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Label: paris

Friday 19th September 2014But Was It a Joke?

Often in the art world, it can be hard to guage how seriously to take something. In our neverending desire to reimagine and recontextualize the world, and our self-awareness of both this effort and the way this effort is perceived, it can sometimes be difficult to tell if sometihng is intended as a series work of art, a complicated conceptual joke, or both. This is especially true of artists ever since the beginning of Dada, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism.

This curious and intriguing interaction with the viewer was highlighted recently thanks to the Picasso museum in Paris, on the day of it's unveiling after a series of renovations. Expectations and anticipation ran high, as the renovations kept the museum closed and out of the spotlight for almost all of the five years it had been shuttered.

“I will first of all calm your ardour and your enthusiasm … but you’re going to see nothing. It’s a great disappointment. It’s an empty museum,” said the newly-appointed director Laurent Le Bon, who has held the directorship for only 3 months at the time of the press visitation - his predecessor had been fired over the numerous gaffes and delays that extended the renovation so dramatically.

In short, no, it wasn't a joke. The museum really has been closed for 5 years, only to reopen for a press viewing with no artwork hung on the walls. One can't help but feel sorry Le Bon, who had to address the press and take responsibility for the failings of the person who had held the post before him. It's strange to consider the fact that such a prestigious museum could survive under so many years of careless mismanagement, but also provides hope for the future that Laurent Le Bon - roughly translated in English as Lawrence the Good - may be able to wring some semblance of order out of the chaos and bring this tribute to the master of Cubism back from the abyss and into the limelight.

Somewhat inexplicably, however, the organizers of the press day chose to host the event well before the museum was ready, meaning that many excited vistors were treated to an intentionally bland arrangement of architecture - white stucco, white stairs, white walls, etc. This makes perfect sense when there is actual artwork on the walls, but when the musuem is empty, it merely serves to highlight that emptiness, as it has few architectural achievements in its own right. Certainly not what you'd like to hear after a 5 year renovation! Regardless, the museum will reopen officially to the public in October, which hopefully will serve to justify the choices made by the renovators.

Posted on September 19th 2014 on 11:57pm
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