Picasso for Art’s Sake at the AGO
This is going to be a bit of a rant and I apologize in advance. But this is a blog and that’s what these things are really for, so..
From yesterday’s article in the Globe and Mail on the AGO’s upcoming Picasso exhibition:
One thing visitors won’t be getting is lots of information on the walls. Each objet will be identified in situ – but there is only one substantive text panel, at the show’s start, while each of the exhibition’s seven sections will be prefaced only by a single quotation, such as “Art is never chaste” (for the grouping called Surreal Anxiety and Desire/1924-34).
It’s completely intentional, of course. Didactic panels bunch up viewers and tend to mediate, even “blind” their experience of the art, Baldassari said.
“What we need to do is go freely to the work. We have to have the courage to be nude in front of the works. An exhibition is not a text, is not a book. We don’t need any explanation at the first level of contact … to respect it, to put people under its power. What is an exhibition but a machine to exhibit people to the work? We need to be in a direct relation, without any ‘facilities,’ no small stories, no narratives.”
(James Adams: Picasso returns to Toronto: Are you ready to be ‘nude in front of the works’?, April 24 2012)
Cringe. This view is so loaded with old-fashioned modernist thinking, with the idea of art for art’s sake, and that we go to see this exhibition to worship and be in awe of the creative genius that is Picasso… Needless to say, I take issue!