‘history of Modern Art? The

Someone Somewhere Wants A Gable From You by Ian Hamilton Finlay

gallery has been re-hung and all temporary exhibitions have been suspended until January. With 22 rooms to fill. the quality and diversity of the collection, some of which has spent years gathering dust in the store room, is now on display.

Although the Gallery appears well-established in its current home, it opened originally in lnverleith House set in the midst of the Botanic Gardens in 1960 and only moved to its present location, the former John Watson’s school in 1984. The collection has been assembled in a relatively short time from purchase grants, gifts and bequests.

Wandering through artistic movements such as Vorticism, German Expressionism, Surreal- ism and Contemporary, you quickly become aware of the impact of each particular space. ‘It has been regarded by some as the best gallery for concentrating on works of art,’ says assistant keeper. Patrick Elliott. ‘With small rooms. without stacks of people jostling past, it makes viewing the work digestible. You can do the whole gallery in an hour or two.’

But how do you hang a whole

current American Art exhibition at the Royal Academy in London has caused as much controversy for what it left out as for what it contains.

‘Sometimes it can be the frame or the parquet floor which makes the decision for you,’ points out Elliott. ‘But it’s not that difficult to choose. once you’ve decided on the style or ten years’ period. We have 22 rooms to play with and fifteen of those rooms are chosen for you. You’ve got to have one for Cubism. one for the Scottish Colourists. one for Surrealism. early French, German, 19305 English and so on. Once you know the strengths of the collection. it’s easy to figure out how to hang it.

‘There are certain periods where you get into a bit more difficulty like the 19605. There are about four different things going on in the 19605. in our 19603 room we’ve concentrated on Anti-Art and Dadaist art.’

The 19605 room is one of the most exciting.

‘the gallery has one of the most impressive collections of

Scottish and


modern art in Britain.’

With Jean Tinguely. Mark Boyle and Bruce Maclean. could the choice be thought of as a reflection of current trends? ‘No,’ Elliott explains. ‘lt’s an area in which our collection is strong. Our Pop Art wouldn’t have fitted into that particular room. it’s quite small and the Lichensteins are huge. Also we have a scandalous absence of Andy Warhols. So I chose that movement because we could do an interesting room from that period. It’s not done with any angle in mind.’

But there is method in this hanging madness and in one room Elliott points out the placing of work is suggested by relation- ships both painterly - and personal. ‘William Nicholson painted that and his wife, Mabel Pryde posed in that painting by Orpen, who was friends with Peploe who is in this comer.’ Ah. 1 see. ‘lt’s all on a sublime level,’ he says. ‘The paintings are linked by association but it doesn’t really matter ifyou don’t get it.’ Elsewhere, this associa- tion means an Alan Davie hangs beside Joan Eardley, a Derain next to Roderic O’Conor and a Steven Campbell behind a Baselitz, in the creation of arresting and often dynamic dialogues between works.

Whatever they choose, the paintings that hang in the gallery are bound to affect those artists who come to study them today; Oskar Kokoschka’s Zrani supposedly had a profound impact on the development of Scottish painting when it was acquired for the National Gallery in 1942. But this selection from the store is an intelligent synopsis of a huge body of work. ‘You can’t show it all’, says Elliott as he sits below one work which isn’t on show - a Modigliani fake ‘but with the concise catalogue as a guide, if it isn’t up and you want to see it. all you have to do is make an appoint- ment and we will arrange a viewing. The collec- tion belongs to the public after all.’ C]

100 Years of Modern Art from the National Collection is at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh until 1 February.

Which work and why?

100 years of Modern Art offers a plethora of choice. Artists select their personal favourites from the collection.

Ken Gurrie

I ‘llude Girl On A Fur’ (1932) by Otto Dix. I like this work for its shock value. It looks totally out of place in the gallery and looks instead as if it should be hanging in a Country and Western bar. it’s verging on kitsch.

George Wyllie I ‘Girl’ (1957-58) Bronze by Beg Butler. it’s a beautiful thing with great sensitivity. It used to be in

a great position in the centre of the pond at lnverleith llouse.

Louise Scullron

I ‘Two Lines lip Excentrlc VI’ (1977) by G-sar. I like this kinetic work on the lawn. The artist was born in Singer and so was my dad, so I feel connected to it in a way.

Eduardo Paolozzi

I “Woman And Still life’ (1921) by Leger. Why? because I adore him.

Henri Kondracki

I ‘The Painting Session’ (1919) by Matisse. I love this work for the colour. It’s wonderful to see a bit of Mediterranean colour in the greyness of Scotland.

Galum Golvin I ‘The Great Divide’ (1987) by lion O’Donnel. it’s one of the few pieces of photography in the collection.

It’s also a good example of his work which Is both political and funny.

Adrian Wlszniewski

I ‘Filles lie Sans More’ (1916-17) by Picabla. This Dadaist work was very important for the period. lle used gouache and metallic paint to suggest machinery and mechanical elements. I’ve always been a big fan of this artist because of his attitude rather than anything else.

Mathew Dalzrel

I ‘compresslon’ (1966) by George Bickey. I love this sculpture. it’s made up of compressed automobile


Gwen Logan

I ‘The Toads Of Property’ (1920) by George Grosz. ,

After years of going to the gallery, I was pleased at {

last to see some photography but am still asking

where is Bill Brandt, Andre Kertesz, Paul Strand and

Diane Arbus, to name only a few?

John Bellany

I “Portrait Of lee Miller’ (1937) by Pablo Picasso. I

love this painting for its beautiful serenity and the

most wonderful pink. I love it because it mixes me i


The List 5—18 November 199313