Take a seat…

The other week when E and C were over we visited the NGV.  Whilst there it occurred to me (not for the first time) that a lot of  art  is not appreciated at its full brilliance because it is simply not accessible to the general public.  By this I do not mean that it is physically locked away in some impenetrable vault, but rather that the meaning and purpose behind so much of contemporary art is not presented to the viewer. Therefore, the viewer must take the work at face value and make judgements based on its aesthetic value. Of course this opens a can of worms on the topic of the viewer becoming the creator of meaning and whether or not the artist’s purpose should be spoon fed to the public, which I am not here to answer, because everyone has different views on this murky issue (what are your thoughts?).  Of course, it is easy to dismiss a gallery full of modern art (lets say minimalism) either deciding that it is beyond your theoretical understanding, or just plain boring to look at, but what do you do when you round the corner into the design section of the gallery?  A room full of chairs is not just a slightly more inconvenient version of Harvey Norman’s furniture display, but rather a concise and relevent homage to society’s history. Before you groan about the pure wankiness of it all, consider this:  while it might be difficult to understand a work of minimalist art without a strong theoretical background, everybody understands a chair.  Chairs are for sitting on, therefore, they are directly associated with us.  They are not a painting hung prestigiously on a gallery wall, displaced from us by a high brow stigma.  Consider this chair by the Memphis Design group

Created in the early 1980’s this chair is a symbol of the time.  The lines and colours of this chair were then trickled down into main stream furniture and fabric design (you might remember Sesame street of the 80’s and 90’s used a lot of this type of design).

I guess what I am getting at here is that a lot of people dismiss design in galleries very quickly, thinking that it is too high brow, but don’t be put off.  Design is one of the most accessible forms of art because it affects all of us in our daily lives and effectively catalogues what the aesthetic values of a particular era were.  And afterall…….it is only a chair…

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