Thursday, October 18, 2012

Art and more of the same

International art news.

Aside from the theft of the seven (!!!) paintings from the Netherlands museum earlier this week, the art world has been abuzz with news of Damien Hirst's most recent sculpture which has been hoisted into place in the little known British idyll called Ilfrascombe.
Named "Verity", the gigantum statue of a pregnant woman has aroused much ire and controversy. For Hirst, this is nothing new. In fact, if all the locals and visitors alike had loved it, one would have said Hirst was going soft or had lost his ability to offend, outrage or shock. This after all is his signature flair, his mark of showmanship.

There is something to be said about outsize work, from Tinguely to Gormley to Koontz and Saint Phalle, the large scale sculptures will always emote something visceral in the public, be it hate or horror or anger, or maybe even delight, it is public art and so I would contend that it must make you feel something. Yes, anything but mundane or indifferent would be good.

I found it rather ironic that someone should compare this new sculpture to Gormley's Angel of the North and actually deem the latter better, especially as Gormley's piece was once greatly rebuked and when it was first unveiled, it met with serious opposition.

While Verity is unlikely to leave anyone indifferent - from that towering stance, to the upraised sword and oh yes, the peeled back flesh - one is not going to view it without feeling some measure of subjective sentiment  - whether it is negative or not cannot be entirely predicted.

But returning to the (shocking) thefts at the Kunsthal Rotterdam, what is so fascinating about it is how easy it seemed to simply haved hoicked the paintings from the walls and sauntered off with them.

Later, the story was followed up with reports of how similar thefts are committed globally. These stories, like delicious morsels of gossip, hit the newstands and the fascination with the underbelly of illegal art dealings blossomed yet again. Words like "disappeared" and "considerable value" were brandished in the same sentence. Before you knew it, newspapers and online media were swapping stories about past thefts and experts were explaining how difficult it is to know who, why, where or how.

Art theft of itself is of course, nothing new. The FBI even has a website page specially dedicated to it; It is possible to read about what works are missing and the stories about recoveries (few and far between if you ask me). That some should only show up forty years later is rather telling.

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