Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Cultural Magpie: Jonathan Jones on the Whitechapel

Here's a great feature in the Guardian on the eagerly anticipated new Whitechapel Gallery.

I'm not always sure about Jonathan Jones. I know he's a genius, and an amazing writer. But I don't always understand what he's writing about, the references he makes. Art isn't my strong point, although I'm learning things all the time.

This piece, however, makes great reading.

I haven't been to the Whitechapel, but I've written about it. And this article, filled with references to people I've been learning more about in the last two years (Mark Wallinger, Cornelia Parker, Nicholas Serota, Cy Twombly, Rachel Whiteread) really gives you a taste of the gallery, the artists involved, as well as the wider city, and the art world as a whole too.

Here's a choice snippet from the end, although I could have picked several from the article:
In this new age, good public art galleries have a renewed vocation. Artists will need supportive environments more than ever, and modern art itself will need powerful champions in a Britain likely to revert to conservatism with both a small and a large C.

Anyway, art isn't everything. The Whitechapel is still surrounded by poverty, and its original, philanthropic purpose remains as urgent as ever. I've left the Whitechapel's most beautiful new space until last. Right at the top of the building, a glass-walled studio enjoys an astonishing view over the neighbourhood, including Hawksmoor's Christ Church and Toynbee Hall. I walked in expecting this to be the swanky new restaurant, but it turns out to be the education room, dedicated to teaching school children about contemporary art. The best view has been kept for them.

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