After my initial disappointment that the NGV had chosen an artist as blatantly populist as Salvador Dali, I gradually began to feel guilty for being so snobbish, and had even reached the point where I was looking forward to discovering some of Dali's lesser known works. But then I read this quote re an exhibition of Spanish devotional sculpture at Britain's National Gallery..and my reasons for feeling that the NGV needed a serious dose of curatorial bravery became all too clear once again. Of the exhibition, the Gallery's director, Nicholas Penny, says:
"There is an element of risk, but it would be a really terrible thing if people were putting on exhibitions that tried to avoid any sort of risk...You're saying there's no real curiosity in the world – that all people want to see is what they've seen before." (1)
Yes, the National Gallery of Victoria is for all Victorians, not just niche market art nerds like me. But that said, I want my national gallery to take risks, to push boundaries, and to challenge the way people look at art. Will a Salvador Dali retrospective allow any such challenging, or is this sort of curatorship something I can only hope to see if I make the pilgrimage all the way to the National Gallery? I guess I can only wait and see.
NB: for an explanation of the post title, see here.