27 January 2010

Museum of Everything

A stone's throw from the pastel gentility of Chalcot Square, Primrose Hillis the Museum of Everything, with Exhibition#1 running till 14 February. (It opened at the time of the Frieze art fair in October, and proved so popular it was extended.)
I'm not a big fan of "outsider art" (it can be obsessive rather than interesting) - but there was much to enjoy and think about here. Including the warning signs -
and the commentaries on the work by artists in all media - musicians, even. See a slideshow of 11 works here.

Most of the 200 works in the exhibition were never intended for display - they are "extraordinary works of privacy". The venue - a former dairy and recording studio - has a large space and many smaller rooms - very suitable.

"Outsider art, which can encompass visionary art, naive art, primitive art and folk art (definitions are debatable but the term broadly applies to art produced outside of the influence of mainstream culture and art institutions) has been acknowledged and widely exhibited by the art world since Jean Dubuffet first coined the term 'art brut' (raw art) in the mid-1940s." (Read more of this review here.)

My useful notebook, always to hand, records Eva Rothschild's words: "[Nek] Chand who directly and determinedly made his dreams reality is like a touchstone to return to again and again as a model for how to make and continue making work."

It also notes the names of Leonhard Fink, Emery Blagdon (wonderful wire constructions), Morton Bartlett ("a private man whose passion was creating a fantasy family"), Judith Scott (yarn-wrapped objects), Aleksander Lobanov, Augustin Lesage (35 years a miner, and then her heard a voice...), Martin Ramirez (wonderful patterning), Henry Darger (the Vivian Girls), Forrest Bess - and Richard Wentworth's words, which seem to apply to many of the works: "The nail, chieftan of the wire tribe, always carries with it the weighty sense of purpose of the individual who drove it through the timber."
But the work that most affected me was the painstaking letters of Harald Stoffers to his mother. First he draws lines on the sheet of paper; he has a system. The words are variations on the same theme: telling his mother which trousers he wants to wear. Perhaps it's the words "Liebe Mutti" that ring some distant bells in my pre-English-speaking past. I had to buy the book and read more about him ... it asks, "Who does Harald Stoffers write his letters for?" If they are our concern, it says, perhaps it is because we can understand the experience of everyday writing.

In the exhibition, I held up my notebook, open to some recent "travel writing", in front of one of Stoffers' letters, and asked, "Do you see any sort of similarity here?"


beatrice De said...

Hello mane. I like schetch (?) books. Reminde me lot of souvenir. These one sems beautifull !

In the news paper i have read you had lot, lot of snow in London and in England in général. I hope you survive !
Big kisses. Béatrice.
Ps. I have open a blog for knitting ideas. Have you seen it ?

Sandy said...

Hi Margaret,
Actually when I saw the first photo, before I read the words I thought. "oh, she decided to write on some of the lines!" So, very similar. Fascinating what you find shown as art that "normal" people could show if only they didn't think it was just an exercise.

Did anyone decide why he wrote to his mother about which trousers? not a normal mother son conversation, I should think. unless it was the sort of relationship where that was all he could think of to say which would be common to the two of them.

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