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By Graham-Dixon, Andrew | The Independent (London, England), October 11, 1996 | Go to article overview
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Graham-Dixon, Andrew, The Independent (London, England)


Andre, Carl In Andre's art it is as if the whole Western tradition of sculpture has been (literally) steamrollered. While other sculptors of his generation dispensed with the plinth, placing their work directly on the floor, Andre dispensed with everything on top of it and declared the plinth itself to be the work of art. Nearly all his sculptures are platforms of one sort or another.

(Carl Andre's sculptures, Anthony D'Offay Gallery, 21 Mar 1989)

Bonnard, Pierre Bonnard is a much-loved artist but the true magnitude of his achievement has been insufficiently recognised. In his surreptitious, soft-spoken way, he invented a whole new language - a way of painting which is so mobile and fluctuant, in the shifts and moves of light across its animated mosaic of surface, that it becomes a potent analogue for experience; a way of recreating, in the texture of art, the texture of life itself. ('Bonnard at Le Bosquet', Hayward Gallery, 5 July 1994) Clemente, Francesco Clemente is a skimmer. He borrows willy-nilly (especially willy) from the iconography of Hindu temple statuary, he borrows from Mughal art and Rajput miniatures, all in an attempt to graft some kind of cultural respectability on to his lightweight pictures. But the borrowed forms that fill his art are like souvenirs, and his mysticism is the easy awe of the tourist. (Francesco Clemente, Anthony D'Offay Gallery, 20 April 1993) De Kooning, Willem His best pictures are not major contributions to Western visual culture, or anything else as abstract and high-sounding as that. They are evocations of strange, dreamed orgies - attempts to evoke, in painting, something like the experience of having sex with someone gorgeous in a bath filled with maple syrup and milk while eating a fried egg and bacon sandwich. De Kooning's genius was inseparable from his essential indecency. (De Kooning retrospective, Tate Gallery, 21 Feb 1995) Education In the late 20th-century art students are taught to think of themselves as artists without being given much in the way of other instruction. No wonder that an enormous quantity of modern works of art amount to little more than mild buzzings of self-consciousness, fears or fantasies embodied in objects or actions, images or texts, dreamily shared with an audience that is relied upon rather too heavily to take an interest in them. (BT New Contemporaries, Cornerhouse, Manchester, 22 June 1993) Freud, Lucian Freud's achievement is to have made the milieu of the artist's studio, a place of waiting and contemplation and boredom, into a model of the world as he sees it through his own, disconsolate temperament: a place of limited possibilities, where all there is to do is paint or wait, glassy- eyed, for death. (Lucian Freud, Whitechapel Gallery, 4 Sept 1993) Goya, Francisco The paradox of Goya's imagination, so vivid and inventive, so swarming, is that it expresses a profound distrust of the claims made for the imagination. Imagination is what Goya finds most dangerous and suspect in human beings: that which is responsible for the delusions and fantasies that lead to war, the myths that lead to religious servitude, the ingenuities of torture. He painted the terrors of the mind to release himself from them. (Goya, Royal Academy, 22 March 1994) Hirst, Damien Hirst calls his dead sheep in formaldehyde Away from the Flock and that looks like something of an admission. The work is really a kind of self- portrait, banal and sad, too: an image of the artist's knowledge tharfectly summoned up by an actor playing a part without conviction. (Kitaj retrospective, Tate Gallery, 28 June 1994) Louvre, The (v National Portrait Gallery, London) Visiting the Louvre's new Aile Richelieu is like visiting four or five new museums. By a peculiar coincidence, in the same week as the Louvre opened its new wing, London saw the opening of a new extension to the National Portrait Gallery. What a sad comparison it makes.

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