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B A M FORD
: G EOR
The Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London © Tate Photography P H OTO
Rituals of affection Anniversaries – of institutions, artists, artistic movements or indeed magazines – give us the opportunity to celebrate and to re-examine. We celebrate the people we care about on their birthdays; it is not that we do not like them the rest of the year, but rather that sentiment and tradition dictate a ritual in which our affection and esteem are made more obvious.
For museums and magazines, an anniversary can be a good reason to celebrate a specific subject. This year seems to be a particularly busy one. The uk’s Art Fund turns 107, the Serpentine Gallery, London, is 40 and within the pages of this issue we celebrate the 300th anniversary of Meissen porcelain. Meanwhile, Tate Modern is celebrating its first 10 years, and although many found the building difficult to begin with, few could now imagine the riverside skyline without it. Its architects, Herzog & de Meuron, created an iconic space that London would be poorer without, transforming a site of industrial purgatory that had become emblematic of the city’s economic decline. Given that this former disused power station is now an emblem of the uk’s re-invigorated art scene and art market, the nearly £140 million spent on its transformation seems relatively inexpensive today.
Last year’s centenary of Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto saw museums worldwide celebrate an important movement with the urgency, freshness and ambition that its leading exponents had long deserved. The centenary made current something historic, and notwithstanding so many museums’ growing fixation on the ‘now’ we were given half-a-dozen important Futurist exhibitions that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
Apollo was born into an art world where the new sat awkwardly with the timeless and historic cannon of art. Plus ça change, as they say – Apollo’s long tradition of examining the contemporary seems no less apposite in 2010. Moreover, looking back on the magazine’s 85 years of content, it becomes obvious that there can be no ‘final’ word or academic opinion on the work of a great artist. Several articles in this issue make clear the necessity of re-appraisal, and we must treasure the kind of scholarship that is, I think, less prevalent today than it was at Apollo’s inception – in much of what we read, art theory seems to have replaced art history. Magazines that are published monthly and that, like Apollo, are not in the first flush of youth demonstrate a wonderful continuity. The advancements, regressions and changes of the past 85 years may be too multitudinous to catalogue, yet Apollo has witnessed them all. A handful of these are discussed by former editors of Apollo in our anniverary feature (pages 58–62).
Much like our urban landscapes, the cultural scene is dense and overcrowded – there is just too much for us to look at. Fortunately, anniversaries focus our minds at a time when the art world’s attention span has never been shorter. Meissen and Tate Modern, for example, don’t warrant our attention any more than they did last year; but, creatures of habit that we are, it would be a shame to waste this opportunity to take a closer look, once again. Oscar Humphries, Editor
July/august 2010 apollo 15