I saw several contrasting exhibits at the Tate Museums: Tate Britain and Tate Modern in London last week. One was the 2012 Turner Prize award winner, and the other was work by Turner himself.
“The prestigious Turner Prize is presented every year to an artist under 50, living, working or born in Britain for an outstanding exhibition in the previous 12 months.
This year’s prize has been awarded to Elizabeth Price.
Nominated for her solo exhibition at BALTIC, Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, in which she presented a trilogy of video installations. Price reanimates existing archives of imagery, texts and music to explore our complex relationship to objects and consumer culture. Her carefully sequenced films guide us through immersive virtual spaces, derived from the cultural debris of the material world. Tweet #EPrice”
Well, I didn’t like it much. Video art as such is just passe. There was another set of works at the Camden Art Center featuring old film clips from the 1970’s and some snap shots inspired by the image technology of those times. With the introduction of each new medium, artists glom onto it to make something. In the initial life cycle, the medium is the message. After that, then what?
Now, I am not saying that the old ways are a substitute. I also saw the Pre-Raphaelite’s exhibit. The Raphael period of painting was an instance of defenestration when the artists cast off the disciplines and values of the period before. The Pre-Raphaelites sought to restore them. The end result was vivid imagery with lots of religious references.
“Combining rebellion, beauty, scientific precision and imaginative grandeur, the Pre-Raphaelites constitute Britain’s first modern art movement. This exhibition brings together over 150 works in different media, including painting, sculpture, photography and the applied arts, revealing the Pre-Raphaelites to be advanced in their approach to every genre. Led by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) rebelled against the art establishment of the mid-nineteenth century, taking inspiration from early Renaissance painting.”
Then again, I saw some of the 300 Turner paintings and some of the 3,000 watercolors that made him a stalwart artist. He had intense interest in the human figure all of his life as an artist and brought forward the importance of life drawing. Yet, many people will know his work in the context of landscape featuring amazing creation of sunlight.
One could spend hours and days in a place like the Tate. In fact, they should consider erecting a Tate hotel where art enthusiasts could check in and practically live at the gallery.