Sunday, April 26, 2009
Edvard Munch Show & Bannanas
This weeks post comes in two parts. In part one I will discuss my thoughts on the Edvard Munch Show at the Art Institute of Chicago. In part two I will discuss the recent uproar at the Scottish National Gallery involving bananas and urine.
First let me say that Edvard Munch is one of my favorite artists. I waited for my opportunity to view this show with much anticipation. Unfortunately I did not find out about this exhibition until three weeks before it closed. I therefore had to hastily make arrangements to get to Chicago and return without interfering with my work schedule. That aside, the Art Institute did a tremendous job.
The show encapsulated the life of, and influences surrounding Edvard Munch. Entitled Becoming Edvard Munch, this exhibition not only showcased Edvard Munch, but it also had works by other artists that Munch collaborated with. It was very interesting to see the work that had a direct influence on Munch. By presenting Munch side by side with his contemporaries it became clear how Munch was very much in control of his work, and the direction it was taking. It was almost like stepping through time and observing the artist as he worked.
One major flaw I felt, was in the final room of the exhibition. In this last room the viewers were presented with a few family photographs throughout Munch's life. Next to this was a wall-sized map detailing the locations Munch lived and worked. I think this should have been placed in the opening space of the show. As viewers entered the exhibition we were greeted by a large self portrait of the artist. If this portrait were linked directly with the photographs and the map, viewers could get a clear idea of where and when Munch was working.
Overall, I found this exhibition quite good. I had the opportunity to view several works I had previously seen only in books or in class. I also got the chance to observe works that I had no idea Munch painted. The Mermaid was one work in particular that I had no knowledge of, but really enjoyed.
I would next like to briefly address the issues taking place at the Scottish National Gallery In Edinburgh. You can read about the entire issue here.
To sum it up: an artist placed a standard bunch of bananas in the gallery, claimed to have injected them with urine, and presented them as his work. To some, the whole issue here is whether or not this could be considered art. I think that yes, it could be art, based on the premise that one individual is communicating an idea. However, more than one person is involved in the on-going display of this work, and in my opinion that alters what this object actually is.
The article in the Scotsman clearly explains how the curators have to go to the store and replace the bananas every 2-3 days due to the fact that bananas rot. If the original bananas are not present, and the artist had nothing to do with placing the new bananas in their current location, who is responsible for this project? It seems to me that this is more a sociology/psychology experiment based on trust, rather than an actual work of art. Especially when one considers that the newly placed bananas may or may not actually contain urine. This fact only adds to the suspicions about who to trust. The gallery? The Artist? Whose word is the viewer to accept as genuine?
If this idea of confusion and collaboration with the gallery owners is part of the artists intention, then this is a very successful and unique work of art. However, I doubt that is the case. Let me know what your thought are, and I will post a new discussion next week.