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."
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