Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thinking about Brangwyn in Bruges

  On the decline of  the reputation of Frank Brangwyn

After a small Capichino (at a mere cost of 5 Euros0 I was ready for more art. I wanted to find the Groeningemuseum, because it had paintings by the Flemish primitives. But could I find the museum ?Could I fuck -- even with the map I had.

After cursing map makers and geometry I did find a museum that looked to be in sort of the correct place. I didn't see many people going in the door. The museum was called Arentshuis museum.

When I stepped into the ticket counter, the woman who was selling tickets seemed surprised that I was there. I was surprised by her surprise, because the guide book had said that the Groeningemuseum was one of the best in the world. She first tried to sell me a general ticket for all the museums in Bruges, until I managed to get to sell me a ticket for 2 Euros for her museum, but she kept telling me that it was "modern art" in a worried way.
It was becoming clear that this museum didn't contain paintings by Flemish primitives, but I was in polite English mode. It looked as though, she had been wound down by people coming in, mistaking her museum for the more famous one.

So I went upstairs to a completely empty gallery. The air smelled of decay and dust. The light was poor. The work was all by Sir Frank William Brangwyn -- someone I had never heard of. He had been born in Bruges, but he moved to the UK as a child.  I walked around the pictures. The floor was incredibly squeaky, every time I moved the floor  boards groaned. I kept thinking the woman below is listening to me trying to work out if I really wanted to be looking at her pictures. I heard a couple
come in below and try and buy a ticket, but after a while it became clear that they wanted to be in the other more famous museum, so I was left alone in the gloom.

There was a time line on the wall of  Brangwyn's life. It looked very distinguished. He was born in 1867, so I could compare his accomplishments in 1912 with mine in 2012. I wanted to cry bitter tears of failure. The paintings I liked enough, he was a realistic type. I did notice that he travelled to Istanbul and maybe even to Africa, but that didn't radically change his paintings in same way that African art had effected the style of Picasso. That made me sad. From the wikipedia site, it does look as though he was an interesting guy. He wasn't one of those University trained posers, and had even worked with William Morris.

So that is the future. Even if you are successful in life, your legacy could be a dusky and empty
gallery, that at some stage will be closed and his pictures burnt or sold in car boot sales. What is the point of it all?

Anyway my favourite artist is now Brangwyn -- more to be bloody minded than anything else.

I liked the quote below from wikepedia.

  The art writer Marius Gombrich has linked the decline of interest in Brangwyn's works to the decline of the British Empire, pointing out that Brangwyn's bold, vigorous, outward-looking art was suited to the expansive spirit of late-Victorian British society but inconsistent with the inward-looking, less confident, and intellectually effete ethos prevalent in the post World War I period.[14]