Whitechapel Gallery, London, May 2013
If nothing else you have to admire the honesty. Gone is any appeal to philanthropically aiding the gallery by purchasing artists’ editions or to grandiose notions that you too can collect art (if on a modest scale). No, buying a limited edition print at the Whitechapel is now simply “shopping”. You might as well be in IKEA, albeit a very superior branch. Even the assymetric above-the-eyeline hang is IKEA-esque, though the prices most definitely aren’t.
I wonder what - if anything - the artists make of this, the charitable donation of their work so unabashedly commodified? These prints, interesting though they are, are designed more to be sold than to act as any artistic testament. And yet, in their way, they do exactly that: they’re a little piece of an artist or exhibition, a distillation of their essence, an expensive souvenir. Assuming you’ve even seen the show, of course.
Here in the Whitechapel foyer, grouped together, stripped of their associations, promiscuously forming new ones, they’re in the realm of lovely things, of home decor, of will that go with my flowery curtains or my stripey rug.
But possibly that’s a good a reason as any to buy a piece of art…