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Recently the BBC Radio 4 Consumer Programme ‘You and Yours’ hosted a discussion on the art gallery experience and art gallery etiquette. Are art galleries now too accessible? What are good museum manners? Should children have free rein in our galleries? The panel included one of Cassone’s writers, Alexander Adams, who feels that all too often it is impossible to engage with paintings in a calm reflective environment in many art galleries today. You can hear this discussion by following this link. And let us know your thoughts on what for some is a problem and for others all part of an enjoyable gallery experience.
In Cassone this month we have our writers visiting galleries on both sides of the Atlantic. Patricia Andrew discusses the re-hang at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and tells us that there is a ‘great deal to see’ as there are three exhibitions on at once:‘20th-Century: Masterpieces of Scottish and European Art’; ‘Reflections: A Series of Changing displays of Contemporary Art’, on until 10 January 2016 and ‘Surreal Roots: From William Blake to Andre Breton’ on until 5 July
Louis Byrne saw the exhibition at the Photographers Gallery, London, ‘The Chinese Photobook’ curated by Martin Parr and the Dutch collective WassinkLundgren, on until 5 July. He explains how ‘China's history and that of the photograph in China are and remain inseparable…This exhibition is a must for anyone who wants to witness the power of photography in Chinese history, whether for better or for worse.’
Rosalind Ormiston went to the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth, England to see the exhibition ‘Alphonse Mucha: In Search of Beauty’, which closes on 27 September. Rosalind comments that it is fitting that the exhibition should be at this gallery ‘as the building, erected 1897–1901, was commissioned by wealthy Bournemouth hotelier Merton Russell-Cotes (1835–1921), as a birthday gift for his wife Annie. Their house, now the museum and gallery, is a time capsule of opulent Victorian taste containing elements of Art Nouveau in its architectural design, interior decoration, furniture and paintings.’ Alphonse Mucha’s name is synonymous with the fin-de-siècle style of Art Nouveau. So as we have better weather now, if you are in the UK have a lovely day out by the sea and go to Bournemouth this summer.
I attended the press view in Norwich of the exhibition ‘ARTIST ROOMS: Jeff Koons'. ARTIST ROOMS is a collection of modern and contemporary art acquired for the nation by National Galleries of Scotland and Tate through the generosity of Anthony d’Offay. ARTIST ROOMS On Tour enables this collection to travel around the UK, and we hope inspiring many people, particularly the young. This summer it takes Jeff Koon’s work to Norwich, the only venue in the UK that will be showing his work this year.
Meanwhile Victoria Keller went to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, which to mark the centennial of the beginning of the ‘Great Migration,’ as it came to be known, is presenting ‘One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement’. This exhibition, on until 7 September, tells the story of the greatest internal migration the USA has ever known, the multi-decades long mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North. In 1910, 90 per cent of African Americans lived in the southern United States. By 1970, almost half of these had moved north.
Stephen Bury writes on the new Whitney museum in New York and the opening exhibition ‘America is Hard to See’. He says ‘With Renzo Piano’s new $422 million building at the bottom end of the High Line the Whitney returns to its roots’ with this ‘stunning functional building’. Coming from England I had no idea that Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s collection of American art had been refused by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Stephen notes that now the Whitney has ‘the better building’.
Jenny Kingsley went to the Geoffrye Museum in Shoreditch, London, which started life as almshouses for 40 pensioners before becoming a furniture reference museum. Shorditch was the hub of London’s furniture trade from the mid 19th century until the 1950s. Now it is a museum dedicated to the appreciation of the home, past and present. Towards the end of May it was announced that the Geffrye Museum of the Home has been awarded £11m by the Heritage Lottery Fund to support its ambitious plans to ‘unlock’ the museum, which will greatly improve access and enhance the experience of all the museum’s visitors. I expect Jenny will visit again to see some of these plans put into practice, as I hope some of you will too.
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Cassone – ca-soh-neh – the elaborately decorated chest that a wealthy Italian bride of the Renaissance period used to hold her trousseau: a box of beautiful things.