David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

01 January 2015

The Era In Review

antique |anˈtiːk|
a collectable object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its age and quality. Pauline loves collecting antiques. [ as modifier ] : an antique dealer.

Not so long ago, the appreciation of antiques was relatively common in Australia. Cities, suburbs and country towns all had their prominent main street Antiques businesses. 

But, who collects antiques now? Or even aspires to? Scarcity, price and the spirit of the times have mostly cleared that field of activity. 
Until recently, as the categories of the collectible changed, the collectors still continued to collect. The model seemed solid : plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

As Australians slowly got Modern, display behaviour shifted from objects of antiquity toward things of the present. A change towards currency and presence.

In the collection and appreciation of Australian Painting, for example, the spotlight moved from Colonial art to the Heidelberg School and then to The Antipodeans. Minimalism, too, was embraced; not so much in painting as in domestic architecture : but where do we put things...?

 as the art of the present (so-called Contemporary Art) was claiming its turn in the light, deconstructive interrogation and postmodern theory were making plausible sense to the Gen Next of would-be collectors : they paused...
Then came the digital net, hauling in and offering everything (sic) at little cost. So what if it wasn't real or original? The simulacra was well rehearsed and already quite sufficient for most.

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Wemmick's advice to Pip 
At Mr Jagger's office, Wemmick shows to Pip a plaster cast death mask of one of their clients, 
a murderer.

Illustration by John McLenan - courtesy TAR   
A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
someone looks at something...


      While he was putting up the other cast and coming down from the chair, the thought crossed my mind that all his personal jewelry was derived from like sources. As he had shown no diffidence on the subject, I ventured on the liberty of asking him the question, when he stood before me, dusting his hands.

      “O yes,” he returned, “these are all gifts of that kind. One brings another, you see; that’s the way of it. I always take ’em. They’re curiosities. And they’re property. They may not be worth much, but, after all, they’re property and portable. It don’t signify to you with your brilliant lookout, but as to myself, my guiding-star always is, “Get hold of portable property”.”

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
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The Depression generation of hunters and gatherers, hoarders and collectors, is no more. 

Now, faced instead with an embarrassment of excess, the ethically chic are transforming their previous collecting zeal into aspirational down-sizing and displays of decluttered-ness. At the de-centre of this, the ubiquitous digital genei.

In May last year, we wondered here about the future of going to art galleries and collecting art as part of a cultured way of life? Might that be a way of the past?

A few years ago, your correspondent was astonished to hear a young art museum senior curator say she could not understand why people collect things. Huh?! Surely, a contrary canary-in-the-mine sign.

In October, David Byrne blogged about his changing perceptions and personal disenchant-ment around Contemporary Art. click to read :
I Don't Care About Contemporary Art Anymore?

As these observations continue to mount, the Melbourne art critic Robert Nelson's Year In Review in yesterday's print edition of The Age was summarised as Galleries at crossroadsHe begins :

      For me, 2014 has been a year of reckoning. The art scene has had to reckon with the collapse of substantial parts of the commercial gallery system, which used to be a mainstay. Every year, the scene appears more fragile, reflected in galleries closing or merging.
A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
someone looks at something...