Thursday, 2 February 2012

Hockney etc

There is/are a number of extraordinary things about the Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy: its sheer size and scope; the vitality; the ambition- not so much to make a definitive statement but to demonstrate that life is exuberant, never-ending; the assured technique and the frequent references to great predecessors such as Van Gogh,Hogarth,Gaugin,Claude Lorraine, Monet. And there is meaning: the project is about life and death. I came away thinking I had been at a landmark event, like the exhibition Roger Fry organised in November 1910, Manet and the Post-Impressionists (a term which he coined) at the Grafton Galleries, London. This exhibition was the first to prominently feature Gaugin, Manet, Matisse, and Van Gogh in England and brought their art to the public. Virginia Woolf later said, "On or about December 1910 human character changed," referring to the effect this exhibit had on the world.

After a very delicious lunch with my sister at Rules, to the exhilarating One Man, Two Guvnors, a sort of grown up pantomime, brilliantly updated by Richard Bean to 1963 from Goldoni's 1745 Commedia dell'arte Il servitore di due padrone complete with toe-tapping live music chanelling the groups of our youth: Freddie and the Dreamers and the Beatles. This performance, its style and inventiveness and carefully-judged audience participation stunts went perfectly with the Hockney and the silverside of beef at Rules (est. 1797) to provide a snapshot of England at the top of her game.

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