A curious thing about Rodin at Turner Contemporary

Rodin at Turner Contemporary

Rodin at Turner Contemporary (Instagram) - Philippa Warr

A return to Kent afforded the opportunity to visit Margate’s Turner Contemporary Gallery. I really enjoyed it but wanted to hare a couple of observations.

The gallery is currently home to the Tate’s version of Rodin’s famous sculpture The Kiss – the nation’s favourite artwork is a 2003 poll is to be believed. The sculpture tells the story of the adulterous lovers Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini.

I didn’t actually know the full story of the pair so I did  a bit of Googling so you don’t have to:

A contemporary of Dante, Francesca da Rimini was betrothed by her father to Paulo’s brother, Giovanni, in order to cement a peace between the two families. Unfortunately Giovanni wasn’t much of a looker so the handsome Paolo acted as a proxy and Francesca married him  without realising the deception. Obvs this wasn’t the most foolproof of plans as the pair then had an affair and Giovanni killed them both.

You can tell from the image above the Turner Contemporary Sunley Gallery is a visually stunning place to exhibit the work but – and this is the thing which struck me as curious – it also implies there is only one ‘correct’ viewpoint because there is only one stunning viewpoint. To me that feels very weird. It’s a three dimensional sculpture and the positioning on the gallery floor means you can walk around the whole thing (i.e. it’s not rammed up against a wall) and yet…

It becomes most obvious when you try to take a photo. Anything other than that main view, straight on with the circular window shape like a halo, looks distinctly secondary. So yes, stunning but also a little odd in the 3D world.

FYI the sculpture’s presence coincides with the current exhibition – Nothing in the World but Youth – now in its final days. It explores how youth experience is reflected in art, culture and the media from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

It’s a bit of a jigsaw show. I wandered from room to room and in each found some interesting or lovely pieces, but the overall feel was much like that or an art fair or the RA’s Summer Exhibition. There was an awful lot of artistic noise to contend with and often you were left wondering where to stand without obscuring someone else’s view.

Rodin’s The Kiss, Turner Contemporary until 2 Sept 2012

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