Should the National Gallery open up to Modern Art?

February 12 2024

Image of Should the National Gallery open up to Modern Art?

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian published an article over the weekend regarding the question of whether The National Gallery in London should scrap its 1900 cut-off date. The piece focuses on comments by the art critic and former curator Julian Spalding, who claims that the current divide is 'creating this terrible fossil'.

According to Spalding the current cut-off point suggests:

“[It was] as if painting died then as a great art form. This isn’t what happened. The art of painting non-representationally was brilliantly reinvented for our times, by Picasso and Matisse, of course, and many others.”

 “Bringing the collection up to date will also naturally and most importantly widen the gallery’s representation of female artists and the art of many cultures, truly reflecting the nature of Britain and our world today.”

“When it was founded, the gallery’s collection was on-going, with paintings being added when their greatness became apparent. This was often, understandably, a slow process, but sometimes surprisingly fast. The Gallery bought Van Gogh’s Chair only 34 years after it was painted.”


This is an argument which has been discussed many times and touched on in several of Bendor's posts in the past. For myself, the biggest question here is one of space. The NG site just simple isn't as sprawling as the MET galleries in New York, let's say. In attempting to serve both masters, it is possible that both spheres would be watered down.

An interesting topic which will always generate interesting debate, it seems clear!

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