Thomas Wilson, of the Open Eye Gallery, explains how Manet's Oéjeuner sur l’herbe changed the popular conception of art.
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w r lf Manet’s Oéjeuner sur l’herbe, rejected at the official Beaux Arts Salon in 1863, were to be exhibited at the Royal Academy today, it would be highly unlikely to attract a fraction of the response that it did when exhibited at the Salon des Refuses. Even though this work was based on Giorgione’s pastoral concert, painted in 1510, and a detail from an engraving by Raimondi of the Judgement of Paris, after a lost cartoon by Raphael, it was greeted with popular derision, and ended up creating a major scandal.
The classical godesses and nymphs of Raphael and Giorgione had become models, naked and disrobed, relaxing with two fully clothed, dissolute artists, the luxurious contents of a picnic basket flowing into the foreground. Manet had simply translated the classical pastoral into contemporary terms, butthe ensuing scandal sent shock waves throughout the art establishment, and the exhibition was forced to close. Oéjeuner sur l’herbe was the first painting to fuel a revolution exposing the secular values held within the comfortable world of Academia, which in turn influenced the viewing public.
Fear was to play a part in this popular disparagement: critics were less affected by any exposures to immorality than by the challenge laid down to everything they had previously accepted in terms of painting. As if the subject matter was not enough, the loose handling of the paint infuriated them. They proved themselves unable to accept a contemporary viewpoint.
Now we are much more visually liberal and are willing to accept that, if a work is hung on a gallery wall, it must be art, and good art at that. Seeing the Turner Prize on television, I feel that we have gone too far in blindly accepting a section of the art world which seems hell bent on producing pretentious art gurus spouting incomprehensible artspeak. Maybe we, the critics, should start questioning not the artists, but the promoters who dismiss everything outwith the realms of their own tunnel vision. In the meantime, I'm out for
The Open Eye Gallery hosts an exhibition based on the theme of Oéjeunersur l'herbe, Sat 9—28 Jan.
IN THE FRAME I _
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In spite of an inconclusive and lacklustre report earlier this year.
the National Galleries ofScotland are still keen to see the establishment
of a new gallery devoted to Scottish art. NGS reckons that 60—70 per cent
‘ of its collection is Scottish. a large ' part ofwhich is never on public view.
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Pieda. the business consultants who were given the £50,000 job of appraising all the options. have suggested that the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh and. in Glasgow. the Sheriff Court and a site at Kelvingrove were the most suitable sites. The Dean Education Centre. opposite Edinburgh‘s Modern Art Gallery. they dismissed as being too far away from the centre of town and unlikely to attract enough visitors.
Francis Cadell (1883—1937): Lady in Black (Miss Oon Wauchope) .
It is surprising. then. to see that the
two front runners for the GSAH are now the Dean Centre and the Sherriff Court. 'I‘imothy Clifford. declares that Pieda‘s figures for the Dean Centre were ‘plucked out of the sky’. and that it is ‘nonsense' to
attract twice as many visitors. But. if he is keen for the new gallery to stay
in Edinbur )h. he nonetheless makes 2 , , , 5 . Ladell s famous Lady in Black. a
f bookcase by Charles Rennie ' Mackintosh. portraits by Raeburn
the competition sound very attractive. Glasgow Museums.
whom he describes as ‘hungry for the
allerv‘ would make it the centre of a . g ' ' Ferguson by Joshua Reynolds. Contemporary Scottish art is
continental piazza. with a cafe spilling out on to the street. shops. and busts of Greek and Scottish philosophers under a colonnade. Both sites are being offered for
; able to' understand how good the Scottish School is until we show it in g breadth.‘ he says. ‘Only then will we 1 have a good idea ofwhat really
distinctive art was being made in
‘tokenism‘ — why should we settle for showing one or two Allan Ramsays
works ofart. or at least historical
Campbell. Conroy. Paolozzi. Eardley and others.
nothing. but would cost in the region i (M‘randa ITame)
suggestthatthe Sherriff(‘ourt would . newgancry‘Nauonalcancncsmvc
of£15-£16m to develop. Whether the Scottish Office will ultimately be willing to foot the bill is another question.
If public opinion is still divided over the merits of a separate Scottish gallery. Clifford certainly makes a good case for it. ‘We shall never be
Scotland.’ He answers the question about ‘ghettoism‘ with one about
when we have 400 in the collection?
To give us some sort of idea of the interest. we can expect to see in the put on Scotland Observed , a
selection ofworks collected by them over the last ten years. These include
and Wilkie. and one of Adam
represented by Bellany. Currie.
Antoni Tapies, born in Spain in 1923, is one of the most consistent and respected artists living today. The exhibition of his prints, Monumental Prints, offers a rare opportunity to experience an essential part of the artist’s oeuvre.
His career has spanned nearly half a ‘
century, his earlier work forming an exploration and extension of Surrealism, with fellow Catalan Joan Miro providing a particularly strong influence. In the 1950s, Tapies developed his own distinctive style of bold abstraction, defined by a radical use of mixed media, thick impasto paint with dark colours, and a highly personal pictorial vocabulary. Tapies, which means ‘wall’ in Catalan, has used the image of the wall as an important point of identity in his
work. Inspired by the graffiti on the
walls of the Gothic quarter in Barcelona '
(graffiti was outlawed during the Franco regime), the prints, and similarlythe paintings, are not mere
representations of walls but
embodiments of their qualities and attributes. Tapies is more concerned with reaching the ‘spirit’ of an image
‘because when that spirit is understood
the form creates itself.’ This view clarifies the relationship of his work not
only to Abstract Expressionism but also 5
to Oriental thought and philosophy.
The expressive value of techniques and materials form a central element in the artist’s work, and printmaking offers a huge range of possibilities. Of the two series of prints in the exhibition (from 1988 and 1990) the more recent works are stronger. They successfully ' integrate texture and the expressivity of the pictorial elements, with the truly ‘monumental’ scale of each work. Their energy is undeniable. j
Printmaking has allowed Tapies to develop his own artistic language and § reach the widest possible audience without altering his style. His prints are. textures of cultural memories and dreams and, conscious of the Oriental sensibility for minimal information, they leave room forthe viewer’s imagination and personal reflection. 5 His work displays a noble, humanist concept of art. A rare thing indeed. (Caroline Ednie)
Antoni Tapies— Monumental Prints is at the Art Gallery and Museum, Kelvingrove, until Sun 10 Jan.
CZECHOSLOVAKIA: 1900 - 1950
On Loan from the British Museum
HUNTERIAN ART GALLERY UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW
24 October 1992 - 9 January 1993 (Closed 24/12/92 - 4/1/93 inclusive)
Monday-Saturday 9.30-5.00 Admission Free 041-330 5431 Subsidised by the Scottish Arts Council
lixtended public access supported with Funds from Glasgow District Council
65 The List 18 December 1992 - 14 January 1993
CYQIIJ CEDBED FINE ADT
EDITION DNNTINCG [QIh-QOlh CLNTIIDY I48 Wcsl DCgcnl él. Glasgow (.2 QQQ 041_'121:x303
THE WINTER COLLECTION
A Feast of small works by prominent and interesting British and European artists including BELLANY, BANKS, BRZESKA, CADELL, DERAIN, EARDLEY, FERGUSSON, GILL, GORE, HERMAN, HOWSON, HUNTER, KLIMT, PENROSE, PIPER, VAUGHAN, CHRISTOPHER WOOD plus COWIE, REDPATH, GILLIES, BLACKADDER, MacTAGGART