Friday, 21 October 2011

Richard of York gave battle in vain

The title of this post is a mnemonic for the continuous spectrum of colours of red, orange, yellow, green, blue indigo and violet and it is also the title of an exhibition curated by Cornelia Parker which is currently showing at the Whitechapel (I think this becoming my favourite art gallery).

I paid my second visit to this show today and before my first visit I must admit that I had never heard of Richard of York gave battle in vain. I would have expected to have run across it at art school but then again I don't recall lectures on colour so maybe that's why I'm learning about it now.

These works are part of the Government Art Collection which totals, according to the booklet listing the pieces, more than 13,500 works of art.That's quite a collection and they are spread across the known world in government buildings and embassies and so on.

Cornelia Parker, whose own work is concerned with collecting and collections, chose to select around 70 works of art and arrange them by colour around the room and hang them in the style of the old Royal Academy exhibition. This means that some of them are hanging very high up indeed near the ceiling, and there is a general feeling of a lack of space. I quite liked this approach.

My favourite image, this time round, is the same as my favourite image from my last visit. Interestingly enough my companions were different on each occasion and we were all in agreement that Graham Crowley's Blue Lane (2003-4 oil on canvas) was a compelling piece of work and we'd have all like to take it home with us.

I enjoyed seeing some works that are hundreds of years old cheek by jowl with contemporary pieces. The drapery on Lady Anne Rich's portrait (1626) was mind boggling but so too was the complexity of Grayson Perry's enormous etching Print for a Politician (2005). I also enjoyed Darren Almond photograph of Flatford @ Fullmoon (2000) and Hamish Fulton's No talking for seven days (1993).

This exhibition is on until 4 December 2011 so I've got time to go and see it again. The following exhibition begins on 16 December 2011 and it's titled Travelling Light and the works, from the Government Art Collection, have been selected by Simon Schama.

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