Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tate Britain: Apocalypse (last weekend)

Last weekend the world almost ended - or at least according to Harold Camping. It's hard to keep up, the world seemed to have been about to end soooo many times this year.

It seemed right, therefore, to go to the Tate Britain to see the exhibition Apocalypse of work by artist John Martin (as in the example above)

You certainly got value for money for his canvases were super sized and if you like the colour red, well you'll really like them. Epic scale, some with hundreds of people dwarfed by landscapes that seem to go on forever. Almost always there were snow capped mountains looming high above pastoral scenes, that, like Narnia, looked suspiciously like an English country estate.

The subject was usually biblical or classical era - think fall of Babylon or Pompeii - and the results were popular, drawing in the crowds like the summer blockbuster. The pictures went on tour, some going as far as Australia.

The art establishment was sniffy. "But is it art?" they would ask, as so many have before and after. Indeed when the Tate Britain was flooded and a John Martin got damaged the curators basically shrugged their shoulders. It was just a John Martin, after all.

It must be admitted they are not break-through material. It's not like Turner where you go wow, that's something new and different. It gets repetitive and the execution feels more like manufacturing than creation.

But it is good entertainment - pictures you like you haven't seen before, and you won't forget John Martin's name afterwards.

If, of course, there is an afterwards........


Tillerman said...

You sly devil. Sneaking in a hidden reference to your last post. But I know that at one time Martin and his wife took under their wing a young woman called Jane Webb, who at twenty produced The Mummy a novel almost as influential as Frankenstein.

Not to mention your obsession with London's sewage issues. Surely you know that Martin developed a fascination with solving London’s water and sewage problems too.

JP said...

Aahhh!! That was to be my next post.

Actually think it still will be as its a good story.