Young Geoffrey (ed_rex) wrote,
Young Geoffrey

"Pop Life" at the National Gallery of Canada reviewed

'Art' of Onanism:
Pop Life mocks the National Gallery of Canada

"It's not pandering. We have certainly not lowered our standards or principles in order to have line-ups at the door." — National Gallery of director Marc Mayer, quoted in the National Post.

Well. Thank God that's settled! But the denial does beg the question, "Just what kind of standards did the National Gallery have before Thursday's opening of the "blockbuster" travelling show, "Pop Life"?

Lonesome Cowboy, by Takashi Murakami: theft as art, in the worst tradition of Warhol.
Lonesome Cowboy, by Takashi Murakami: theft as art, in the worst tradition of Warhol (Wikipedia.)
Jeff Koons tells it like it is in Volume 27, Number 3 of ArtForum, November 1988.  Image reprinted from the National Gallery's Sex Sells.
Jeff Koons tells it like it is in the November 1988 edition of ArtForum. (Image: Sex Sells.

It's not just that we expect our politicians and priests to lie to us, and our journalists to transmit those lies with straight faces; it is also that we have somehow come to habitually lie to ourselves, unwilling (or unable) to acknowledge that which is spelled out before us, unless some Authority does so first.

So concerned are we with our status in the eyes of those we accept as authorities or experts, we will happily gorge on shit and, chins dripping with the muck, we will grin excitedly as the last chunk slips past our teeth and beg for yet another serving.

* * *

The opening of the National Gallery of Canada's summer blockbuster, Pop Life on June 10 (on until September 19), was crowded with hipsters and art-students and those members of the bourgeoisie who feel it imperative to put in an appearance at such events.

The crowd milled about with all the electric excitement of a herd of cattle on anti-depressants.

The men and women gazed with bovine approval at a second-rate sculpture of a naked man's huge and hugely erect penis, eternally spurting semen into the air; at pages torn from third-rate 1970s-era pornographic magazines; and at poorly-lit, still photos of an "artist" having sex with a man who has paid her $20,000 for the privilege.

Not to mention at a "dead horse", symbolizing ... well, I forget just what it symbolized; there was a little card with several explanatory paragraphs typed onto it, but the words seemed to have very little to do with what we were looking at.

But most of the audience seemed to nod knowingly at one another, and they exchanged stock phrases such as "transgressing boundaries" and "challenging patriarchy" and (to quote from the exhibit's PDF accompaniment, Sex Sells) "...tread[ing] too closely within or against the lines of common decency", as if imparting to one another the wisdom of the ages.

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Tags: art, edifice rex online, national gallery of canada, pop-art, review

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