Thursday, October 08, 2009

"I (don't) know what I like"

Strange times when the brightest thing that happens to you is at a tube station, when you've just had the journey from hell from Baker St in the rush hour because the signals have gone down at Edgeware Road, and the pop legend or, ahem, POP GOLD, Darius comes up and asks to use your phone cos his is broke. He was polite (and no, popbitch, his credit had NOT run out) and called his dad to tell him he'd be late.

Which is what art is this month.

At the Royal Academy my fave, the sensational, understated, wholly creative genius that is Anish Kapoor, whom I have not only met but had dinner with in Venice and like enormously, opened his new mega blockbuster show. It's a mix of old riffs (bright pigments in strange shapes, lovely first time around) a room jammed with concrete extrusions in defiantly non-architectural forms, a fab mirrored room, a sensational courtyard piece of mirrorballs, and the climax, the mainstay, the bada-boom! (literally) several galleries given over to dark red wax being fired from a cannon or trundled along a rail. It's big. It's red. It's messy. It's about space and form and challenging the old, nay destroying the old, with the new. It''s er, well, it's um ...big.

Which Pop Life isn't. At the Tate Modern they've crammed a lot into a small, awkward, ill-fitting series of rooms - including family(twins) selected by Damien Hirst for his installation - and we're excitied and at the preview (these things get more and MORE packed) and, well, um....

This is Pop Art that I've known all my life. Warhol, Haring, Koons, Emin, Hirst etc and it's all jammed into a space that's slightly claustrophobic, all the photocopies, dirty bits and pieces and thoroughly tastless porn of Koons. It should be exciting. I was at the original Pop Shop set up by Keith Haring on Lafayette in New York City to sell his ephemera to the people, my kids played with the fridge magnets for years. It was fun at the time and still looks good in some respects, although the shock news of the night (for me) which didn't come from the exhibition at all but a friend who told me that haring was never really a graffiti artist, the very thing he's famous for, he was an art type who used chalk. (to the purist graffiti artists that's a different thing entirely) Hirst's new gold plated stuff is amazing. The Japanese maestro Takashi Murakami has a video with Kirsten Dunst going Japanese in what appears to be Akihabara (Electric Town) which I am stunned by and it's all, well, it's all....

Quite unexciting. Like Anish Kapoor.

It's not that I don't get it, I understand the rampant commercialisation that has informed 'Pop' Art from Warhol onwards, I understand Anish Kapoor's strategic attack on the Academy, I even enjoyed the parties and previews. But there's no wit, no enjoyment.

I do know about modern art, it's just that I don't know what I like.

Oh dear.