Well I spent last evening in the company of Julian Barnes, and much to my surprise I had a really good time. 'Keeping an Eye Open', it's a seriously good read, he writes about art with real insight. In fact if I could forget the Corsham stuff he might persuade me to look again at Howard Hodgkin, not completely sure about that.
So Tony Cragg has a new show at the Lisson Gallery. They are truly real things, these things, proper things, things of substance, space occupiers, gravity rooted, high tech., seriously clever things of wonder. There should always be a little wonder, there is wonder in Rodin's 'Age of Bronze', there is wonder in Hearst's 'Mother and Child Divided', and here there is a lot of wonder, and as I won't be making a trip to visit them then I will have to wonder on. I shall wonder how they are made, what they are made of, who made them, where were they made and why? You see I should love them, sitting there in their sculptural glory, I crave the substantial, the concrete, the floor huggers, some days I could die for a plinth! But there is an awful lot of them here, I suppose this is really Tony Cragg's Autumn Collection, can we shop on line?
Lets return to Julian, Keeping an Eye Open, chapter 15, So Does It Become Art......... 'The tests are simple, does it interest the eye, excite the brain, spur the mind to reflection and move the heart, and is an apparent level of skill involved? Much currently fashionable art bothers only the eye and briefly the brain, but it fails to engage the mind and the heart. It may, to use the old dichotomy, be beautiful, but it is rarely true to any significant depth.' We know where Julian is coming from, I always thought pastel mohair sweaters so that shows you what I know, brilliant, and there's a lot more but you will have to go and read it, I'm done quoting. So that's one the for eye, two for the brain, three for the mind, four for the heart and five for the skill, so how do we score the Cragg show, is it a solid three or a shaky four, lets look at the scoreboard! But that won't do, it's too easy to make a crack, and we really need all the help we can get, pick up the Guardian and you will have Mr Jones crushing Gormley one week and beatifying Tracy the next, you could wonder if you were on your arras or your buttress. I am going to thank Julian and tick all the boxes with this brilliant five.
AGED AND AWKWARD