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Friday, July 14, 2006

Must Have Lost Their Heads

A top art gallery in Britain displayed a block of slate topped by a small piece of wood as a work of art, unaware that it was merely the plinth for a missing sculpture. The Royal Academy in London later admitted that it was confused because the plinth and sculpture—a human head by artist David Hensel—were sent to the museum separately. "Given their separate submission, the two parts were judged independently," museum officials said. "The head was rejected. The base was thought to have merit and accepted." —The Week, June 30, 2006.



Featured Comment by Kevin: "Keeping up with the avant garde is always a risky business."


Blogger dyathink said...

i love the head with the plinth on the base. the plinth reminds me of a mother's hand supporting the weight of a newborn's skull, except that this head with its frozen mocking grin is supported by a bone-shaped plinth and could be found on a corpse. The base is the earth--ashes to ashes, etc. and the grin sums up the whole experience of life and death. If i was the artist i would have had the head of the idiot who desecrated the piece.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Paul Butzi said...


I thought it was fairly funny, too, until I realized it's the equivalent of my sending a framed photograph off, and having the curator accept the frame and mat, but reject the photo.

That's got to leave a mark.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Colin [] said...

That plinth has been bothering me for some time now:

Regardless of whether one personally likes the version with or without the head, I think that the episode really underlines how subjective this game we play is.

It also points up how far removed connoisseurs can become from, for the want of a better term, everyday taste. I feel that the famous man on the Clapham Omnibus would have seen the plinth for what it was.

None of which is to say that the RA shouldn't have shown the plinth if that's what they wanted to do. But really, of merit enough for a place in a London gallery? Wasn't there anything better?

11:29 AM  
Blogger Robert Roaldi said...

Ageed, Mike, it's a nice looking plinth.

But it's a plinth.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Dave New said...

Is that kind of like "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" -- Freud

12:16 PM  
Blogger Vikas said...

funny and painful for the artist I guess!!

Anything can be art all you need is vision ;-)

2:23 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Keeping up with the avant garde is always a risky business.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Gromit said...

Mike, here's a story from the BBC about a simliar phenomenon:

An excerpt:
A thirsty thief is being blamed for downing a bottle of water, valued at £42,500, at a literary festival.

The two-litre clear plastic bottle containing melted ice from the Antarctic was devised to highlight global warming by artist Wayne Hill.

But the warm weather is thought to have got the better of someone who snatched it at the Ways with Words festival at Dartington Hall in south Devon.

American-born Mr Hill said the bottle was clearly a work of art.

He said: "It looked like an ordinary bottle of water. But it was on a plinth"

See how important a Plinth can be? :)

7:41 PM  
Blogger Countertop said...

Thats pretty funny. A number of years ago - mid 80s - I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York City one winter day. As I was walking around, I stumbled upon a glove that someone had obviously dropped. considering the pieces in the room I was in to be complete rubbish and realizing that whoever lost the glove would stand little chance of getting it back at the lost and found, I decided to put it over part of one of the pieces in the room in the hopes that the owner would see it if they were looking for it.

It was still there there the next time I visited some months later.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Dan Mitchell said...

This is almost literally the 4'33" of sculpture, isn't it? Everything is there except the actual sculpture.

For the few who may not know, 4'33" was John Cage's piece for a solo pianist who sat silently at the piano for, yes, four minutes and thirty-three seconds. Cages' commentary on performance gave us every element of the event of the performance except the "music" itself.

While Cage's "work" seems absurd to many, there is more to it than may be apparent to them.

11:09 AM  

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