Page 21 - Studio International - February 1969
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fascinating Bauhaus show recently. I say 'com-  ing the catalogue; and criticisms on the show.   Sculpture and
          pete', but I do not mean that aggressively,   2. This room could also be a place for dis-
          because I am sure we all feel that what Lon-  cussions and talks for artists, critics, serious
         don gets rather than where it goes is the over-  collectors and gallery people. Young artists  reality
         ridingly important thing.                  could show and explain slides of their work.
         Here are the reasons why I think the White-  Visiting foreign artists could do the same.
         chapel will continue to make a special con-  Food and drink could be laid on on appro-
         tribution.                                 priate occasions. In this atmosphere we might
          First, it is a very beautiful gallery with a very   be helped to. distinguish what is phoney or
         special light and atmosphere. For some exhi-  boring from what has integrity and vitality;
         bitions, especially of large paintings, it is the   what has novelty value from what is serious,
         most suitable and beautiful in London. I am   radical and good. It might provide an at-
         going to be extremely presumptuous and say   mosphere in which art was considered neither
         that if I were Kenneth Noland, for example, I   as religion nor as entertainment, but as an
         would prefer to show at the Whitechapel, hav-  activity, with its own life, to be practised and
         ing examined the architecture, space and   appreciated for its own sake.             A recent article by William Tucker (January
         lighting elsewhere in London. Also, although   One last word. I hope Bryan Robertson, whom   issue) raised some questions of the relation
         the Tate and the Hayward are nearer the    I only met twice before I was appointed, and   between sculpture and reality which deserve
         centre of London as the crow flies, they do not   who is being tremendously helpful to me   more attention. Implicit in a view of the rela-
         have the advantage of an underground station   without at all interfering, will not mind if I   tion between an art and reality is a view of
         bang on their doorstep. Added to this I like to   put on record a small tribute to him. I so well   the social relevance of that art form. The
         have it both ways and think that visitors to the   remember the great experience of coming   social relevance of any particular sphere of
         Whitechapel are in some way delightfully   from Cambridge in 1958 to see the Pollock   human endeavour is determined not only by
         sanctified by the trouble they have taken to   exhibition and the Whitechapel for the first   its nature and the qualities of those wholly
         make the journey.                          time. From then on I was a regular visitor. It   engaged with it, but also by the attention
         The second reason why I hope and think that   is easy to read history backwards and forget   which is given to it by people not primarily
         the Whitechapel will be able to hold its head   how much we have benefitted from this and   involved. The nature of the attention given
         up is that as far as I understand it the Director   similar exhibitions. As everyone knows, the   to any particular sphere of endeavour, from
         is very free. The source of important artists   Whitechapel is what Bryan Robertson has   outside that sphere, is a critical factor in
         with established reputations overseas may dry   made it over the last fifteen years. Its architect,   determining what happens within it.
         up. The greater and in many ways more      its Trustees, its benefactors and previous direc-  It is a characteristic of contemporary art
         exciting challenge of discovering the really   tors have played a highly important sine qua non   forms that they are of little immediate social
         remarkable artists who are as yet little known   role of course. It has also had other brilliant   relevance.
         remains.                                   periods over the last sixty-seven years : but   It seems to have been Tucker's hope that
         Finally I would like to suggest a practical way   basically the things it stands for now, such as a   sculpture of a new kind would, by virtue of its
         in which the Whitechapel could help raise the   divine impatience with insularity, combined   internal properties, force itself on the world
         level of criticism and appreciation and per-  with an inspiring, full-blooded and fully justi-  in a new way. He wrote, with great eloquence,
         haps conceivably even the general level of art   fied confidence in British artists, are things   of an 'Object World' and expressed some con-
         itself. I make this suggestion, I hope not tact-  that existed and continue to exist in Bryan   cern that the potential of sculpture to imagi-
         lessly, before having had time to consult the   Robertson's mind. How right he was to take   natively articulate that world was not being
         Whitechapel Trustees and benefactors and in   risks, to be so sensitive to people and ideas   realized. Tucker's concern is clearly for the
         particular the Greater London Council. At   and not to be a mere grey administrator.   survival and development of sculpture as an
         the moment the Upper Gallery, Whitechapel,   He has also given the new Director something   art form, that is, as a means of formulating
         a long and potentially beautiful room filled   to live up to.                        and articulating concepts from the realities of
         with light by its glass roof, is rented to the                   MARK GLAZEBROOK     human experience. His concern is not with the
         Greater London Council who use it most use-                                          social status of the sculptor or the more general
         fully for educational purposes. This rent is                                         social relevance of sculpture. Exactly what,
         more than gratefully received as the White-                                          then, is he drawing our attention to when he
         chapel's finances are precarious. (I am amazed   Forthcoming scheduled exhibitions at the   declares that there was unfortunately no place
         by the miraculously small budgets on which   Whitechapel Art Gallery are:            in the world for such (Object) sculpture, with
         they have worked.) If one could persuade the   Oiticica 25 February — 6 April        its potential to undermine a comfortable world
         GLC that an equally if not more valid educa-  Helen Frankenthaler 7 May — 8 June     view ?
         tional policy could be pursued by reunifying   Robert Downing 17 June — 13 July      A few observations on the character of the
         the Upper with the Lower Gallery as the                                              `Object World' seen in relation to sculpture
         founders and architect (Harrison Townsend,                                           will reveal that there are similarities, other
         a follower of Charles Rennie Mackintosh)                                             than those physical similarities to which
         intended in 1901 there would be a number of                                          Tucker refers. The 'Object World' is formed
         useful results.                                                                      in response to a bewildering complexity of
         1. Drawings, studies, working methods, early                                         human needs and desires. Tucker has already
         work and background material, a corrective to                                        pointed out the extent of our involvement with
         the impression that artists spring forth in mid-                                     it. It articulates the needs and desires which
         career fully fledged, could be shown upstairs.                                       it ostensibly exists to satisfy. It propagates
         Shown downstairs, this sort of material would                                        itself through actually failing to give satis-
         only make a fussy little distraction which                                           faction or through the creation of more needs
         would destroy the continuity of the full visual                                      and new desires. It is essential to the life of
         impact and experience of some exhibitions.                                           the 'Object World' that no object should be
         Upstairs could also be a good place for read-                                        wholly or permanently successful in all aspects
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