Filling in time waiting to meet a delayed plane, I went to the Kevingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow for the first time since its refurbishment (yes, I know that was 6 years ago, but …) It’s now amazingly visitor- and child-friendly, while retaining that gloriously random feel that a city museum should have. You never quite know what is in the next room.
So: a few highlights. The Salvador Dali Crucifixion first, of course. I knew nothing about the ‘nuclear mysticism’ which inspired the structure: Dali was fascinated by the atom, and had a dream in which he ‘saw’ the nucleus of the atom,
and wrote “I consider it to be the very unity of the Universe, Christ! ” (the black dot in the triangle being where Christ’s head would be in the crucifixion painting). He also wrote, “I want my next Christ to be the painting containing the most beauty and joy …” in contrast to crucifixions that dwelt on the pain and suffering; his Christ was to be “as beautiful as the God he is”.
Then wandering through to a little alcove, I came upon the story of the Italian Chapel in Lafaruk, Somalia. Captain Alfred Hawksworth allowed the Italian POWs to build a chapel in their desert camp, which they decorated with paintings of a Madonna (‘Regina pacis‘) and Child with angels done on the back of flour sacks. In the background of the paintings are their shelters, the washing lines, and the graves where the Italian soldiers were buried with full military honours. So Orkney wasn’t the only place this happened, though that chapel has survived.
There’s a wonderful exhibition of the Glasgow Boys paintings on until 27 September. I homed in on Sir John Lavery’s Anna Pavlova, which encapsulates for me that glorious wild time of Matisse and Stravinsky and the exuberance of the early C20th:
And to end: an inscription on a piece of marble hung on the wall that I’m still puzzling over:
Clay: the life
Plaster: the death
Marble: the revolution