The students on the Courtauld’s MA in curating programme are behind this exploration into the concept of gravity in art. It is a promising idea. Unfortunately, the execution of this exhibition fails to convince.
The justification behind the inclusion of some of the pieces appears worryingly tenuous. Little distinction appears to have been made between art that explicitly considers gravity, and art in which gravity is present (which, of course, it is in most).
Rodin’s Nijinsky sculpture is a stunning study of muscular tension, but it has little to do with gravity, and should surely be displayed so that it can be appreciated from all angles, rather than backed up against a wall. It is hard to see what commended Jacob de Wit’s uninspiring watercolours Ascension and Fall of the Rebel Angels above any other of the numerous paintings of the same subject and period. Perhaps these were all that the Courtauld students could get hold of?
…the human fascination with an apparent defiance of gravity and impending collapse.
The more contemporary works featured do at least tackle the gravity concept head on. Clare Strand has photographed a girl hanging above the ground in Aerial Suspension, and Cornelia Parker has hung bricks from wires in the centre of the room to create Neither From Nor Towards. Both manipulate the human fascination with an apparent defiance of gravity and impending collapse. Yet there is little more to these pieces than visual trickery; we know both subjects are hung by thin wire. So what?
The students behind this show have undoubtedly touched upon an interesting idea. Perhaps the questionable relevance of certain pieces to the exhibition’s theme would be more forgivable if they were superb pieces of art in their own right. The centerpiece of this show is Parker’s Neither From nor Towards; much of what is on display was neither here nor there.
The exhibition continues until 4 September.
Image courtesy of The Courtauld Institute of Art