A user's guide to art-speak
The Simon Lee Gallery in Mayfair is currently showing work by the veteran American artist Sherrie Levine. A dozen small pink skulls in glass cases face the door. A dozen small bronze mirrors, blandly framed but precisely arranged, wink from the walls. In the deep, quiet space of the London gallery, shut away from Mayfair's millionaire traffic jams, all is minimal, tasteful and oddly calming. Until you read the exhibition hand-out. If you've been to see contemporary art in the last three decades, you will probably be familiar with the feelings of bafflement, exhaustion or irritation that such gallery prose provokes. With its pompous paradoxes and its plagues of adverbs, its endless sentences and its strained rebellious poses, much of this promotional writing serves mainly, it seems, as ammunition for those who still insist contemporary art is a fraud. David Levine and Alix Rule do. IAE always uses "more rather than fewer words". The mention of interns is significant.