, who brought the shark here, emphasizes its art status by hanging three shark-themed paintings from the museum’s collection in the gallery. Two are American: a late-18th-century anonymous copy of John Singleton Copley’s famous rescue drama “Watson and the Shark,” and Winslow Homer’s “Gulf Stream” (1899), which shows a black sailor adrift on a hurricane-battered fishing boat encircled by sharks."

"The third and most appropriate is “Head I” (1947-8), by the British painter Francis Bacon, a recent bequest to the Met. Bacon’s interest in twisted flesh and howling mouths is often cited as an influence on Mr. Hirst, and “Head I” fills the bill. Its central gray mound is featureless except for an upturned, gaping, sharp-toothed mouth that is more than a little sharklike and also echoes Picasso’s monstrous “Olga” paintings of the late 1920s."


Now playing: Obituary's Frozen in Time

9 comments:

biv said...

For once I'd like to not be treated like an idiot by someone who's more stupid than me.
Next time I go I'll ask them where all the red paintings are.

Heart As Arena said...

Y'know, Bivs. I took a really pissy line out of this post last night. You've inspired me to reinstate it.

Allan Smithee said...

I like that idea...

think Rauschenberg's series of "Red Paintings" from the early 60's surrounding Hirst's shark piece would be a very good installation.

Think the two artist have a lot in common.

Heart As Arena said...

I see red things.

Brooklyn Artist said...

Last time I walked through the "Contemporary" wing at the met I overheard people in front of a Jackson Pollock say, "Hey, that's the guy from the movie!" As soon as Damien gets his movie, I'm sure this is the kind of thing you can hear in the shark room.

Mark said...

I liked it better at the auction house, all slimmy and decomposing. It's too tame now.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the fact that the Hirst Shark is in a space named The Museum of Modern Art "emphasize its art status" ? Perhaps if it was unloaded at the (late) Fulton Street Fish Market I might have a moments hesitation and believe it was an ad for a new culinary delight larger than my head. Still, ensconced in MOMA, surrounded by other shark daubings any higher reflections on death, disintegration, immortality, culture, money, etc., can be safely canned. Thank you MOMA for holding my hand through the cloudy waters of shark representation.

Heart As Arena said...

Anon. It's at the Met, BUT all is forgiven because of this classic you unleashed . . . "and believe it was an ad for a new culinary delight larger than my head." Well done!

biv said...

I actually spent time with the "slimmy" comment. I worked with it. I'm not making fun of the typo. I just read too much Terry Eagleton in college.