The recent truce between London’s Tate and National Gallery along with the mounting of the Picasso confronting the Old Masters show has Jonathan Jones thinking about which Contemporary British artists belong in the National Gallery. He can only think of one, well, two:
We’ve seen one true masterpiece come back to light in Britain in the past 12 months. At White Cube gallery last summer the Chapmans displayed their new Hell – their perversely rich tableau of Nazi atrocities, the original version of which was destroyed in the Saatchi warehouse fire. The reborn Hell will hopefully survive for a long time. It is a terrific work of imagination, its plenitude of barbarities truly mind-boggling. Every time you think you’ve got the measure of it you notice a new ludicrous yet fearsome, throwaway yet lovingly rendered detail of life in the abyss. Among the monsters that populate it are hybrid creatures reminiscent of those centaurs. [ . . . ]
It’s good that the National Gallery is reaching out to new audiences by embracing modern art, but it must maintain its authority. This means that only the best should ever be allowed in there – and the best of our age is Hell.
The Chapman Brothers’ Hell Is the Best Art of Our Age (Guardian/Jonathan Jones)