Dec. 29, 2021

Dirt and Crime

For a time I worked as a part-time guard in another city for a special exhibition of Picasso's work from the Picasso Museum in Paris. For the time it was there it had record breaking attendance. The galleries at times were packed wall to wall with people and began to resembled Reginald Marsh's drawings of Coney Island more than museum galleries. It was a miracle no work was stolen or vandalized. I did sometimes in the early mornings before anyone was in the museum or just before closing when everybody had left, have the galleries with Picasso's sculptures from the 1930's, and the gallery with his artwork from the 1940's completely to myself. The room that had his sculpture from the 30's was especially impressive empty and completely quiet.

     In this same city on May Day there was a march and demonstration concerning workers rights, etc. With that demonstration there were also groups of violent anarchists breaking windows and spray painting buildings, shop windows, etc. At one point the demonstrators and the anarchists were at a community college along their route. Outside the collage there is a life sized abstract sculpture. The anarchists were heading to the sculpture to spray paint it when a woman put herself between the sculpture and anarchists and started pleading with them not to vandalize it.....that it had nothing to do with what they were protesting. That led to a tense standoff between the woman arms outstretched trying to protect that sculpture and the surrounding protesters. Finally after some tense moments the protesters moved on. Why that woman protecting a work of art, was not later featured front and center as a hero on the local art magazine for that city or given an award by the mayor was a crime far worse than any destruction done that day by the anarchists. 

     One thing did drive me crazy. There were educational tours constantly of the exhibition concerning the work. It was the perfect opportunity to educate the public about Picasso and about modern art. Instead every tour only went into the dirt ( which wife, or mistress, what breakup, what affair, etc. ) behind each work they talked about. Not one word was said as to why it is a good or important work,... a groundbreaking work...a work good enough to be hanging in a museum. Not one word concerning composition of color or how it stands compared to work done by other artists at that time, or how it stands in art history. All the people attending those tours came away with no understanding about modern art or why Picasso work is good or important. All they went away with was.. the dirt.