THE ART OF DADO
The National Gallery on the Mound‘s new faccliit has sharply polariscd opinion. not only within thc art world. but also in The List offices. Alice Bain and Stuart Bathgatc rcport.
'l‘lic rcd works wcll as a background: it docsn't look as much likc an Indian rcstaurant as [d hccn lcd to hclicyc. 'l'hc pink room upstairs is a hit oycr thc top. but in gcncral lhc rooms
lhc rc ol lc r a much-impr‘oycd
cm ironmcnt in which to \‘icw thc picturcs. lt‘s lar prclcrahlc to thc prcyious dcsign. which would hayc liccn iust as suitcd to a mortuary as to an art gallcry I'm glad that it has cscapcd lrom thc idca ol’ an art gallcry as a placc ol'hushcd
rcx c rcncc. and has hccomc a placc ol' cnioy mcnt: I think it w ill now sccm lar morc w clcoming to pcoplc not uscd to going to art gallcrics. \ththcr lhc changcs will cnhancc thc gallcr} 's rcputation clcarly dcpcnds on w hat individuals think: thcy will at lcast incrcasc thc publicity lor lhc gallcry. which is all to thc good. (Stuart Bathgalc)
'l‘hc night thc National ( iallcry wcnt to lhc hall. a rcgimcnt olhlack how tics. coillurcs and invading tartan trcws strctchcd out into thc
ncw ly-colihlcd squarc. ()ncc in thc \ cstilutlc. coats wcrc takcn and hands shakcn w cdding-slylc. 'l‘imothy ( ‘lil'i'ord. thc smooth grccn \L‘lVL‘l-litckclcd tlll'L‘L‘ltirtillllC National ( iallcrics and hisattractiyc tartan-silkcd w ilc did thc honours with lhc chairman ol’lhc gallcrics. linancicr .-\ngus ( irossart.
'l'his w as thc l-'csti\ al party to cclclu'aic lllc National ( i;tllcl'_\".s rcdccoration. llands shakcn and namcs announcctl. lllc gucsts dispct'scd into Ll _‘ million worth ol rcd lclt walls. silkcn backdrops. dcsigncr carpcts. slullcd couchcs and goldcn clocks. l’lonk and oystcrs kcpt lhc (illll milling round this still scwing haskct ol a placc whcrc thc paintings. most ol thcm mastcrpicccs. ha\ c now hcht thorougth stitchcd up into thc conccpt as a \\ holc. .-\ hracc ol' pipcrs and howls Ulllil\llc\ addcd to thc sub-show hi/ glamour which paradcd through that night.
\Vhilc lhc gathcring ol'grcat and good was an articlc in itscli'. it was thc gallcry w c w crc all hcrc to scc.
Downstairs. douhlc hanging is dc rigcur. a suburban grccn carpct irom thc Avocado rangc coycrs thc old polishcd wood and thc walls hayc hccomc a sca oi unrclcnting rcd. In this hutch smoking room atmosphcrc. Salomc's drcss sccms tamc. l'pstairs. prctty houdoir hucs in thc ‘drawing rooms' show oil as \Vattcau. (‘ourhct and Rachurn's Rcy. Rohcrt \Valkcr light to makc an imprcssion.
This is thc ‘austcrc splcndour' 'l‘imothy (’lii‘l'ord talks oi in his guidc to thc prcscnt rcdccoration and display'.’ Somc of thc dcsign. likc thc ncw pillar-li‘cc widc opcnings hctwccn rooms. has hccn madc accordingtothcoriginal l‘)th ccntury yicw oithc building‘s architcct William l’layl‘air. (’olours and furnishings too lollow sclcctcd lincs olthc past. But thc cnd rcsult is hrand ncw 1930s — a thcatrical .sctting with all rcstraint sparcd. it’s a rchash ol' history out oi a populist stahlc.
l’ost Manchcstcr ( iallcry. whcrc hc madc thc .samc kind ol' noisc. (‘lii‘l'ord has crcatcd a controvcrsial and classic ychiclc l'or hyping his gallcry. ()nc oi lhc hcsl smallcr collcctions ol' art in thc world. thc National (iallcry’s collcction is not in tilicstion. But as l‘or its ncw clothcs -— is it a trcat or a traycsty'.’ l)oc.s it maltcr. or will it all ladc away with timc and ( ‘lil'l'ord's lantasics'.’ l lcrc wc add a lcw morc l’irst imprcssions to thc many which hayc alrcady appcarcd in print. (Alicc Bain)
Stairwell lo upstairs galleries decorated with Albacini busts.
Andrew Brown. Director. 369 Gallery
“ I thought I was going to hate the red. bull
iound I really liked it. Upstairs is like atart's boudoir-all it needs isa Dutch-Indonesian bed plonked in the corner.
Downstairs is a success- especially the use oi space
— but the adherence to an
overall design does detract
irom the primacy oithe
pictures. and I do detestthe
interior-decorating carpets upstairs.
Deborah Haase. Curator. Smith Gallery. Stirling ‘ The red is very
overpowering in those
large expanses — you require another bout oi
energy belore you can start
looking at the paintings. I like upstairs very much.
It‘s iriendly and stimulating
to the bright colours oithe walls and it's such a reliei
iromthewine-red downstairs. And I love where the busts are. it‘s good to see humour in a
public gallery. but itdoesn't
detract irom the seriousness oithe pieces themselves. I don'tthink you necessarily have to agree with what they‘ve
done. lwouldn‘t have done it that way il l was director.
but he has made quite a clearstrong statement. Galleries should cause
debate and discussion — not
staylossilised at any
Ian D'Riordan. Curator. City Arts Centre. Edinburgh ‘ The red'sa little overpowering in that quantity— it‘s much more diiiicult nowto sit in the downstairs galleries and ieel restiul. It‘s been hotted uptoo much. I quite like the galleries upstairs. butthere is perhapstoo much detailing. i like the sequence oicolours though. ldon't entirely agree with looking back tothe 19th century. The way we look at pictures now is diiierentirom the waythey looked at pictures then. Also. it might marginalise important paintings when hanging by size. like the small Rembrandt atthe back. But certainly something needed to be done. And he (Clifford) has raised the argumentasto whethergalleries should be restored to theirlormercondition. My lavourite is the
It's a gem.
Neil Baxter. Royal Institute olArchitects ‘ The ‘heavy' red is ideal lorthat classical collection. I like that method oi double hangingthe pictures. But it‘s an odd mix. Dnthe one hand it has the room settings ol 3 rich house and onthe otherit is showing oil
the collections ola classical gallery. It‘s an attempt to compromise betweentwo aims which seem irreconcilable. I overheard someone saying that the upstairs waslike amillionaire's drawing room. lthink that is appropriate. There'stoo much decoration andldon‘t like all the rococo lurniture. Myiavourite Pisarro painting is robbed oi its impactl like the iact that the carpet overcomesthe problem oithe squeaky iloor and squeaky shoes. It's no longera
gallery oihushed tones.
Moira Innes. Sculptor ‘ The red is pretty horrendous. It overtakesthe paintings. It‘s an inllexible colour. I don‘tsee any reasonto go back to the 19th century—there's no proolthat the Victorians got it right. They could have used a contemporary idea which does not necessarily mean white walls. ldon't likethe overcrowding. It‘s a bit insulting to show an
Room 10 which houses some oi the gallery's iinest 18th century paintings including the Finding oi Moses by Tiepolo
artist so high up you can't look athis paintings properly. The decoration enhances the galleryto the extent that people recognise that a lot oi money has been spent. I‘d rather have seenthem buying some good paintings. People may enjoy saunteringthroughlhe space butthey're not goingto concentrate on the paintings. There's no sense oiany iniormation being around. But I'm notsure yet whether it will be a worthwhile experience —l‘d like to see how
people react in the space iirst.
Deyan Sudjic. Editor. Blueprint Magazine it seemed that an American
decoratorhad been playing with the idea cl 3 gallery. The whole thing was diiiicultto deal with. It's a 1988 interpretation oithe original. which obviously can't be the real thing. The new design is slightlytoo ioreground. The presence oi a curatoris too much in evidence. and the museum is perhaps too much oia iuniair. it certainly gets the gallery put onthe map. and will attract more people to it. which I suspect is the aim oithe whole exercise. But there is too much going on. and that detracts irom the works oiart. lt‘sa domestic iantasy—they should have remembered that it's an art gallery. nota country house.
b lhc l.ist lo .-\ug-—- l Scpt 1988