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Saturday, 11 May 2013

Online Exhibition Review: 'The Gallery of Lost Art'

 The Gallery of Lost Art is a free online exhibition by Tate where you get to hear about what museums don’t usually like to discuss… That sometimes works disappear. Tate have collaborated with Channel 4, ISO and the Arts and Humanities Research Council for the yearlong  exhibition where you learn about works that you will never get to see.  Launched in July 2012 I hadn’t paid much attention until this week when  I  spent a whole evening insatiably devouring the content. With it's amazing online interactivity, interface and unusual concept no wonder it won the Art prize at the SXSW Interactive Awards in March.

Is this a new way to look at online collections? I think so; the last two years have seen the majority of National Museum invest in a standardised collections management approach to making their objects available  for all to see on the internet. The Gallery of Lost Art has broken down this format to create something instantly refreshing, using archival material to reimagine and bring life back to 'lost' art works makes this virtual gallery space very dynamic.

The Interface lets you learn from documentation laid out on a table.

The website explores the concept of ‘loss’ and famous pieces of art (some owned by Tate) that have disappeared. Organised in categories of attacked, destroyed, discarded, ephemeral, erased, missing, rejected, stolen, transient and unrealised each group is contextualised by  the voice of Jennifer Munday (Head of Collections Research). To explore you are invited to click the contents of a virtual table and immerse yourself in all that is left of the works, fragments of archives, newspaper cuttings and film footage.

As expected the virtual tables present  the high profile stories of thefts  such as Freud's 'Portrait of Francis Bacon' stolen from a Berlin Gallery. And those that simply disappeared like the father of contemporary art Marchel Duchamp's 'Fountain.' that since its famous rejection from the Society of Independent Artists 1917 has been missing.

 But through my exploration  I soon learnt that there are works that artists never wanted to be ‘museumised.’

 Jean Tinguely’s ‘Homage to New York’ described  through fragmented press releases, a short film, photographs and an essay I became immersed in the works story. 'Homage to New York' only lasted half an hour in the sculpture garden of New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1960. The artwork a mass of scraped objects and metal pieces was designed as an ‘auto destructive sculpture’ and thus was mostly destroyed the piece as a whole became ‘lost.’ 
Jean Tinguely’s ‘Homage to New York

The transient category also referred to the work of Anna Gallaccio whose ‘Preserve Beauty’ is currently on display in Tate Britain’s new galleries. Wait, how can a lost piece of art be on display? Well Gallacio's work presents the deterioration of flowers. Originally exhibited in 1991 the work contained 800 flowers initially beautiful as they decayed the art became forever transient and therefore forever ‘lost’

 Anna Gallaccio ‘Preserve Beauty’ 

With new content added every six weeks the online exhibition expands to maintain interest. It's interface, use of documentation and its celebration of long lost art make it a highly addictive website, so I recommend spending a good afternoon sifting through all of the amazing information and pining over what could have been.

Visit the Gallery of Lost Art 24 hours a day @,4 Until 2nd July 2013. 

Follow the exhibition...
 on Twitter: @Gallerylostart

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