Clemmie Melvin gives us an insight into to the kooky crazy world of morning gallery goers.
A crisp winter morning at The Royal Academy. The Abstract Expressionist Exhibition is in full swing. Pre-booked tickets are being collected from the front desk. Reserved viewing times are being wavered in order to pacify the burgeoning crowd. The crowd. Ah the crowd.
Now that is exactly what I am going to discuss. Are art galleries merely
playgrounds for the pretentious? Or do they attract a more diverse audience? Seas of grey heads or scores of septum rings? Here is a sensationally stereotyped account of some of the characters I saw perusing the Pollocks’ in the Academy.
The Liberal Arts Students
Leo and Cassie are pissed off. Why did their professor set an essay on this exhibition? At the Royal Academy of all places. Cassie hates the gross commercialization of art by the Academy. Art is a basic human right. No-one should have to pay £14 for a student ticket, even if they are reimbursed by the Goldsmiths Art Department. As they both gaze at a Jasper Johns painting, Leo’s stomach lets out an enormous grown. He is finding his vegan diet rather limiting. A handful of almonds for breakfast is not really that satisfying. But of course he wont give up his strict veganism. He can’t. His mum made his whole family a nut roast for Christmas lunch, despite his younger brother and dad’s protestations.
After his feelings of hunger induced nausea have subsided, Leo whips out a black moleskin notebook from his canvas bag, whilst simultaneously admiring his new Doc Marten shoes. Cassie follows suit, pulling a pukka pad from one of the large pockets of her dungarees. As she begins to sketch, she toys with the idea of mentioning to Leo his hypocrisy; no meat or animal produce will pass his lips, but his notebook and shoes are both made from leather, and his brown coat looks suspiciously like suede. A debate for another time. They move onto another canvas, this time an oil painting by Arshille Gorky, Leo mutters to Cassie that he thinks “Abstract Expressionism is pretty peak.” Cassie agrees, “I’m more into the virtual reality thing. This is all so meta”.
The Boarding School Babes
Iz and Mills are hannngggginngggg. Post Teddy’s 18th they are feeling a little worse for wear, but they both pinky promised that they would see the Abstract Expressionist show at the RA. They need something to write their EPQs on and are both kinda stressing out that they don’t have anything to submit to Mrs Smith-Cox by the end of the hols. Iz is standing in-front of a De Kooning, whilst Mills (not so subtly) breaches the RA’s strict no photography policy. This is gonna make a hashtag sassy insta. Alas. The gallery invigilator has caught her, and sternly instructed her to delete the photo. FFS. Doesn’t he understand how hard it is to satisfy the followers? How hard it is to create an account which is both arty AND jokes? Moving onto the next De Kooning piece, Iz’s bacci tin falls out of her pocket and crashes to the floor. Cue gallery ALARM. Mortifying. A mass of Golden Virginia, rizzlas and filter tips are scattered beneath the canvas and Iz, now the color of her pink Puffa jacket, scrambles to pick them all up.
Two gallery attendants are now helping Iz collect all of her smoking paraphernalia and she starts to wonder why on earth did she ever stop smoking straights? A sweet, soft ten pack of Marlboro Golds would never have set off the alarm. And where the HELL has Mills gone? Mills has legged it to the next door room, desperately trying to suppress her giggles. Iz is such a moron. As they leave the RA ten minutes later they make another pinky promise; as soon as they are back at school they are going to change their personal statements, out with history of art and in with anthropology.
The Day Trippers
Viv and Di are in hysterics. They thought they were going to see “Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse” but have ended up at the Abstract Expressionist show. Viv had misread the dates on her new iPad mini. Vintage Viv. Now they are standing in front of a canvas by Mark Rothko and can’t make head nor tale of the thing. Di is convinced that her granddaughter could do the same, if not better. How can some squiggly swathes of colour be worth so much? And why did this Rothko chap never use any colours that were brighter than maroon? On closer inspection, the painting bears a striking likeness to Viv’s mauve longue.
Not that she would ever tell Viv that. Viv takes interior decoration very seriously. She has even started a course at the village hall. Or maybe Viv would like the comparison to a famous artist? As Di ponders whether or not to mention the aesthetic similarities of Viv’s longue to the Rothko canvas, Viv disappears, reappearing moments later clutching two headsets. Phew. At least now she can pop that on and risk saying anything that might cause offense. Viv starts looking at a Lee Krasner painting, fiddling with the minute dials on the headset, eventually locating the right channel. Ah this is much better. Far more context than on those little information boards next to the pictures. Di appears to of successfully mastered the headset too. They meander into the next room, both thoroughly enjoying themselves. Di looks at her watch. Perfect. They still have time for some cake in the café and then catch the bus to the West End in time to watch a matinee performance of “Mamma Mia.” Such fun.