Just before Christmas we went to Paris for a short break.It was cold.Really cold.As tourists do we wandered around a lot and one of the things I liked about the Palais de Tokyo was the fact that it had comfortable sofas where we could collapse and rest after an exhausting walk in the freezing ice-rain streets of Paris.My son almost fell asleep there.The art?Well some of it good – engaging , some not so much.Husband walked around muttering things like ‘don’t really get it -what do you think …do you get it?I prefer the Louvre‘ etc.
I didn’t get all of it – but then contemporary art is often like that.You need time to feel the art – to engage with it in more than just a visual way and sometimes I think its fair to say you just don’t really get that with some art.Perhaps a lot has to do with context – perhaps sometimes you just need to be more comfortable – freezing feet don’t help.
The exhibition considered the role of history on the creative process .Creating ‘ a dialogue between medieval sculpture and conceptual art ,vaults and attempts to levitate, forgotten artists and those already blessed by history.When faced with this history what stance can an artist take today?Everything has been done already.’ When starting on a new piece of art the artist can be faced with what can be considered to be a kind of Hell consisting of new ideas overshadowed by the reminder of past successes.
The kids seemed to have fun in that ‘well Mum has dragged us here so lets make the most of it’ kind of way – they added their own contributions to Rudolph Stingel’s ‘Untitled’2003.This piece comprised a 4 metre high wall of silvered industrial insulation material.Intended to be reflective it became a piece about self expression – as the public made etchings and graffiti and placed small notes onto it.Paradoxically by creating the artwork they were also contributing to its destruction.
My favourite piece in the show was Sarah Lucas‘ ‘Is suicide genetic?’1996 shown above in which she uses consumerism as a means of understanding contemporary life.
Overall opinion of the show?To be honest it was only after I left the show and read more about it that I began to appreciate what the work was doing.It has given me food for thought as an artist – how the past of art can be something of a burden to the contemporary artist and how even when an artist produces something really successful – how do they continue – what comes next?
As a family – it was an experience – we went to the Eiffel Tower afterwards and walked up to the second floor – which lifted our spirits and blew us away with its sheer magnificence. It made me shudder at first but then I thought the brilliance of the past is always there – it can make other work pale in comparison but then perhaps it is just a matter of finding the brilliance in the less spectacular.
My son waits for me to ‘finish’ with the art in the Palais de Tokyo.