I’ve got a lot of art at home. Some on the walls in the house, and a lot in my studio space upstairs. At least 95% of it is my own work, possibly more. I like living with my own work on the walls, it gives me a chance to look at it and to think about it. However, that is not to say that I wouldn’t like to have the work of others in the space around me.
I posted a while back about a vague thought I have, to one day make a hugely accurate copy of an original artwork that I really like. How would that be to have around? A Matisse for company, that would be quite strange in my familiar (and fairly small) domestic space.
The context around an artwork has an impact on what we see and think. The white cube type gallery space is an attempt to offer some sort of purity and isolation to the art as we view it. But as a context this sort of immaculate wall space brings a context of its own and a particular sort of serious art world baggage.
Numerous artists have played and experimented with artistic and environmental contexts. It is the basic exhibition space for street artists and urban hackers and the likes of Alexy Kondakov have experimented with ripping high art subject matter from its usual location before depositing it in a new and contemporary environment.
Displacement of art and its subsequent relocation is certainly nothing new, Lord Elgin and the British Museum (plus countless others) have excellent examples.
But to return to the more domestic environment that I started with. Another artist, responsible for a considerable output of manipulated photographs in this area is Paul Kremer, with his project Great Art in Ugly Rooms. The images are packed with humour as the reverence that is normally given to these famous artworks is torn away as they are deposited in the trashiest, kitsch, chaotic or yes, just plain ugly spaces. What does it change in the artworks? Well, quite a bit in many of the examples….we’re really not used to observing how the Rothko matches the curtains or how the huge gestural work or Franz Kline seems oddly to cope somewhat better against the back wall of a garage.
It is all entertaining stuff, but to can’t help thinking at the back of your mind about how many great works in private collections around the world must do battle with their own domestic interiors. How many are squeezed between a plant and over-sized lamp fitting, lost in a cluttered kitchen, or indeed become forgotten and left against a wall in the garage?