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Failing to figure out modern art; SIX in the city.


WHAT is art?

Judging by the suggestions from my "friends" on Facebook (yes, you're never too old to go networking on the web), even some of the brightest minds in the land are a bit confused.

Does it work on an emotional level; a celebration of our passion, our hopes and fears, our humanity? Or is it an intellectual pursuit; subversive, guestioning long-held beliefs? Or is it a load of old junk?

For instance, an old mattress with a broom sticking out of it, a tin bucket, a couple of lightbulbs and a cardboard coffin?

One of my long-held beliefs is that a lot of abstract modern art and figurative sculpture falls into the borderline junk department, a belief system I was happy to confirm on a visit to Tate Liverpool's 20th Century exhibition with three work colleagues.

A few weeks after the event, only a few exhibits could be recalled as memorable.

For me, it was Rodin's Kiss; Picasso's Weeping Woman; Andy Warhol's screen prints of Chairman Mao; and er, an old mattress.

Apparently, it was meant to convey" sex and death". I don't know who "created" it, but I hope they're feeling better now.

With a bit of luck I might have forgotten all about it in 35 years, unlike an exhibition based loosely on sex and death my parents dragged, sorry, took me to in 1972: Tutankhamun atthe British Museum.

What a show that was!

The greatest archaeological find ever, the treasures of the tomb of the Egyptian boy king of 1.333BC, discovered by Howard Carter in 1922 and now shipped over to London 5Oyears later, possibly along with the curse for all who went to see it.

I have vague memories of gueuing for hours, messing about with my brothers, eating an ice cream. But then we were inside, each room more brilliant than the last and filled with all the artefacts King Tut would need on his journey to the underworld.

Miniature gold coffins inscribed with protective spells held the internal organs the god Osiris would need for the reanimation process. And then the sarcophagus - solid gold and encrusted with lapis lazzuli, tourguoise and cornelians and bearing the haunting image of an 18-year-old who ruled one of the world's greatest civilizations.

Now that's a work of art!

More than 1.5m people visited the Tutankhamun treasures over six months, an all-time record and now they're back, at the 02 Arena in London.

Tate Liverpool is also running a high-profile exhibition - the Turner Prize, known for its controversial works.

How many of them will people be gueuing up to see in 3,000 years?

A lot of abstract modern art and figurative sculpture falls into the borderline junk department
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 31, 2007
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