Major exhibitions are so heavily marketed to the general public that they are ruined for art lovers. I suppose it's a good day out for some. A day in London, visit a gallery, have lunch, visit the gallery shop, buy fridge magnets, look at some paintings. It's terrible state of affairs and it cheapens the experience of viewing something beautiful.
When I left the National the last time, I vowed never to return, unlesss it was by private invitation when the gallery was closed to the public (fat chance). I found the experience apalling and thought it couldn't any worse. But I was wrong, it is worse!
The Gauguin exhibition at the Tate, which ended this week saw record numbers of visitors. Crowds flocked to the artist's first major British exhibition in 50 years. But large numbers left disappointed and angered by the scrum around every painting. Parents with baby buggies, groups of schoolchildren, art students, middle-aged art lovers and hundreds of day trippers all competed for elbow room. Many of them left the building in a state of what one prominent art critic called "gallery rage".
One report said:
"The crowding in front of the paintings on display was so bad, according to angry art fans and critics, that they have vowed never to go to such a big show again. A fraught debate is now expected in the art world over the need for different forms of crowd control for Britain's major art shows."
Crowd control! Ha ha.