David Calling

The David Pryce-Jones blog.

A Chilling Art Review


The writings of art and architectural critics, indeed pretty well anyone connected with aesthetics, are almost always such a laboratory of pretence and bogusness that sensible people will never read the stuff. A friend has just given me a master example. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has been trying for some years to abandon any claims to seriousness in order to be politically correct, and it is currently mounting an exhibition about design in the Cold War. The purpose is to show that everything manufactured in the West, no matter how domestic or trivial, was designed to prove the superiority of capitalism to Communism.

And here is how the Times critic (by the way someone hitherto unknown to me) raved about what he saw and heard:

Wisps of spooky music emanate from the back of the room in the kind of pre-Kraftwerk analogue electronica that would accompany sci-fi B movies or TV documentaries in those days to denote the future. It comes from a recreation of the Poème Electronique, a son-et-lumière and architectural “immersive experience” created for the electronic company Philips at the Brussels World Expo in 1958 by Le Corbusier, the Greek architect Iannis Xenakis and the French composer Edgard Varèse, which bombarded  visitors with a visual essay….

Etc etc etc.

Could anything be worse? Well, yes, it could. The Times critic concludes with a reflection on the Cold War. “And who won? Neither side, of course. Both were morally bankrupt. But, by God, we had the prettier table lamps.”  Now there’s real moral bankruptcy for you.


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