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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Tate Modern vs National Gallery

The National Gallery versus Tate Modern
One good test of an art gallery is to be found on a random day-time visit, when schools are able to bring their children to look around.

A recent visit to both the above-named galleries revealed a stark difference: there were no children at the Tate Modern.

Happy groups of children were crowded around great and wonderful paintings in the National Gallery enjoying wonderful works of art explained by animated teachers.
All over the sound of happy children.

But I did not see a single school party at the Tate Modern, and frankly I am not surprised: there was nothing worth seeing. As you go from high-falutin floor to high-falutin floor, one vacuous pretentious folly after another assaults the eye. A couple of trees here, a pile of lava there.

I even found a mirror. Yes folks, a mirror on the wall, entitled "Untitled Canvas 1965" with these words of description:

"Since the Renaissance, painting has often been likened to a window upon the world, with central perspective giving the viewer a sense of surveying what is contained within the picture frame. In a bold gesture, Art & Language turn this century-old convention upside-down by replacing the painting’s surface with a mirror. Rather than look at an image of the artist’s making, viewers are now confronted by themselves, thereby questioning a long-held notion of painting transcending reality."

Another floor described itself like this:

You must be told there is something higher, deeper and more profound in the work, because for sure there is nothing for the eye to see.

Visitors aren't fooled
But if you read the faces of  the ordinary visitors, you find they are not fooled. Sometimes you read incredulity, sometimes laughter, sometimes anger, sometimes sadness.You get the impression they'd like someone to stand on a platform in the museum and scream, "the emperor has no clothes."

There is a very good reason schools don't bring their kids here - the place would be filled with laughter, not joyful laughter but mocking derisory laughter. You can't pull the wool over the eyes of children. They'd be saying "those two trees aren't art, that pile of lava isn't art. I don't need to come to a gallery to look in the mirror."

The Tate Modern is a Tower of Babel, a monument to godless folly and a tragic reminder of just how far  our culture has moved from God, and hence moved from reason or even common sense. Our culture, having lost any sense of truth no longer knows how to distinguish between art and non-art, between what is good and what is pretentious, between what is art and what is banal, what will last and is of worth and what is ephemeral and worthless.

It is not at all surprising that the National Gallery works of art were made in a more god-fearing age, and the Tate Modern ones made in a godless age. Belief or unbelief stands behind art.

Fortunately there was a wall where you could write your comments, and so I wrote the only words that rang around my head for the brief moments I had to tolerate the tragic darkness and madness:  

1 comment:

  1. Haha, so true. I actually visited the Tate Modern as a child and I remember laughing at most of the "artwork". I recall upsetting a room full of adults by laughing rather loudly at a piece of 'art' which was literally just a brown sack with a hole in it. Most amusing but also somewhat concerning.