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Art as a Start

It's only wallpaper

Now, I’m more than prepared to accept that it is a personal, solitary eccentricity, but I can’t meander around a gallery without obsessing about the specific wallpaper that each painting originally hung on. I suppose it’s inevitable that a fluff who picks the colours should be so easily distracted by so superficial a detail when faced with the storm und drang of fine art. I’m sure that being the wise and worldly lot you are you’ll be sucking your teeth at this point and sighing. After all, it would be terribly easy to dismiss my peccadillo as a psychological device that protects my fragile flaky sensibilities from engaging with the complexities of the paintings; a rather gorgeously hued smoke screen that serves to distract.

Perhaps. But it’s always worth remembering that today’s attitude to fine art is really rather recent. The hushed reverence we reserve for the artist and his oeuvre would have surprised the cultured elite of pre-impressionist society. And, as sure as eggs is eggs, Hirst, Chapmans and misses Emin and Whiteread and their tribe of turbulent roll-up smoking backing singers would have received short shrift from the patrons of history. And why? Because by the aesthetic standards of the golden days before art went bad you’d never be able to furnish apartments around Brit art. Yes, let’s face it, until art woke up one morning and decided to take itself so terribly seriously, it was first and foremost wallpaper. Expensive hand painted wallpaper for sure, but nevertheless it was conceived to at the very least compliment if not actually match the décor.

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