I have decided to review a third exhibition as a possibility for my Essay, this exhibition holds special resonance with me because i volunteered on the opening night of this exhibition as a gallery assistant, so i spent 6 hours with this exhibition discussing it with other volunteers and guests to the opening night. This gave me plenty of time to assess its curatorship and how effective it is as an exhibition. Also it being a solo exhibition allows me to focus on the artist themselves rather than on a group of artists with many different ideas and theoretical aims.
This exhibition relates to my work based learning unit and was the first time i worked in a gallery setting, and discussing the exhibition with other staff and volunteers allowed me to learn more about how to curate my own work, they also discussed with me things they would liked to have done differently to create more impact which was an insight in how to be critical of your own curatorial skills.
This exhibition looks like a collection of an artists work, based over 3 large rooms on the ground floor of the gallery. The first room contains 4 pieces of large scale printing work using repetitive imagery. The second room contains acrylic panels situated at the same level on all 4 walls to create the illusion of being in a hotel room looking through the windows. The third room contains Peters most famed work, the water glasses, these are positioned in a straight line at the midpoint of the wall along 2 walls, and then displayed on the third wall in a tiled square of 150 paintings. The other wall of this room contains more random selections of his work including a collage of a sky and several half finished looking paintings of flowers.
images from the exhibition taken from the Milton Keynes Gallery Website:
one of the 150 realistic style paintings of a water glass, each of these shows the exact same subject but have varying tones depending on the time of day they were painted. i also spent time examining them closely and discovered on some of the pieces the reflections on the glass showed the outside world such as the shadow of a tree or a person in the room at the time of the painting.
how the glasses looked on the back wall displayed together, it was quite magnificent to see how much time and effort had gone into creating the exact same painting everyday, the gallery had originally wanted 1000 of the 5000 glasses he had painted, but due to unforseen reasons they were only given 150 of the examples, i believe if the whole room in the gallery had been covered in these it would have been much more impressive.
the four pieces in the first room, references to the holocaust were suggested by fellow volunteers due to the artists german descent and his involvement in world war 2.
below are the answers the questions from the handout we were given and my first rough draft how how i want the essay to run:
Essay working title: A Critique of the Exhibition entitled “Peter Dreher” at Milton Keynes Gallery
This essay intends to provide a critique of the exhibiton that took place it Milton Keynes Gallery from the 20th September 2013-24th November 2013, it is a solo exhibition of the German Realist painter Peter Dreher. This exhibition has been decided upon because of the personal connection made with it whilst volunteering on opening night at the exhibition and for a further four weeks, it also gave valuable information on curating in a gallery space and this essay intends to critique it upon that platform. This essay also intends to study the links between the exhibition and Drehers work and that of ideas of class, for his work represents a new type of “pop” art for its time and the ideas of making every day found objects into realistic masterpieces, there is also a theme of “time” in his work that I wish to explore further.
This exhibition relates to my own practice and specialism because as a contemporary fine art student it’s important to learn about how exhibitions are curated on a smaller scale as this is the more likely first step in getting my own work exhibited. I also have an interest in realist paintings and strive to learn how to create these, and it is interesting to see them being used in a way that gives contemporary meaning to a still life piece
Below is the passage on the wall at the exhibition and also being used on the Milton Keynes gallery website:
20 September – 24 November 2013
Preview: Thursday 19 September/ 6pm-8pm / All welcome
This autumn MK Gallery presents an exhibition of work by Peter Dreher (b.1932), a painter from South West Germany who has produced a daily painting of the same, empty glass for the last 40 years. This remarkable series, of which there are over 5,000 examples, is titled Every Day is a Good Day, taken from a Zen-Buddhist saying that suggests everything is of equal importance.
Dreher’s practice is contemplative, diaristic and obsessive. His work highlights minute changes in our surroundings, deliberately marking the passage of time and ultimately providing evidence of the artist’s existence. His work inevitably recalls the subtle shifts and gradations in Giorgio Morandi’s still lifes as well as the rigorously serialised approaches of Dreher’s contemporaries such as the conceptual artists Hanne Darboven, On Kawara or Roman Opalka.
The exhibition at MK Gallery will be organised in three groups: the Long Gallery will include around 150 of the glass paintings from the 1970s to the present day, as well as related engravings, watercolours and drawings; the Middle Gallery will bring together still lifes, including paintings of flowers, foliage, vegetables, skulls and a large series of detailed and close-up pencil drawings of an aubergine; and the Cube Gallery will feature architectural scenes made up of separate canvases, each of which was painted in a single day.
– See more at: http://www.mkgallery.org/exhibitions/#sthash.9buzLTHQ.dpuf”
This essay will utilize the information from the gallery publication as well as other sources such as the artist’s website, any interviews the artist has done on the work featured in the exhibition and the opinions of the curator at Milton Keynes gallery.
When this essay considers the curating of the exhibition it will look at which pieces were put together, how they were displayed and lit and how the pieces were ordered, did they flow well from one piece to another or did it seem disjointed? It will look at whether the pieces of work selected for showing related well to one another, if not what statement was the curator making? It will look at whether any of the work has been censored, whether the work has been explained or if it is being left to the mind of the public viewer and whether the overall layout of the work made for an exciting exhibit.
What I found particularly interesting about this exhibition was how the artist had painted the same image over and over 5000 times, what these images represented and how they tied in with the other pieces of art in the exhibit. I also found a connection with the art whilst discussing it with the public that related to pop art, but a different type of pop art than I had seen before, it addresses the issues of class by painting regular objects as opposed to using his realist painting skills to create elaborate portraits or challenging subject matters. But it addresses these issues using more traditional mediums; I am interested in how this collaboration between political statements about what should be defined as art and the use of traditional mediums contrast each other. I also found it significantly interesting because of the way it was displayed, it many different pieces of art mixed in together with no foreseeable connection at first, I’d like this essay to explore how the pieces fitted together to form the exhibition and whether it was displayed effectively.
Viewing the exhibition has caused me to think more about how I curate my work, because the layout of these pieces made as much as an impact as the pieces themselves and whilst speaking with the curator at the exhibition she had many critiques over how it was done and how she would like to have done it differently. This has informed my own practice by allowing me to see the importance of experimenting with the displaying of work to ensure I get the best from it, rather than going with the first idea I have on how to display it.
Bibliography ideas (newspaper articles mainly at the moment, i will go to the library on the hunt for books on the subject of class used in art and pop art theory books)
What Makes a Great Exhibition? [Paperback]
Glenn Adamson (Contributor), Paola Antonelli (Contributor), Carlos Basualdo (Contributor), Iwona Blazwick (Contributor), Lynne Cooke (Contributor), Thelma Golden (Contributor), Mary Jane Jacob (Contributor), Jeffrey Kipnis (Contributor), Paula Marincola(Contributor, Editor)