Sunday, 22 May 2011

Hepworth Wakefield

The big art news story in the UK this weekend is the opening of yet another monstrous contemporary art gallery: The Hepworth Wakefield in west Yorkshire, named after British sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth who lived in the city until she was 18. Designed by Sir David Chipperfield, it cost £35m and is the biggest art gallery to be built in the UK since the Hayward on London's South Bank in 1968. Locals have described the exterior as a "concrete bunker". The above photo sums it up for me: a well-lit empty space with nothing much worth seeing inside it. The photo below shows some of the Hepworths in the gallery: elegant, feminine, but ultimately nothing more than a collection of barren holes. They are no longer contemporary. They are bygones from the last century's obsession with abstract forms. It was an artistic cul-de-sac. It's time to backtrack and move on.

I'll leave the last word to Will Gompertz, BBC Arts Editor. Click the title link for his two videos on The Hepworth Wakefield. "Some say that modern art galleries have partially taken on the role of churches by providing a place to congregate and contemplate. Maybe they are alike. After all, there are many who think that modern art also requires a leap of faith."


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