Glasgow – Saint Phalle at GoMA

We were only in Glasgow for half a day and it wasn’t the best half-day of the trip by any means. It was our last day in Scotland and began with a long drive up the motorway in fairly heavy rain. The rain started clearing as we wandered around the city, but we had to keep an eye on the clock so that we got to the airport with time to drop off the hire car and go through airport check-in. Nevertheless, the city itself seemed pleasant enough – by no means the tough, poverty-stricken, grimy industrial city that it apparently used to be. That said, it’s not all glowing with wealth and enthusiasm. I took the photo below because I liked the tiger but the buildings behind the wall could do with some attention.

tiger graffito on brick wall
Street art beside the river in central Glasgow

The Gallery of Modern Art wouldn’t have been my first choice amongst the city’s galleries and museums (I would have preferred the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, with Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s work in mind) but it was the only one we could get to in the time available – and it rewarded us with a personalised tour of the Niki de Saint Phalle collection, thanks to an enthusiastic member of the curatorial staff we started chatting to in the lift.

GoMA with statue
Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow. The traffic cone is allegedly a semi-permanent irreverent comment on the equestrian statue
dragon-like sculpture
A small monster by Saint Phalle
vase
Cow vase by Saint Phalle
what lies beneath ...
what lies beneath …

We learned that Saint Phalle had great problems overcoming childhood traumas. In spite of her bright palette there is a strong current of  alienation in her work. It is especially apparent in this face when one examines the right side in detail.

Demon and victims
Demon and victims

This very large work dominates the exhibition and apparently represents the artist’s father towering over Niki and her brother.

For more on the artist, see Wikipedia and (focusing on the feminist and psychological aspects) Discipline and Anarchy.

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