Art collecting at the National Gallery

It's incredible to think how works of art, such as Seurat's Bathers at Asnières made their way from the artist's pallet all those years ago to the walls of some of the finest buildings in the world. 

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Whilst visiting London yesterday I thought it would be a good opportunity to go to the National Gallery and attempt to replicate the art gallery style of Thomas Struth. The capital during the summer holiday was bound to draw crowds of tourists, and it was exceptionally busy in the National Gallery. 

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In my earlier post about Thomas Struth I referred to how the National Gallery have relaxed their rules on photographing the works of art. Partly because it was so difficult to monitor the use of smart phones taking selfies and also because it is so easy to get a copy of any painting of the web, albeit at a lower resolution. 

Without my DSLR, I relied on using my iPhone to capture the images on this blog post. I had visited this gallery many years before, when taking a photograph was considered to be like ripping the painting off the wall and hanging it in your own home. So to be allowed to photograph in there was an unusual position to be in.  

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Many visitors were using their digital devices to take advantage of the National Gallery's leniency. With the click of a button you could have Van Gogh's Sunflowers on your screen and take with you. In some ways this 'art collecting' is advantageous to the a National Gallery, because these collectors will upload the art work to social networking sites such as Instagram and Twitter, tagging the gallery in the process and subsequently publicising it for others. Since the gallery is free to enter, presumably to enable more people to have the opportunity to view a piece of our history, it maybe considered aworthwhile activity, sharing the artwork across digital networks. 

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However, the downside to this is that the experience for the viewer is hampered. The primary viewer, at the gallery, may find it difficult to see the paintings in their full glory. With so many people swarming around each work of art it was very difficult to take the time and look, and appreciate, what was there. Some were moving around photographing so quickly, it could have just as easily been the graffiti on the gallery walls outside that they were photographing. 

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For the secondary viewer, looking at the art work on a screen does not do it justice. Some of the paintings in the gallery are huge. You really have to be there to appreciate the time and skill it took to create them. Many digital copies also exist that have not been captioned. I too have failed to take the time to identify the paintings depicted in this blog post. Without the detailed information displayed alongside the painting on the gallery wall, we view the image at a superficial level. 

Yesterday art appeared to be devalued due to a desire to duplicate and dispense something that had always been rare and unique. Hopefully the images people see will encourage them to visit these galleries to see for themselves. After all  there's nothing like being able to stand next to the original piece of art. 

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