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16 November 2015 @ 08:58 pm
Walking between Oxford Street on Piccadilly on Saturday because I couldn't face the thought of hopping on the tube, I found myself passing a window giving on to a large space with a shark in it. Specifically, a dead shark in a tank. My keen mind swiftly perceived that it was (a) some sort of art exhibition, and (b) despite having no name, opening hours, or general indications of welcome, it was open to the public. I went in. Or rather, I pushed fruitlessly at the door and then the doorman let me in.

It turned out, as a woman hastened over with a leaflet, perhaps in case I was considerably richer than I looked, to be this exhibition: The Big Blue. AKA art influenced by the sea. And it was - OK. There was a Picasso, that I wasn't really fussed about, and a very good Bacon, and a Courbet that was not conducive to the idea of a nice paddle even to one who spent childhood holidays on the Yorkshire coast, but frankly it was all about the shark.

The shark - was a pickled shark. I will admit not to knowing a great deal about contemporary art. I like some, dislike others. It seems to me that shark 1 (The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living) is exciting because of the idea, and I think that it is a good idea. Weird, yes, but interesting. But when what is exciting is the idea, repeating the idea is not exciting. If picked shark 1 is art, pickled shark 2 seems to me essentially an anatomy exhibit. Anatomy exhibits can be interesting; I enjoy spending a rainy lunchtime looking at jars of dead sea creatures in the natural history museum. But they don't really feel like art.

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