On Friday evening after work I met with The Canvas In My Frame outside the National Gallery, where we had tickets to see the Monet and Architecture exhibition. Here is my review: it was dead good, but REALLY busy!
Getting in was quite good fun, as we had to stride through various other galleries studiously NOT looking from side to side (you get distracted that way) and then we met a member of staff who seemed to be being played by Julie Walters as Mrs Overall. We'd printed out tickets out so they could be scanned by one of those cool machines, but she wanted to TEAR the corners of each of them (despite being printed on a single sheet together), and then she checked her watch to make sure we were in the right window of entry (they do it by time) despite the fact that she wasn't actually WEARING one!
Once in we picked up tiny BOOKLETS which had all of the descriptions of the paintings on then. This was a BRILLIANT innovation as it meant that they didn't have to put the descriptions next to the actual paintings, and thus you didn't get the usual thing of everybody queuing up to READ them and blocking the pictures. Instead you could read the notes beforehand and then SWOOP in when there was a gap in the ever-moving crowds to get right close up. The only disadvantage was that, these being Monets, they often looked better from a little way away. The TRIALS of the ART LOVER eh?
The books were FAB except for TWO (2) things. Firstly they didn't have the actual PICTURES in (I guess so that you still had to buy postcards at the end if you wanted to have a KEEPSAKE) and secondly the numbering was wonky. We reckoned they must have printed all the books and then the CURATOR decided to move pictures around, which was a bit confusing but not SO bad because, as stated previously, you were diving in wherever you got the chance anyway. Other than that it was ACE - more of these exhibitions should have them, ESPECIALLY when they're charging over twenty quid for a ticket!
The actual PAINTINGS were GRATE, OBVS, and there were LOADS of them. It got a bit overwhelming after a while - usually when one HAPPENS across a Monet in an Art Gallery (as one occasionally do) one thinks "OOH a MONET, I've heard of him!" but here there was about EIGHTY of them, one after the other. They'd done it by PLACE, mostly, so you got to see several different paintings of the same area, which meant that sometimes it felt like you were looking at a painted version of Google Street View. The BEST, according to ME, was the room that had his some of his paintings of Rouen Cathedral and the Houses Of Parliament all together. I'd not realised before that he did loads of canvases at the same time, but it did make sense - apparently he'd do a BIT of one painting at a certain time of day, then switch to the next one when the light changed, and so on, so they'd all be basically the same composition but showing the change in light. The most DRAMATIC was the three versions of Parliament they had next to each other, with STRIKINGLY different lighting. The guidebook said that Contemporary Reviewers talked of them being MUSICAL, and you could certainly feel a RHYTHM to them, also, for some reason, BRASS.
With the mobile crowds and the booklets we all seemed to RACE round at high speed, which to be honest is how I LIKE to do my galleries, and we were out the other side in less than 90 minutes, which meant we had plenty of time to nip round to TIBITS for tea. It was a GRATE bit of THE ART, and a DELIGHTFUL way to kick off a weekend!