Thursday, 26 November 2009
Piccadilly, south side
A cycle to the Royal Academy, where the sculptor Anish Kapoor is showing pigment works, reflective sculptures and some new works (until 11 December). The galleries are stuffed with visitors, waiting for a cannon to fire great lumps of wax splattering into a corner of one of the galleries every 20 minutes, leaving gobs of coloured gunk on the walls and door posts to leave an effect that is a little reminiscent of the hideous, creative mess of Francis Bacon's studio.
In a series of other connected rooms, a great lump of coloured wax squeezes sluglike and almost inperceptibly slowly through the connecting doorways to leave another cleaning bill for the RA. There's something theatrical about this work, but you spend a lot of time looking and waiting, as if you are watching a glacier. A little more erosion would help, perhaps a wall falling over and collapsed ceilings.
From a cafe across the road, it occurs to me that the sculptor Henry Moore may have enjoyed Kapoor's work. Moore suffered at the hands of the RA in the 1940s when the harrumphing "modern art nonsense" president Sir Alfred Munnings ruled the roost. A cannon firing at the RA's walls would surely have appealed to Moore — Munnings, on the other hand, must be rotating in his grave at Large Hadron Collider speed. Moore's dislike for the Academy, early in his career if not later, was such that if walking along Piccadilly he would cross to its south side outside the window where I sit, to avoid even being on the same side of the road as the RA. I'm sure I've read this somewhere, anyway, even if I can't unearth it now. But it sounds right.