Friday, June 16, 2006

Tom Burr / Modern Art Inc



Currently enjoying a large museum retrospective in Switzerland, it is interesting to see the work of Tom Burr in London at this tightly focussed Modern Art show. I say interesting rather than good, or enjoyable, because he is one of those artists who looks good on paper (literally, his work looks fascinating in reproduction) but in the flesh things are rather less impressive.

His project is essentially a queer revisiting of art history in relation to minimalism and the “architecture of intimacy” (i.e. toilets). This is pursued through the fabrication of louche minimal structures which are then often covered in velvet, velour, plastic, rubber etc to symbolically corrupt the supposed rationality of the form. These sometimes echo famous artworks (for instance he has made a large purple version of Serra’s Tilted Arc) and sometimes, as in this exhibition, play the part of figures lying prone or perhaps in abandon, accessorised with props like alcohol, silver fabric, and classic literature. It’s all pretty literal really, which is disappointing. He even goes so far as to use photos of Classical architectural fragments to symbolise the American mainstream, which surely is too simplistically reductive in anyone’s book.

Looking at this show I started to wonder who buys this kind of thing? Surely not private individuals, who would really need their own gallery-style space in which to house them. Are they aimed at the institutional market? In which case such a blatantly straightforward performance of gay sexuality might start to make a bit more sense, perhaps. You know how these institutions loved to be teased a bit, and nowadays that teasing performs the function of ticking access boxes as well. Result!

Nevertheless, it’s worth a visit just to see the framed painting/collages in the hallway which are pretty nifty in an elegantly formal way, without the overblown scale issues from which the main pieces suffer.

5 Comments:

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Anonymous canvas art said...

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3:09 pm  

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