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Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Armani at the Royal Academy

I have been to New York's Metropolitan Museum many times. It has one of the most enjoyable collections of art that I have ever seen. One particular visit some twenty years ago stands out in my memory. It's not about some world-famous work. Away in a basement room, there was a special exhibition of clothing. Some of Cleopatra's finery, you might think, but no. The clothing was very modern; the dresses all had designs in the style of Mondrian. Now, I appreciate Mondrian's paintings (indeed, I have several originals) but I felt rather affronted by this exhibition. 'These Americans have no sense of appropriateness,' I thought. 'That sort of thing could never happen at home, ' I mused smugly. (Elsewhere in N.Y. State, I found a modern car door exhibited in a George Washington exhibition. Honest!)

Somehow, I missed the announcement in June this year that, having acquired the enthralling anthropological Museum of Mankind in Burlington Arcade, the Royal Academy would be having an Armani exhibition. It opens this week. See here for details. Some of the frocks look quite nice but I think I'm affronted again. Firstly because we've gone down a questionable route pioneered by our transatlantic cousins; secondly because we've lost the charming Museum of Mankind; and thirdly because the line between art and 'other things' appears to have been irrevocably crossed.

It's may be 'modern' and interesting but, as I said to my old granny when we saw the 'paintings' exhibited on the railings outside Green Park, just along Piccadilly from the RA, 'C'est magnifique mais ce n'est pas la Guernica'.*

(* © Josh)

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