Visiting the Netherlands last week, and passing Wassenaar (near The Hague) we dropped in to see Museum Voorlinden,a new art gallery built by Joop van Caldenborgh, a ‘chemical industry magnate’ who owns an extensive collection of contemporary art. The new building stands next to his English-style (think Lutyens) country house, whose grounds have been planted up by Dutch gardening hero Piet Oudolf.
It’s difficult to convey in a photograph the startling clarity of this space for art. And it’s perhaps also difficult to find art to show in it that rivals the beauty of the building. Tellingly, when I made my usual rounds of the postcard rack in the shop on the way out, it was mostly pictures of the museum itself that I took away with me. But the same shop was doing a roaring trade in yellow tote bags bearing the words of Martin Creed, whose work was having a major showing in Voorlinden: “Art is sh1t. Art galleries are toilets. Curators are toilet attendants. Artists are bullsh1tters."
Very much more loveably, the Museum was showing Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Sigh. This is a room of video projections featuring members of the BBC Concert Orchestra miming (without their instruments) to music by Anne Dudley. The seriousness with which the orchestra took on this unusual assignment is striking, especially to those of us who have met orchestra members en masse. The brass section in particular really go for it, emptying out their invisible valves, picking up their invisible mutes, and so on. This exhibit was very popular, with visitors sitting through the sequence several times, loth to leave the darkened room (as was I).