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Dredd the Art at the V&A
Victoria & Albert (London)
Member Name: mcrouch
Victoria & Albert (London)
Date: 21/07/01, updated on 22/07/01 (155 review reads)
Advantages: Huge place - lots for everyone, Science Museum and Natural History Museum next door, easy to reach in London
Disadvantages: huge place - you could spend all day and more looking at everything
Commentary on an exhibition of original art at the V&A Museum, Print Gallery level 2, Henry Cole Wing from 31 May - 2 September, 2001.
Regular readers of my ops from the Books and Magazines section of dooyoo will know by now that I do love my comic art. I don’t just mean I like reading comics, I mean I love comic art. There has always been a bit of me that’s been a little dismissive of the general consensus of opinion that says that comics are for kids and comic art isn’t real art. For me comic art contains a language and mechanics not found in any other art form and is considered as juvenile simply because of the general content rather than its function. Unlike conventional art forms, with comics the art is a means to an end (ie; it is telling a story) and not an end in itself. To consider it otherwise is a shortsighted view and one that is being partially corrected by a new exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Art Droids>2000AD is a collection of original artwork from the early days of Britain’s most successful comic, 2000AD. Unfortunately, it seems American and European collectors who take this art more seriously than us Brits have bought up most of the original works and so this collection is as such a small one. It is drawn from the collection of a British comic fan, Rufus Dayglo, a professional animator – kudos to him for allowing fans like me the chance to see original work. The exhibition includes work by long-time comic art stalwarts, Carlos Ezquerra, Mike McMahon, Dave Gibbons, Brendan McCarthy, Brett Ewins, Ron Smith, John Hicklenton and Massimo Bellardinelli.
I won’t go into detail about why I believe comics should be seen as a legitimate art form – you can read some of my past ops for that (hint, hint) but even for visitors who may not be comic fans, there are things to appreciate here. For example, one display case shows the creative impact that 2000AD an
d its writers and artists have had on the American marketplace. Many of the top creators in America now are British, many of them having worked or are working on the American icons like Batman and Superman. This goes back to the eighties when British creators seemed to be flooding the American market and doing everything – for a long time the US didn’t know what had hit them. As such the market has become more irreverent and energetic than ever before. It is hard to imagine the days before 2000AD when the idea of even one British creator working in America would have seemed ludicrous. The impact of the British on international popular art should not be underestimated.
As well as a sketchpad of work by artist Mike McMahon that you can look through (and trust me, art doesn’t get more irreverent than this – it’s like Picasso gone punk), there are about thirty to forty pieces of original art, colour and black and white to pore over. The Total War piece by Dave Gibbons stands as my favourite in the collection – the art is pristine, not a line out of place and packed with detail and things going on. And if you just want to read, well there’s a 16 page (9 prints) Judge Dredd story in painted colour for you running in sequence along the wall. There’s also a very good catalogue you can pick up for nothing – it’s basically four A3 sheets of paper but packed with information, history, sketches and a specially commissioned (for the V&A) b/w print by Mike McMahon that rocks – if you go, don’t forget to pick one up.
For a chance to see original British comic art at its best, you should go and see the Art Droids>2000AD exhibition in the Henry Cole Wing of the V&A (just above the restaurant if you’re hungry). I could go on forever about all the other art collections housed in the V&A but suffice to say there should be something there to cater for most tastes. Admission is £5 fo
r the whole museum and an extra £4 for the Victoriana exhibition that’s currently being held there. And if you are unsure about anything, or just need help finding your way around (it is huge), then ask the staff who are very polite and helpful.
The nearest underground station is South Kensington. The V&A is a very quick walk from there, five minutes at most, on Cromwell Road. Three buses, the C1, 14 and 74 all stop right outside. If you want to make a day of it, then the Science Museum and Natural History Museum (the one with the dinosaurs) are right next door.
And if you are a glutton for gift shops, take lots of money – just don’t expect any comics – an exhibition is one thing but we wouldn’t want to lower the tone of the gift shop, would we?
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