Last Sunday morning the sun was still shining over London (although it must be noted that this has been a non-summer all round so far) and we headed off to the National Portrait Gallery for Sam Taylor-Wood’s video portrait of David Beckham. This has taken on newish meaning following the defacing of another piece of Beckham art: his portrait at the Royal Academy. The Royal Academy piece now has ‘You loosers (sic)’ scrawled across it in a reference to Beckham’s woman trouble.
Becks is not the idol he was when Sam Taylor-Wood’s portrait was unveiled. Then he was something of a god and this blacked out corner of the National Portrait Gallery became a shrine. But a mediocre performance in Euro 2004, capped off with a missed penalty has transformed him into a national disgrace. Oh well! All of this means the portrait in the Royal Academy (an average advertising style shot) has seen its value sky-rocket thanks to the graffiti, while the angelic Sam Taylor-Wood portrait has lost some magic.
I’m pleased we missed the National Portrait Gallery on Saturday, because going on Sunday meant we had time to catch the BP Portrait Award 2004 (runs to 19 Spetember), which was very good. Although the actual winners made for strange choices: fourth prize went to a very mediocre work and the other winners weren’t that special. Tucked away is some ‘real art’ that looks at people in inventive ways.
From here we went on to 15 Minutes at the Hospital near Covent Garden, which runs to 22 August. This is a sometimes engrossing collection of party photos, with celebrities in them taken over twenty-five years. Pretty high powered celebrities they are too (sometimes) but the photos could be of anybody’s party. That’s not to say they aren’t absorbing. This is the stuff that makes you want to be part of the scene. All these people you kind of know enjoying themselves without you.
A traditional pub lunch (scampi and chips) at the Essex Serpent and that was about it.