Over the last few days I have looked at some art.
The National Portrait Gallery has revived an exhibition I saw a while ago at Montacute House in Somerset. It consists of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century pictures which were bought as being a particular person, but were then realised not to be that person, and left marooned as anonymous in the storage vaults of an institution that's all to do with the named. They got a few authors to write stories inspired by the pictures, though I didn't actually read those this time. It's the sort of exhibition that's good for the imagination, though it does suffer a little from being on a landing. There's also a little exhibition about Charlotte, Princess of Wales, and her cousin who later became Queen Victoria, and how Charlotte laid the way for Victoria's image.
I also went next door to the National Gallery, where they are showing the Titian Diana and Callisto. I do like the little free exhibitions which the National Gallery does showing one picture, or one main picture with a few related things, just in one room, and with interesting directed captions. In this case the Titian is alone and the room has lots of information about the collection it's from, the subject of the painting, and some translated Ovid. There's also a bench in front of it so you can sit and look at it properly. This is in striking contrast to the over-crowded, over-priced and under-captioned exhibitions which the National Gallery puts on in its basement blockbuster exhibition space.
Somerset House has a "contemporary graphic art fair" called Pick Me Up on in the Embankment Galleries. I'm not quite clear what "graphic art" is as opposed to just "art", but I think it implies lower pretensions, and more interest in the concept of illustration. I really liked some of the stuff there, particularly a watercolour by Rikka Sormunen of a tired woman being hugged by a monster under her bed. I also liked Jon McNaught's wildlife charts, and Paul X. Johnson's Rachael picture. Because I got lost on the way out I stumbled across a free exhibition of art by one of Japan's leading traditional tattooists, which was also good.
Then I went to the late night opening at the V&A. I foolishly took a friend who is not fond of loud crowds; the V&A late nights are very popular. I'm never quite sure what to make of the V&A. Sometimes it seems a bit like the nation's attic, full of high-class tat, and sometimes I stumble across cool things in there. For the late night opening they had a lot of music, and story-telling, etc. They had put a brightly-lit disco ball in one of the big dark sculpture galleries; I was quite enjoying this until I found out it was art. Apparently it was called "Mechanisms of Disorientation: Towards a Fragmented Understanding". According to the bumph, it "reflects on and distorts notions of space and cultural reflexivity. ... Reflecting on past histories vis-a-vis contemporary objects, [the artist] draws a parallel between how we observe history in relation to affairs in contemporary culture". I think that the phrase "I was quite enjoying it until I found out it was art" would probably describe my relationship with modern art in general.