Monday, 9 December 2013

Out & About: Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon

Alexander Calder

One of the highlights of our Lisbon trip was the Museu Colecção Berardo. It is probably the Portuguese equivalent of the Saatchi Collection as it is very large, although it concentrates on more on 20th century art rather than contemporary.

Amedeo Modigliani, Tete de jeune fille a la frange
It was interesting to see work by artists I didn't know as there seems to be an accepted English speaking trail through the 20th century, after starting in Paris and moving to Germany for the Bauhaus. I'm sure some of the work would be judged as of a lesser quality, but as Mark Elder, the conductor, was saying on Radio 4 this morning, the reception of the work at the time and now is so subjective and because these artists did not fit into the accepted narrative of living in the right place at the right time, that could be sufficient to have their work dismissed. 

Lynn Chadwick, Maquette for Teddy Boy and Girl II

For the first part of my viewing I was accompanied by our six year old daughter, dragging a gallery stool around, stopping and drawing the paintings that caught her eye. Eventually she was beaten by this one and would not be pacified by me explaining she had chosen a really difficult one (see below) that I would struggle with too!

Otto Freundlich, Untitled
She went off in disgust with her father and then I was given a guided tour of the rest of the 1900-1960 section by our 11 year old. It was fascinating to see what he liked - which was mainly expressive black marks on a white canvas.
Emilio Vedova, Presenza N5V
We explored the 1960+ section together, which neither of us enjoyed as much. He kept asking 'but why is this art, mummy?', which was difficult to answer at points. He wondered if he drew a line on a piece of paper and called it art whether he could sell it for £1million. I said it wouldn't be art as he wasn't an artist and what was the message or intent. He was more won over by the argument that no one would buy it...  It does get harder and harder to explain... Any suggestions?

Kenneth Armitage, Standing Figure


Margaret Cooter said...

Ah, kids say the darndest things - "why is it art" indeed... something to ponder and chew on. It probably boils down to: because somebody important says so - which of course raises a raft of other questions!
Modern art museums outside the UK (and the selections we are used to seeing) are so interesting, full of surprises and "new" artists to follow up.

Gillian Cooper said...

It raises loads of interesting questions, but probably answers why art is seen as 'good' or mediocre - it depends on the taste of the trend setters

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