Cover image of the review

Abstraction 17: A Field of Interest, c. 1968
  • Francis Plagne

12 May 2018
Charles Nodrum Gallery 26 Apr - 19 May 2018

What is the art museum for? What is its distinctive function? Is it, as the traditional humanist explanation holds, to preserve the treasures of humanity embodied in art works, collective treasures to which the public has the right of access as a source of ‘ennobling enjoyment’ (as a Parliamentary Commission in 1857 explained the role of London’s National Gallery)? Is it simply the ‘graveyard’ of dead art, as so many avant-gardists have claimed? Or is its function, as Boris Groys argues in a characteristically paradoxical and polemical essay, precisely to ‘kill’ what it collects in order to make ‘life’ possible, by providing in its collection the model of what artists should not do, what their work should not look like if they wish it to appear lively, relevant, and new – thereby becoming a sort of ‘machine that produces and stages the new art of today’?

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