Breaking the Rules or Setting up an Aunt Sally?

From Planet 245

by Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan

In a review of National Museum Cardiff’s new exhibition ‘The Rules of Art?’, Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan finds the conceptual juxtapositions of works from different centuries to be at times predictable and didactic, but is impressed by the beauty and power of key works from the Museum’s collection.

Rather than focusing on a particular artist or group, or one discrete theme, this exhibition presents works in various media – painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, film and ceramics – in order ‘to pose questions about representation, identity and culture’. The starting pointing is the old hierarchical, academic division of categories as defined by the French academy in the seventeenth century. That list was headed by paintings of historical or biblical subjects, followed by portraiture, then scenes of everyday life, landscape and, finally, still life. While this structure underlay much eighteenth-century writing on art, it scarcely exercises most people’s minds today, and the insistence that it needs to be challenged suggests that it was put up here as a bit of an Aunt Sally.

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About the author

Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan was formerly Head of Manuscripts and Visual Images at the National Library of Wales. She has published widely on Welsh art.