Despite all the stormy weather we’ve been having, I managed to make it to the Picasso to Warhol Media Launch yesterday at The Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA). It was truly a big thrill for me. Apart from being shown a preview of the exhibition before it officially opens to the public on 16 June, I also got to attend a small press conference. AGWA Director, Stefano Carboni, and MoMA Director, Glenn D. Lowry, discussed this exhibition and the exclusive partnership formed between the two galleries to bring a series of exhibitions from New York to Perth over the next few years. They also answered some questions from the press and audience, and their answers proved to be fascinating for me. That’s what I primarily want to talk about here, rather than repeating the details of the exhibition, which I blogged about here.
Before I talk about these questions and answers however, I do want to apologise for the poor quality of my photos. I’m obviously not the best photographer, and my camera and I don’t do justice to this beautifully curated and presented exhibition, let alone the famous art it depicts. I urge everyone in Perth to go see it in person to gain a full appreciation, as photos can’t really convey the feeling of standing in front of a Picasso, or works that I have previously only ever seen in New York. I restrained myself from taking too many photos of paintings for this very reason: they need to be appreciated in person, where you can see the texture, dimension and colour of a work live.
So about this press conference. Pictured here are Stefano Carboni and Glenn D. Lowry. I found them both to be incredibly warm, open and intelligent people, deeply passionate about their work and art. As expected I suppose, but I wasn’t prepared for how intrigued I would be by their answers to some questions. One person asked them a question that I think is almost impossible to answer coherently: what do you consider to be ‘modern art’ these days? Ah, there are academics who are battling this question out in theory as we speak. I think for me, the interesting response from Glenn Lowry to this question was how he moved the discussion away from a defined timeline of modern art to an idea of consciousness and how we’re currently experiencing an engagement with identity that re-enlivens ideas of modernity.
Sorry if this sounds a bit too formal or academic, I just find this interesting from the angle of metamodernism. I’m one of the editors for the online webzine, Notes on Metamodernism, which explores various ideas about how our culture and our art has moved beyond postmodernism, combining the perspectives we have gained from postmodern thought with a re-enlivened modernism. So I had a bit of a ‘light bulb’ moment when Glenn Lowry was speaking.
Maybe though, another question that was more relatable was one that I think many people in Perth and Australia have been asking: why Perth? Why literally take art off the wall of The Museum of Modern Art in New York – one of the most famous museums in the world – and bring it to a relatively small and ‘isolated’ city like Perth? If you’re bringing such art to Australia, why not show it in our more well-known cities, such as Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane? I know that many people have wondered why this exhibition, and the many other exhibitions that follow it in the MoMA series, are being exclusively shown in Perth.
The answer both Stefano Carboni and Glenn Lowry provided proved to be an interesting one. They both discussed how there are no ‘periphery’ cities anymore, the world is closer together, and geography or population isn’t a primary decider of what art gets sent where. Stefano described Perth as a place of potential, and I agree with him. We do tend to make fun of ourselves here, as if we were some cultural and artistic backwater. But I’ve been watching a huge growth in artistic output and communities here in Perth. In my own group of friends, I know there is a hungering for art, and a hungering to develop the potential here. We can either cling to old stereotypes of a culturally deprived Perth, or fight against them and actually start to consider what we do have here. I think the Picasso to Warhol exhibition, along with the other exhibitions to follow it, is a good start in this fight. Having this art come to Perth from such an iconic institution as MoMA will provide a good impetus for a mentality shift here, and I can’t wait.
Go see it everyone, and if you’re inter-state, I really do think this is worth a visit to Perth as the only other time you’ll get to see this kind of art is if you visit New York. Thanks so much for the invitation to the media launch everyone at AGWA.
Also, don’t forget to enter my giveaway before I choose a winner on Friday.
GIVEAWAY UPDATE: Thanks so much for entering and for all your kind words! I really wish I could give you all a free print. But alas, I had to pick one winner. The name I (literally) picked out of a hat is ... tara-lynn! I'll be in touch with you soon ...