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Corot to Monet at the National Gallery until Sept 20th

From:     Rodney Ward
Category: Art
Date:     07 September 2009
Time:     03:55 PM

Review:

With only days left to run, I remembered that I should like to see the Corot to Monet exhibition if
I got the chance in London, so subliminal were my actual reasons for attendance that I put off on
about five occasions but last week I went because it is free and I was curious to see if anyone was
still hanging around Gormley's Onanism, well there was someone dressed as a clown who lacked such
impact as to make the few pigeons seem garish by comparison, the plinth is a sort of isolation void
for people who would otherwise run around starkers in a darkened room screaming the word
Freedom....I guess...and of course you are probably labelling this point-of-view as a bit of a
conservative or possibly a stuckist or some-one who likes Snot-Art.
Jumping the track here, I'm happy to declare Corot as a favoured artist, an historical figure of
interest who seems to speak through the antiquitary of those warm but often obscure little images
and I was curious to interpret this developmental idea of chronologically lucid changes in style or
technique exemplified by those perplexing "schools" of thought, The Barbizons and paysage historique
who brought gradual changes up to the comparitively brash Impressionists. You may be disinterested
enough to cease reading now as I can confirm that I remain a firm believer that hindsight in art
history is simply another artform and speaks nothing of the grit between a technique, a
predilection, economic circumstances, lost documentation and chiefly; ignorance.
Each time these assembled works are curated a little elasticity is applied, minimal or earth
shattering, agreed or disputed it changes the true context of such works so that the next time they
are featured the accretion of meanings and associations points our historical perspectives from 49
degrees to 50 degrees, a millimetre here a bee's wing there until a full furlong of opinion has
wavered back and forth. This is as it should be, that we renew the meaning of the old with new
context, for example were there any wars between 1780 and what.... 1850? Without some contemporary
context the painting becomes the object of bland technique, a craft without the artfulness of its
zietgeist thus the National Gallery is some thing of a home for the Snot-Art scrutineers who check
this brushstroke against that, who follow the notional idea's of the curational objective, to
illustrate the idea of speed-painting en-plien-air with oils on vellum, a pastime of certain artists
perhaps but not the whole story. If like me you like Corot for reasons obscure you will take a
modicum of pleasre in one or two of the later examples but you will not have your spirits lifted by
the bruised gravitas of dark walls and hushed reverence.


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