22 Jan 2006 The Amazing Laura Cumming
Abstract Art is a problem for Art Critics and Art Historians, because if a work of art has no external reference to examine, then the critic has less to consider and less to discuss. The Art of the critic is to overcome this obstacle and find something to say. If the Critic is inclined to favour the art, then he or she, risks being sent to Pseuds Corner.
Laura Cumming, of the Observer, began discussing the Dan Flavin Retrospective at the Hayward Gallery, by posing the following question, “Dan Flavins Art is amazingly beautiful, but is it anything more?” The full page of Laura's precious prose went about answering that question in the affirmative.
Yes, Laura they were “beautiful”, I suppose, but were they really so “amazing” and were they in any real or metaphorical sense “glowing Greek temples?” as you suggested. And Laura, just how does a “red placate an irritable green”, and what made the green “irritable” in the first place?
We are of course talking about stock fluorescent tubes arranged in various configurations. The first time I saw such an effect, (that of a fluorescent tube) I might well have thought of it as a “magical” experience but only if my thoughts were chemically induced....... Laura? ......We've all moved on Laura; some of us have TVs and Microwaves.
When we first arrived at the gallery, I asked about taking photographs and was told politely that it was not allowed. However, as we walked around we noticed that people were snapping away with their mobile phones and so Mrs Monk decided to have a go herself and produced this wallpaper. Soon after she snapped it, she was confronted by a stern young lady in black who told her that she must delete the picture straight away. Mrs Monk declined. The stern lady followed Mrs Monk for the remainder of our visit. As we walked about the gallery, we found no evidence of amazement. Many children ran about screaming, as they do, and barely noticed the light show, because they had all seen it before, at Top Shop.