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Blog: Three Exhibitions At The BM

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Last Bank Holiday Monday myself and The Works In My Collection went to the British Museum to look at some of THE ART. The British Museum - or The BM, as all the cool kids call it - is much more known for its Historical Artefacts (even in The Marvel Universe, where it's somehow located in Trafalgar Square, it's All About The Egyptians) but it has a HUGE collection of ART, parts of which we have regularly been to see in the mighty Room 90.

Room 90 is a big room at the back of the museum towards the top of the building, so it feels like you are ASCENDING to rarefied heights when you eventually get there, after a LOT of stairs. It's about the same size as the Treasures Of The British Library exhibition at (guess where?) the British Library, which is the PERFECT size for an hour or so's Looking At STUFF. By the end you feel SATED but not yet completely KNACKERED.

We were there to see THREE (3) exhibitions, all of which fitted into this space and thus were all nice and short. The first one was called Drawing Attention: Emerging British Artists which, to be honest, wound me up no end because a) most of the artists weren't Emerging b) a large proportion weren't British c) a lot of the artwork wasn't drawing! The INTERESTING (to me) thing about it was that they'd done a REVERSO of the usual practice in Modern Galleries i.e. usually, whenever they show OLD STUFF, they feel compelled to stick something MODERN in too, in an effort, I assume, to appear RELEVANT. For this one they were showing lots of their recent modern ACQUISITIONS and had put them next to other OLD stuff that they had in their storecupboard. The Text In My Description pointed out that the effect of this was to say "You thought this was a new idea? Here is someone else doing it 300 years ago!"

The aforesaid Picture In My Frame enjoyed this one more than me - as I say, I allowed myself to get Annoyed by the title which put me off! CONVERSELY I enjoyed the next one more, which was called Printmaking in Prague: Art from the court of Rudolf II. This was MUCH more related to the title i.e. it was a bunch of PRINTS from Rudolf Junior's time in charge and also some other ones INFLUENCED by it. I had never heard of him or INDEED any of the artists involved but I enjoyed it very much indeed, despite the fact that the main artist, Aegidius II Sadeler (for some reason they put HIS number in the middle and Rudolf's at the end, I have no idea why) was completely incapable of drawing HORSES properly, despite having lots of practice. He was VERY good at drawing people and SCENES though, and especially MOUSTACHES and I liked it very much.

The final one was called Raphael and his school: Drawing connections and we BOTH loved it this time. As per the title, it was a collection of DRAWINGS done by Raphael and his pupils, and they were AMAZING. Just seeing the ACTUAL DRAWINGS and knowing that these were the very sketches made by their hands several hundred years ago was MIND BLOWING. Also, the fact that these were loose sketches made them feel much more IMMEDIATE and REAL than the actual finished paintings, which looked very stiff and FORMAL in comparison. It felt like these were REAL people which could have been drawn yesterday. Seeing for instance a sketch of JESUS being carried away from the cross was Quite Emotional in the pencil drawing, as you could see people struggling with the body and being UPSET, rather than the painting which looked quite STAGED. It was gorgeous!

Also of note was that the DESCRIPTIONS got better as we went through - the ones for the first one were full of what we in the world of Art Colleges (hem hem) call "ART BOLLOCKS", whereas the one for Raphael told us what it WAS and what it was MADE OF. For instance, rather than telling us that a picture had "intimacy tantalisingly out of reach" it pointed out that you could see tiny holes around the outlines of figures where pin pricks had been made so that DOTS could be put through onto ANOTHER sheet of paper as a way of transferring the image. I would LOVE to know more about this sort of MECHANICS - if anyone knows of an easily accessible DOCUMENTARY about this sort of thing I would love to know about it!

Thus we completed our ART VIEWING for the day, returning to the ground floor for a really really nice cup of coffee and a pretty bloody fabulous bit of vegan COCONUT CAKE. It was an EXCELLENT day for the SOUL, the BRANE, and also the STOMACH!

posted 9/5/2022 by MJ Hibbett

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