'Looking at the View'

February 13 2013

Image of 'Looking at the View'

Picture: Guardian

I'm looking forward to seeing Tate Britain's new 'Looking at the View' show, despite the exhibition's curious raison d'etre, as stated in The Guardian:

"It is about putting the old and new together so that the whole collection looks like it is one collection rather than two collections," said Tate Britain's director, Penelope Curtis, explaining why art from across 300 years, including painting, video and photography, had been put together for the display, Looking at the View.

"There has been a tradition here, I think, that people either came for the historic collection or they came for the modern and contemporary and people were not very good at thinking that actually, it was all one collection. I'm interested in trying to make it cohere more," she said.

It seems instead, from the exhibits seen here, that the show is merely an amiable look at landscape in art. The exhibition is made up of Tate's own works, and fortunately this time around it's free (unlike the recent and woeful Migrations, which charged entry to see works mainly drawn from Tate's own collection). Not, incidentally, that Tate has spent any money on trying to make the narrative of the exhibition have any deep meaning, or - dare I say it, cohere - for:

There are no long descriptive labels and no route for visitors to follow, the display is all about looking, says the Tate. "Hopefully people will find different kinds of rapport and different meanings for themselves," said Curtis.

Long descriptive, educative and informative art historical labels - dontchajusthatem?

Update - The Grumpy Art Historian has more on the label phenomenon.

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