Kandinsky. "Improvisation 28"
From September '91-January '92 the Art Gallery of New South Wales
was fortunate enough to host an exhibition called "Masterpieces
From The Guggenheim". It was a rare opportunity for the people
of Sydney to see some of the world's most important pieces of modern
art on loan from The Guggenheim Museum in New York. Works by Picasso,
Mondrian, Pollock, Miro, Kandinsky, Magritte, Leger and so on. It
was a big deal.
I had a call from TV host and absent 'Absent Friend' James Valentine.
He was doing a story on the exhibition for "Good Morning Australia".
He asked me whether I'd like to appear in the segment as an informed
person of the arts. Perhaps give a bit of the history of the profiled
artists and even touch on the influence they've had on the arts
It all happened so fast that I'd agreed to do it before I'd even
had a chance to think about it. I spent the rest of the day and
night regretting my decision whilst boning up on as many interesting
facts and relevant figures as I could lay my hands on. For example,
I'd memorized Picasso's mother's middle name. (Surprisingly, it
to come across as cool, collected and remarkably well informed.
I even was thinking things like, "Who knows, maybe this could
turn into a regular TV spot
maybe that's what I was meant
to be all along
a popular arts television personality".
I'd intended to get to the gallery early to peruse the works at
my leisure, and perhaps slip in to the men's room and floss before
we went to air.
Unfortunately circumstances beyond my control put me at the gallery
just as the cameras were about to roll. Although I was perspiring
profusely and was somewhat breathless from the sprint up Domain
Rd to the gallery, at least I knew I'd done my homework. They
sponged me down and told me to relax. I thought I was relaxed
until they said that, then I didn't feel relaxed anymore.
action! James and I were filmed casually entering the first room.
The cameras were rolling and I could hear James asking me something,
but I didn't know what.
Because I was in shock. Stunned. Agog.
I'd never seen the big Kandinsky's in real life before.
The colours! The Beauty. The Revelation!
The inventing of abstract art!
I had no idea it would be so awesome.
I was literally
dumbstruck speechless. In response to James' questions, all I
could do was shake my head and mouth inanities like, "Wow,
it's just so amaaazing" or "Unbelieeevable." I
kept this up for the duration of the interview, although I do
remember muttering something about Modigliani, marble dust and
absinthe (or was it hashish).
I apologized to James afterwards. He was really good about it
and explained that it was a pre-record and could be (severely)
edited later if need be.
I was in
Adelaide a few days later when it went to air. Mum was watching
the TV and it came on. She called me in and I managed to catch
most of it. It was a very smooth production. James talking to
the remarkably relaxed gallery chief, Edmond Capon, who was giving
a bit of the history of the profiled artists and touching on the
influence they've had on the arts today. He was cool, collected
and remarkably well informed.
Yes a very
slick little presentation indeed
apart from when they cut
briefly to a sweaty and somewhat disheveled punter, self-consciously
groping for meaningful dialogue and eventually and disappointingly
settling on, " Wow, it's just so