What can we learn from the history of exhibition?
Secularisation: The role of the market
Historically artists worked for the open market rather than a gallery and in 17th century Holland paintings could be purchased from a shop rather than a gallery. The Acadamie Royale was devised by the Salon du Louvre to regulate the market by setting up an annual exhibition.
Education: The great exhibition, Crystal Palace, 1851
The exhibition featured plaster casts of classical sculptures so that people who couldn’t travel could view artistic masterpieces.
1- An exhibition is making public
Robert Barry, Closed gallery piece, 1969
Maria Eichorn, 5 weeks, 25 days, 175 hours, 2016
Still have to make public that the gallery is not exhibiting
-An exhibition is making public, therefore it is a social ritual.
-An exhibition is a social ritual therefore the viewer is part of the exhibition from the start.
-An exhibition is making public, therefore it is a form of theatre.
2- An exhibition is an argument.
The Impressionist gallery in the National Museum Cardiff places Cezanne landscapes adjacent to a series of Monet paintings, which seems like a natural transition because of the obvious link of Impressionism between the two artists. What seems strange is the Rodin sculpture places in front on them. There is no such thing as Impressionist sculpture so the museum must have arranged the artefacts in this way to encourage the viewer to see a link between Impressionism and Rodin. This attempted association may not be successful but it is nevertheless designed to create connections in the viewers mind.
An exhibition is a set of claims and arrangement determines their significance.
Ernst Wilhelm Ney, Documenta 3 Kassel 1964
The curator took the decision to hang the paintings on the ceiling, creating a new dynamic.
– The exhibition is an argument, therefore objects are evidence.
The degenerate art exhibition 1937
Paintings were used as evidence to suggest that minority groups were degenerate. Modernist art was being displayed as a symptom of insanity and a corrupt personality.
Paintings were displayed alongside quotations and slogans
How does an exhibition handle information?
- Like a dictionary; information is collected, rational and ordered. Linda Feregni-Nadler, The Hidden Mother, 2013
- Like a map; information is dispersed, the viewer has to navigate around the space and find links. Marinus Boezem, Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, 2017
- Like a magazine; principals of one room differ from the principals of another. Pockets of interest. Tobias Rehberger, Presently, 2016
An exhibition is an argument, so what is the relation between space, support and object?
The Walker Art Gallery displays a mixture of classical and neo-classical sculpture all in the same way; on white plinths. Depending on your point of view plinths can be seen as obtrusive and surplus or effectively invisible. Artists such as Constantin Brancusi and Rebecca Warren have highlighted the issues associated with the plinth in their work. Brancusi’s sculptures incorporate white cube plinths so that the support cannot be separated from the art work. e.g Eileen Lane, 1923
Rebecca Warren, The Living, 2013 featured painted plinths which stops the viewer from ignoring them.