Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector, Barbican Art Gallery

'Last Kingdom', 2012. Damien Hirst. Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2013

‘Last Kingdom’, 2012. Damien Hirst. Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2013

It is too easy to be cynical about this show at the Barbican, after all most of us collect (or have collected) ‘things’. There was little that surprised me here, some of Martin Parr’s postcards made me chuckle, and the large spiders in Damien Hirst’s Last Kingdom sent shivers down my spine, but what struck me was the amount of stuff that humans produce and consume, some of it rational, some of it bonkers.

Making connections between the collected objects and the oeuvre of each artist was down to the viewer, introductory text panels provided some insight. Does it matter that we know why someone collects elephants, in varying sizes with geometric patterns, not really. The value of the exhibition was that these objects have been revealed to us just as they revealed themselves to their respective owners before they became consumed by them.

I didn’t buy the catalogue, somehow it seemed fitting to let these objects fade from memory, some more than others.

 

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