For no particular reason other than it was a wet grey day, K and I decided to visit the Dulwich Picture Gallery. We’d seen that they were running an exhibition on Van Dyck (The Guardian states that he was the Warhol of 17C portraiture!) and that made up our minds.
Yet rather leaving the gallery some hours latter thinking about the pictures I had seen my mind was filled with a whole range of thoughts about exhibiting approaches and how I might apply some criteria to my final exhibition.
Up until now I had mainly thought about the final exhibition in terms of scale as my first exhibit at the interim show – see here – were rather swamped by the size of the setting. Yet today my thoughts changed.
The Gallery was small, well lit, and full with paintings and artefacts. In some areas, as above, the positioning worked in the painting’s favour as the viewer’s eye was naturally drawn to it while in other areas the number and spacing of objects made them work in terms of points to form a patter but less so in terms of individual content. An example, of what I mean is shown below.
Another factor in the relative power of the painting seemed to have to do with the framing of it. For example, the two paintings of windmills sat each side of the main painting shown below were the same size. Yet one had a large deep frame that added a level gravitas too it that the other did not. Yet when I examined the paintings (as distinct from the effect of the paintings within the frames) they were similar on quality, style and evocation.
I also noticed that the method of hanging and relationship with nearby items has a profound effect on the viewing experience. For example, the painting below evoked a sense of gravitas and reverence created in part by the space accorded it and it relationship to the other artefacts around it. Indeed the photo below shows how the hanging cords help draw the eye toward the painting, and show how irritating the non alignment of the draws with the painting hurts the eye.
One of the pleasures of viewing original items is that the viewer can stand back and enjoy the vista or choose to get up close and look at the detail as in the case below. You can really do this online as the viewer is left with the choices made for them by the poster.
As we turned a gallery corner we were presented with this double sided spinning painting hung centrally from the ceiling (see below). It made for a good spectacle and challenged the viewer to study the image.
All these thoughts have made me turn my attention away from the curation of the book and the organisation of my websites, and turn toward the final exhibition. I am note sure what I will present or how I will present it, but I am sure that the issues I have identified here will help me answer those two questions at some point over the next few months.